Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels met Nov. 17 with Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMH) Board executive director Penny Dehner, who spoke about a planned crisis needs assessment and the board’s recent levy renewal, among other topics.
Also attending the meeting was Adam Dyer, the ADAMH Board’s director of finance. According to the ADAMH website (pvadamh.org), “[The] Paint Valley ADAMH Board was created in 1967 to ensure the availability of community-based alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services. The ADAMH Board does not directly provide services, but contracts with a network of public and private health care agencies to treat persons in need.”
During a presentation to the commission in May, Dehner listed strengthening crisis services as one of the board’s goals for the next three year. She said Wednesday that this is something they had started looking “prior to COVID,” but the pandemic and plans for the levy renewal postponed those plans.
“We had started a while back a crisis needs assessment, and prior to COVID, we had done a crisis summit here locally and were gathering some data,” Dehner said. “Through running the levy, we made the decision to say this is a little too big for us and our nine staff to handle for a five-county assessment on crisis services for both adults and children.”
Dehner told the commission that the ADAMH board has retained TBD Solutions LLC from Michigan to facilitate the crisis needs assessment in their five-county service area (Highland, Fayette, Pickaway, Pike and Ross counties) in the next seven months. Their first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 22, Dehner said.
“They are supposed to complete this needs assessment for us for all five of our counties, adults and kids,” Dehner said. “That will impact the sheriff’s department and corrections. That is to be completed by June 30 of next year.”
The data will determine how they move forward, but Dehner said they have already “been attending many webinars and seminars about how to meet the needs of crisis services.” One option she proposed is a “23-hour stabilization facility” for short-term assistance before referring an individual in crisis elsewhere.
“In 23 hours, the person would leave the facility, either with transportation to a state hospital, or a private psych hospital, or to the jail, or released to a respite center,” Dehner said. “That is a model we’re looking at. I can’t promise anything, because I don’t have the data. That’s what we lacked, and so we hired this company called TBD Solutions to help us gather the data in community stakeholder meetings.”
Prior to that discussion, Dehner thanked the county commissioners and Sheriff Donnie Barrera for their endorsement of the one-mill, 10-year current expenses levy for Paint Valley ADAMH, which passed in all five counties during the Nov. 2 general election.
“That’s amazing,” Dehner said. “We have never won all five of our counties. This is the first time ever. I firmly believe it is because of the endorsement of community leaders and the sheriff.”
On a related topic, Dehner also asked commissioners for information on how planned solar farms in the area for which a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) has been approved will impact the board’s levy collections.
“We’re really working on planning stuff right now,” she said. “Is that going to impact our levy dollars, and how is that going to work?”
Duncan deferred the question to Highland County auditor Bill Fawley, who told Dehner that ADAMH “will actually probably receive more money than what you would from property tax.”
“Property that is in the projects do not pay tax,” Fawley said. “They pay the PILOT. You will get your share of the $7,000 per megawatt.
“That is divided up just like it was property tax, so it’ll be divided up between the schools and the health department and you and the townships. You probably will end up with more money than what the property tax would be.”
“It would be hard to see a scenario where they would end up with less,” Daniels added.
For an update on the $4 million in grant funding used by the board, Dehner said she wanted to recognize Dyer for their “clean audit.”
“Adam has just completed our state audit and had no findings at all,” Dehner said. “I’m so proud of him and the staff that $4 million worth of money, federal money, that they got a clean audit. That was amazing to me.”
On another financial-related topic, Dehner asked that the county include the ADAMH board in any plans related to “drug abuse or mental health,” including using state or federal funding earmarked for those areas.
“We’re not asking for money,” she said. “Any time we can be a part of the planning for services, we want to be. If you get a pot of money that may be, might be, on the peripheral of drug abuse or mental health, please let us know, and we’d be more than happy to tell you what we’ve got going.
“I don’t want to duplicate services, or you’re putting money for this and we are too. I want to make our money, our tax dollars, go as far as we can. As those monies come in, give me a call.”
After her presentation, all three commissioners thanked Dehner for her efforts and congratulated her on the levy renewal’s passage.
• • •
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a recording system purchase through Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. after hearing from Scott Miller of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, who serves as the county’s 911 coordinator.
According to Britton, the cost of the system is $26,720.84, which was a “discount of $16,052.16” from the company.
Miller said “the state has sent out a third round to the state 911 federal grant money,” for which he has applied. If granted, it would be a 60-40 reimbursement, according to Miller.
“We’re probably on the verge of not getting it because of the timeline, but I told them that we would meet today, and if it was approved I could get the [purchase order],” Miller added.
As previously reported, Highland County’s committee to review COVID-19 relief funding requests granted an over $400,000 proposal from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to upgrade their software system during the Sept. 16, 2020 county commission meeting. The sheriff’s request, which totaled $411,920.15, was to upgrade software at the sheriff’s office for the first time in nearly 25 years, using coronavirus relief funds. That request encompassed computer-aided dispatch, mobile, records management and jail management.
In October 2020, commissioners also approved a $28,385 quote from Advanced Radio Technology for an additional 911 dispatch console.
Miller told commissioners that their 911 upgrades are “complete,” and the new recording system requested Wednesday is necessary for the “next phase” of the upgrades to fully implement the text-to-911 system.
