The long-discussed phase one environmental studies at the Leesburg and Greenfield industrial parks have been completed, Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The completion of the studies means that both parks have met a major requirement toward becoming certified with the state. Being certified by the state will allow each industrial park more visibility to businesses seeking such a site.
On Wednesday, Wilkin said that “for the program they are in,” each park is rated in the top 20 industrial parks in the state.
Commission Deputy Clerk Nicole Oberrecht said previously that there are three categories of industrial parks: fully ready; pipeline parks, which have some work complete, but lack necessary assessments; and fatally flawed parks. She said the Greenfield and Leesburg parks fall into the second category, but with the environmental studies could be boosted to the first category.
The county, to which the Leesburg park belongs, and the village of Greenfield, which owns its industrial park, each previously awarded the assessment projects to CTL Engineering.
As Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey reported in February, the Greenfield Industrial Park is also a part of the 2016 APEG Featured Facilities Sites Initiative, which allows the industrial park to be further showcased.
Wilkin said that he and Oberrecht were scheduled to meet with Greenfield officials later on Wednesday to review the findings from the Greenfield park’s study.
On another matter, Wilkin reported that he spoke with Job and Family Services (JFS) Acting Director Katie Adams, who reported that the number of children in foster care within the last several months reached a high of about 158, but is now down to 106, and that is with the recent addition of a sibling group consisting of seven children.
Wilkin said the agency has been focusing on getting more children that are removed from their homes placed in kinship care versus foster care. A kinship provider is a person that already has a relationship with the child, such as a relative or a close family friend.
Ronda McAdams with Highland County Children Services, an agency within JFS, told Greenfield Rotarians last week that there are only about 15 licensed foster homes in Highland County, which means that children in foster care often must be placed outside the county in network foster homes and in residential facilities, the latter of which can cost the county up to nearly $400 per day, depending on the needs of the child.
Last year, the numbers of children in foster care and having to be placed outside the county contributed to costing the county an additional $1 million. Wilkin said the county’s levy in place to support foster care expenses is “designed” to care for about 60 kids, rather than the easily doubled numbers of the last couple years.
When crafting this year’s budget, commissioners in December approved a special line item, called Child Emergency, into the county’s budget as a way to offset the increased costs so that money could be transferred to it as needed.
For months, JFS has been working to reduce costs at the agency and to get more children placed with kinship providers.
For information about how to help, or about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, call Highland County Children Services at 937-393-3111.
In other business, commissioner Jeff Duncan reported that two bids have been received for flooring for the meeting room at the Hi-Tech Center in Hillsboro.
Currently the flooring is stained, years-old carpet, and commissioners are looking for a more “durable” option, he said. The two bids received are for “an epoxy-type covering.” However, he said he is meeting with a local business later on Wednesday to get pricing on carpet for the meeting room to compare to the other flooring type pricing.
The Highland County Board of Commissioners meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 119 Gov. Foraker Pl., Hillsboro. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.