County may consolidate EMA, 911 offices

By Sam Shawver

Special to the Times

The appointment of a new director for the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, expected to be confirmed within the next week, could result in the consolidation of the county EMA and 911 offices.

“The director post is not yet filled as we have to put together a package for the position,” Washington County Commission President Ron Feathers said during Thursday’s regular commission meeting.

That package will establish a final salary and a possible modification of the job description as the proposed EMA director would also oversee the county 911 service.

Current 911 director, Lt. Rich Hays with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, has been offered the post, but he has not officially accepted the appointment until the contract package details are ironed out.

“He has shown interest and his goals for the position seem to match with ours,” Feathers said, adding that the commissioners hoped to have the package details

completed today.

Commissioner Rick Walters said Hays was selected out of three candidates who were interviewed for the EMA position.

“It was hard to find someone qualified at the salary level we could offer,” Walters said.

Former EMA director Glen Kelly was paid an annual salary of $36,000, but did not require medical benefits as he had other outside health coverage.

Kelly served five months as EMA director and recently accepted a position as manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

Feathers said Tuesday that Hays’ current salary is around $47,000 and anticipated that amount would increase slightly if he takes on the additional EMA duties.

“He would report to the sheriff’s office regarding 911 and to the commissioners regarding EMA issues,” he said, noting Hays has discussed the move with Sheriff Larry Mincks, who supported the idea.

“Rich has worked with all the fire departments, so it just makes sense to bring the 911 dispatch and EMA together,” he said.

Feathers said consolidating the two entities would also save money that the county could use to hire an assistant in the EMA office. Former assistant Lori Price left that position this summer.

In other business Thursday, the commissioners approved a request from Washington County Children Services to float a tax levy of 0.53 mills on the May 8, 2018 primary ballot to help the agency cover costs for placing children in foster care. The levy would raise an estimated $750,000 annually for placement costs.

Commission clerk Rick Peoples said the approved request would go to the county prosecutor’s office where the final ballot language would be developed.

Also on Thursday, a $41,000 change order was approved for the county’s joint road base stabilization project completed this month.

County engineer Roger Wright said the change order was required to cover additional materials the contractor, Tri-Mor Construction, needed in finishing the work. But he noted the project still came in under the original engineer’s estimate.

“Our original estimate was $700,000, but the bid came in at $496,000,” Wright said, adding that the change order would bring the total cost to more than $530,000.

The project was a first-time partnership between the county and three townships, Dunham, Barlow and Watertown, that resulted in road stabilization and drainage improvements to a total six miles of roadways.

Funding was obtained through a $400,000 Ohio Public Works Grant and a 10-year zero interest OPWC loan to help cover the $150,000 matching funds needed for the grant award.

Wright said the partnership allowed the townships to save some money that could be used for other road improvements in those areas.

He said the partnership worked out well, and he would like to do similar projects with participation from more townships in the future.

Finally on Thursday, Dawn Rauch with Washington-Morgan Community Action conducted a public hearing on the 2018 transit program application to fund the Community Action Bus Lines.

She said the total budget for the 2018 program is $394,220, which includes a reduction of $20,000 to $30,000 in the annual federal allocation for operations and maintenance of the bus lines.

The federal allocation for operation is $156,000, and the allocation for capital maintenance is $65,000.

Rauch said the 2018 budget reduction may require some changes in the CABL operations and Community Action will be studying how the bus line is being used to help determine what route modifications are needed.

“Once any route changes are determined we’ll hold public hearings on those changes toward the end of this year,” she said, adding that any comments from the public regarding the 2018 public transit program can be submitted to the Washington-Morgan Community Action Office on Putnam Street.

Community Action also needs $6,000 to cover a shortfall in matching funds required to obtain the full federal allocation for 2018.

“We’re looking at the possibility of putting advertising on our buses as a way to obtain those matching funds,” Rauch said, noting the county could contract with a local agency to have ads placed on CABL buses.

What’s ahead

¯ The next regular meeting of the Washington County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in the commission meeting room at the Washington County Courthouse Annex on Putnam Street in Marietta.

¯ All commission meetings, except executive sessions, are open to the public.