“A lot of the counties in the state of Ohio are going to the text-to-911, and we’re ready to look into getting that done,” he said. “Our current recorder system dates back to 2015. It is not capable of recording text data, which we would need to keep and retain, per our mandates with the state 911 office.”
Miller said that he spoke to various companies and received feedback from other law enforcement agencies across the state before settling on Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) and the NICE system they offer.
“It will be able to record and keep all the text messages we receive,” Miller said. “We also would eventually be receiving video — like from a crash scene, someone could send us a video from the crash — and we would need to be able to retain those files as well.”
Miller added that text-to-911 is offered as an option for “those who can’t” call 911 and is not meant “to replace calling 911.”
At a previous commission meeting, Miller discussed the new capability for dispatchers to “send a text message to an abandoned call,” which he said will “allow their phone to send GPS to us via text message.”
“Until I can record that, I don’t want to be able to do that, just to keep the integrity of the text message for our office,” he told commissioners Wednesday.
Miller said the new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system is expected to “go live just after the first of the year,” and ADS is able to “tie all the recordings of certain calls” to that system “in one file.”
“All the dispatchers will have access to this recorder in some shape or form,” Miller said. “Now they’ll have a second way to get in and replay a call if they need to confirm an address.
“It’s going to record all the radio traffic and all the other phone lines that come into the office as well, and it will be set up for voice over internet for future possible changes.”
Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the purchase, and Duncan thanked Miller for “the explanation” of the upgrades.
• • •
In other discussion:
• Duncan announced that the county has received the permissive sales tax receipts for November 2021, which officially show the county has surpassed the record-high 12-month totals for 2020.
The total for the first 11 months of 2021 is $8,156,560.47, which is $655,684.13 above the entire year of 2020 and $1,344,080.98 above the January-November 2020 total.
Receipts for November 2020 were $736,600.48, compared to $652,340.35 in November 2020.
Since July 2020, the monthly receipts total has not dropped below $600,000, and in that 17-month span, there have now been 10 months above $700,000.
“The sales tax numbers continue to surprise us — a pleasant surprise,” Duncan said. “They’re hanging in there, so that’s good news for the county.”
• Britton said the county is working with Fawley to make preparations for the 2022 general fund budget.
“We’re working with the auditor’s office to see what kind of funds we’re going to have,” he said. “Hopefully we can get that number announced here within the next week.”
• The commission will be meeting Tuesday, Nov. 23 next week instead of their usual Nov. 24 meeting “due to a staffing issue,” according to Duncan.
• The recently approved leaf guard protection for gutters at the Hi-TEC building have been installed, according to Duncan.
Commissioners also approved the following resolutions, each by a 3-0 vote:
• A budget modification within the Board of Elections budget in the amount of $200.
• A budget modification within the Certificate of Title budget in the amount of $2,500.
• An additional appropriation from unappropriated funds within the Hotel Lodging Tax budget in the amount of $11,788.07.
• An additional appropriation from unappropriated funds within S-24, Family and Children First in the amount of $3,000.
In addition to the recording system purchase approval, commissioners also authorized the following, also by 3-0 votes:
• A professional maintenance program contract with Commercial Parts & Service, Inc. for the Highland County Justice Center.
• A contract with Frost, Brown & Todd, a legal firm representing the county in solar development issues.
• An extension of already approved work by the Sidwell Company for the Highland County Map Office for professional GIS services for card scanning.
“The estimate on the scanning was like 40,000 cards, and they had to make some changes on that,” Britton said. “If it was anything over that, it would be an increase in cost of 45 cents per card.”
• A change order for the Highland County Engineer’s Office and Miller-Mason Paving Company for a road resurfacing project.
• • •
Not discussed during the meeting, but included on the agenda, were three items of correspondence.
• Solar development manager Cody Hoffman notified commissioners that Willowbrook Solar I LLC has “filed a construction notice with the Ohio Power Siting Board … for a short transmission line to interconnect the Willowbrook Solar Project into the adjacent Wildcat Substation, owned by AEP.”
Dylan Borchers of Bricker & Eckler sent a similar notification in October to commissioners regarding the proposal in Concord Township. The construction notice application has been filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board and is eligible for “an accelerated review,” Borchers said last month.
According to Hoffman, this “generation-tie line (gen-tie) is integral to the project and was included in the solar project’s overall OPSB application and certification,” but this application is “a separate administrative requirement.”
• Commissioners received copies of two emails from Clinton County/Highland County Citizens Concerned About Solar Farms. One email was a request for Dodson Creek LLC to provide a “list of solar panels, inverters and batteries,” “material data sheets,” and “projected rates of panel, inverter and battery damage while installation occurs.” They requested a meeting to discuss those and other concerns.
The group also sent an email regarding chemicals used in solar panel production.
• • •
On Thursday morning, commissioners held a one-minute meeting to approve a grant agreement contract.
According to Duncan, the contract came to their office “too late” for Wednesday’s meeting, but they were facing a deadline of Friday, Nov. 19 to finalize the contract.
Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the Early Invention American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant agreement for Family and Children First Administrative Agency and the Ohio Department of Development Disabilities for July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023.