Seneca County Sheriff Frederick Stevens gives Virtual Attorney Visitation project update
By Sheri Trusty
Tiffin — Seneca County Sheriff Fredrick Stevens provided an update of the Virtual Attorney Visitation (VAV) addition proposed for the Seneca County Jail. The space would be utilized for Federal ICE detainees and their representation for private virtual meetings. The Seneca County Jail has served as an ICE Contract Detention Facility for about 25 years.
In October, 2022, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contacted Stevens to request that space be provided for VAV in the county jail. Because many ICE detainees utilize attorneys from out of town, VAV provides space and equipment for virtual meetings.
“We’re trying to facilitate and improve detainees access to representation,” Stevens said. “With VAV, the detainees don’t have to leave the facility.”
The space would not only provide expedient private meeting space, but it would also save the county staffing and transportation costs by eliminating the need to transport detainees to offsite meeting places.
Stevens submitted to Immigration and Customs staff a plan to remodel outdoor u-shaped space at the jail into VAV space.
The federal government approved $425,000 in reimbursable funds for the VAV project. Seneca County Commissioners agreed to move forward with the project. The first step is to contract an architect to create renderings of the space before the project is open for bids.
“This is important for privacy issues,” Stevens said. “I’m for it. In the long run, this is additional usable space at the jail that is funded by the federal government.”
After Stevens’ presentation, the commissioners provided updates on their activities during the past week. Among the meetings, award dinners and ribbon cuttings that the commissioners attended, Commissioner Bill Frankart took part in a planning meeting for the Solar Eclipse of the Heart event on April 5-8. Frankart said Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bryce Riggs and Marketing Manager Marisa Stephens have already planned a variety of events and are collecting a list of camping resources throughout the county. More information can be found at www.senecaregionalchamber.com.
Commissioner Tyler Shuff had a busy week which included ribbon cuttings at Good Shepherd Kennels and Tiffin Paper Company. Shuff also attended the tenth anniversary of the Fostoria Iron Triangle Rail Park.
“The park has a strong group of board members that are getting a lot done,” Shuff said.
Commissioner Tony Paradiso was interviewed by Mike Roca at WTTF on Thursday morning. Paradiso gave updates on the county budget, capital projects, cybersecurity and county EMS service. During the interview, Roca asked Paradiso about his vision for the future of EMS in Seneca County.
“That has never changed,” Paradiso said. “No matter where you’re at…we want to provide state-of-the-art EMS service in ten minutes or less.”
In other business, the commissioners approved two supplemental appropriations. The first authorized the payment of $10,815 from the County Capital Projects Fund for tiling and backfilling of a ditch at the Southeast EMS station. The second appropriation authorized $15,000 in contract services from the ARPA fund for Seneca County Board of Health moving expenses.
During Public Comment, Ben Nutter of WIN Waste Innovations provided an update on Sunny Farms Landfill.
The next scheduled Seneca County Commissioners meeting is Nov. 30.