SIDNEY — 2019 was a year of celebration for Shelby County starting April 1 with the kick-off for the County’s Bicentennial events.
“Gov. Mike DeWine was the featured speaker at the kick-off and his enthusiasm has continued with the many events that followed, which included each of the villages,” said Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann. “A few of the events included a successful Guinness world-record event opening pop-tab cans, a sky-diver, a concert featuring the Wright Patterson Air Force Rock Band, special exhibits for antique quilts and native American artifacts, speaker presentations on local history, fireworks, and raffles. The year was commemorated with a specially brewed beer, and commemorative coins, postcards, and rifles. The final event which will finish the County Bicentennial and begin the City of Sidney’s Bicentennial is the Bicentennial Ball to be held in the County Courthouse in February.”
Her report continus:
In August, a ribbon cutting was held at the county nursing home, Fairhaven, with a new wing opening. This contemporary addition has a modern farmhouse motif with 74 beds (66 of which are private rooms), bariatric accommodations, and private bathrooms. A courtyard in the center allows some rooms to have private patios. The overall addition is 67,424 square feet and cost approximately $13 million. This addition improves our ability to provide short-term rehabilitation and also enables us to provide improved amenities to our long-term residents.
In May, the first persons were moved into the new STAR (Sheriff’s Treatment and Recovery House). The facility was created to transition between incarceration and complete independence for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. While living in the STAR house, men will participate in counseling, be enrolled in Medication Assisted Treatment which curbs drug cravings, work to have full-time employment, and learn life skills such as cooking and budgeting. The 4269 square feet facility can house 20 male residents and is being operated cooperatively by The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Tri County Board of Mental Health and The Shelby County Commissioners with additional funds from community partners including Shelby County United Way.
The new Bob Sargeant and Family Animal Shelter and Adoption Center opened in November. With SCARF (Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation) raising over $2.4 million in local contributions, the County is now fortunate to be able to house up to 60 adoptable dogs and cats in a state of the art facility. At 8,700 square feet, the facility also has space for vet care, a bathing area, and a community outreach center. Careful attention was paid to details throughout allowing for thoughtful adoptions and volunteer engagement.
Shelby County continues its progress with other projects in process. A new jail prisoner intake area is under construction with Brumbaugh Construction working with designers K2M. Attached to the sally port of the current structure, this area will provide an isolated ventilation system to prevent contamination to the rest of the facility in the event there is an exposure to drugs. The current intake area will be used to accommodate other needs.
The commissioners have retained Jones and Henry to assist with preliminary design for upgrading the Lake Loramie Wastewater Treatment Plant. Built in 1987, much of the facility is outdated and past its life expectancy. The plant currently treats waste from Fort Loramie Lake residents, the Villages of Fort Loramie and Kettlersville, and areas of Newport and McCartyville. As the EPA enacts stricter guidelines, enhancements are necessary to improve phosphorus removal and eliminate bypasses. We hope to have planning and funding in place to allow for construction to begin in the summer of 2021.
The Shelby County Commissioners have recognized the need for a radio communications infrastructure improvement/replacement project. The consulting firm of MCM is working with a selected work-group comprised of the commissioners and representatives of Shelby County fire service, EMS, county law enforcement, and village police and government officials to explore options to best address the needs of our emergency personnel. It is hoped a report will be ready this summer to guide decisions for future upgrades.
As Shelby County works to ensure our fairgrounds remains active throughout the year, the Fair Board has created a long-range plan to update many of the facilities. In a first step, the commissioners were able to purchase an adjoining property which will help alleviate the current crowding of our fair participants.
At the state level, your commissioners were engaged in forging partnerships with the new administration. This has created a growing recognition by the state that counties need additional resources. The state budget bill included significant investments and improvements in indigent defense reimbursement, children services funding for foster parent support and kinship care, collection of sales tax from out of state vendors, and investments in water quality. One portion of the state budget bill included $50,000 for each county to upgrade internet security at the Board of Elections to protect the security and integrity of Ohio’s elections. These funds have enabled the county to install necessary hardware and software for these functions, but will leave the county responsible for the ongoing costs.
Shelby County had elected officials present during negotiations between the state, municipalities, and counties as mass settlements are considered between these entities and manufacturers and distributors of opioids. We will continue to advocate for dollars to address the ongoing effects of the addiction crisis.
For 2020, the commissioners are working to ensure Shelby County gets an accurate count of its residents in the 2020 Census. We have set up a Complete Count Committee and have hired an intern to assist with our outreach. The importance of getting a complete count cannot be understated as it will affect future funding and grant dollars that come back to Shelby County.
In setting the 2020 budget the commissioners were challenged with the loss of some funding sources and rising expenses in certain departments leaving the budget overall 8.8 percent higher than 2019. We remain dedicated to serving the needs of our Shelby County residents. We welcome visitors to our sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and remain available by appointment as well.