Commissioners want more department head participation

A new president of commission was named and the year’s initiatives were determined Thursday at the weekly meeting of the Washington County Commissioners.

In a unanimous vote, the commissioners elected David White as their new president and Ron Feathers as their vice president. White replaced Rick Walters, now retired, as president.

The commissioners also decided to keep their weekly meeting at 9 a.m. every Thursday and retain the same business hours of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A new initiative was proposed by Feathers in which the departments that are under the direct control of the commissioners should have representatives at the weekly meeting. Feathers said each department should have their director attend the meetings, but at least have a representative there when the department head isn’t available.

“It would entice more citizens to attend the meetings,” Feathers said. “It’s a model done successfully in other counties in the state.”

Feathers said it would enable representatives from each department will to respond to citizen’s concerns with more detail and accuracy than the commissioners could. White and commissioner Kevin Ritter decided the proposal was sound and agreed to implementing it. A date when those representatives will begin attending the weekly commission meeting hasn’t been determined yet.

The departments that will be required to send representatives to the weekly meeting are Washington County’s Human Resources, Building and Grounds, IT, Wastewater, Building Permits, Child Support Enforcement, Job and Family Services and the Emergency Management Agency.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

•Flite Freimann, director of Washington County Job and Family Services, discussed how the paying of bills will be accomplished after the restructuring of Children Services with JFS. Freimann said control of the Children Services budget has always been under the direction of their board. But since the board was disbanded after the restructuring, a new method of paying the department’s bills had to be determined.

Freimann said former director of Children Services, Jamie Vuksic, now administrator of Children Services under JFS, now gives his bills to Freimann instead of the board in order to have them be processed. Freimann said the plan was discussed with incoming Washington County Auditor Matthew Livengood and met with his approval.

“An improvement to the process is that there will be weekly instead of monthly bill paying,” Freimann said.

Freimann said this will prevent an overabundance of billing for the auditor at the end of every month. The only payment that will be left on a monthly schedule will be the paying of foster parents, he said.

Friemann also requested a $1,000 appropriation for the support of an upcoming employment event. Freimann said Marietta College, Washington State Community College and the Washington County Career Center have agreed to combine all of their individual job fairs into a single career fair to be held at the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center on April 4.

Freimann said he discussed the project with representatives from the three learning institutions who took the idea back to their boards which gave approval for the consolidation. According to Freimann , the $1,000 will go to complete funding of the $3,600 needed for the purchase of sundry items for the event.

The commissioners agreed to the funding, saying they will appropriate it from the general fund.

“Considering all the leg work you’ve done to make this happen, you have my support,” Ritter told Freimann.

•The commissioners agreed to a contract worth $36,372 with Bob Lane’s Welding for emergency land slip repairs on County Road 10. According to Feathers, the large amount of traffic on the road and the severity of the slip requires immediate action.

“It’s down to half a lane,” Feathers said. “If we wait any longer the road will be closed.”