Post-meeting release 10/23

Commissioners approve several requests for justice center upgrades
Potential date, time and location set for wind meeting about intervention

[Tiffin, OH Oct. 23, 2018] – Seneca County commissioners approved several project requests for improvements at the Seneca County Justice Center Tuesday morning.
Each of the judges in the building had requested space for evidence storage in the former space of the title office. This area also contains a new server room and an area where county clerk of courts records are stored. The judges were granted the additional area for evidence storage. The walls that need to be constructed are to cost about $1,900.
The board also approved a request to add lighting to hearing rooms on the third and fourth floors and to improve soundproofing in the fourth-floor courtroom. The lighting is to cost about $4,106 and the soundproofing is to cost about $4,344.
A $2,800 sidewalk project also was approved for around the justice center. Funding was already budgeted, so now additional appropriation was made.
In other action, the board moved to invite the Venice, Eden, Reed, Bloom and Scipio township trustees to a special meeting to discuss possible intervention in sPower’s Seneca Wind Project. The meeting would be preceded by a one-hour town hall that would allow county residents to have their opinions heard on the intervention process.
Formally intervening in the Ohio Power Siting Board process would allow the county and the townships to be involved in the adjudicatory hearing about the project held in Columbus.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. November 7. The current venue is expected to be the Republic Town Hall, but it may need to be relocated to a larger space. More information is expected later this week on the location of the event.
Commissioner Shayne Thomas pitched the meeting as a chance to try and find a compromise on a contentious issue.
He said he sees three potential paths forward. The first path is for both the townships and the county to choose not to intervene. In this case, there would be no legal fees or costs. The entities still could participate in the public hearing process, but would not be able to participate in the adjudicatory hearing in Columbus.
The second path would be to find common ground and to use the prosecutor to represent the county and the township’s joint position on the issue at the adjudicatory hearing. This position could highlight the common ground between the entities. Examples could include protecting roads, groundwater, wildlife and revenue. The entities would not be able to participate in the local public hearing in this scenario.
The final path, which Thomas said would be the worst-case scenario, would see each entity intervening individually and footing the bill for attorney fees for the adjudicatory hearing in Columbus. Lengthy legal
hearings are possible, which could lead to high attorney fees for each governmental body.
If the meeting is successful, Thomas said intervention status on the APEX Republic Wind Project could be revisited by the county and by the townships involved. The county already has become an intervener in the process for APEX’s Republic Wind Project. The county did not intervene for or against the APEX project but decided to intervene as an interested party. The intervention motion could be withdrawn.
Also during the meeting, Commissioner Holly Stacy denounced a mail campaign attacking Commissioner Kerschner.
“I don’t believe at all that Mike is against schools, wants higher taxes or whatever else it says,” she said.
Stacy said she does not believe the campaign is being funded locally.
In other business, Seneca Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Charlene Watkins said no quotes had been received for a restroom upgrade at the County Services Building. The Community Development Block Grant project would make the first-floor restrooms in the building Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
The project was bid out but did not receive any offers. The state has now allowed the county to ask for quotes on the project.
Watkins said Tuesday that the project must be completed by August to receive the CDBG funds. She said she plans to ask more contractors for quotes. The estimate for the project is about $17,900.

During appropriations, the board approved:
* A $5,000 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund to pay for the services of the county’s Ohio State University extension agricultural agent for the rest of 2018.
* A $36,000 fund advance from the General Fund to The Wolf Creek Petition Ditch Fund.
* The disposal of a 2000 GMC van on behalf of CROSSWAEH. The van was sold for $200.

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