NEW LEXINGTON – The Board of Perry County Commissioners had a busy morning on a wide variety of issues at their Wednesday, March 24 weekly meeting. A meet and greet session led off the morning at 9:30 with the new dean at Ohio University Lancaster (OUL).

Jarrod Tudor graduated from law school and immediately began a career at regional colleges. Now the dean at OUL, Tudor told the commissioners that the key issue for him in his new role is workforce development.

“We need to create pathways to employment for today’s students,” Tudor told the commissioners. He also believes enrollment will rise at OUL this fall with the college looking more like 2019 than 2020. Tudor also informed the commissioners that OUL will have a nursing program in two years.

Next on the agenda were Randy Ayers and Chuck Booher presenting the monthly insurance report to the commissioners. Making his report via phone, Booher went through the financials concerning insurance claims for February. He reported the county is in excellent shape financially.

Ayers followed with a description of an option now available to county employees called the Smart Shopper Program. This program provides incentives for employees to shop for the best price on several medical procedures such as an MRI or colonoscopy. While it is not mandatory for county employees to go with the best price, doing so will earn them a bonus through the Smart Shopper Program.

Ayers discussed the County Employee Consortium by CEBCO Insurance. He presented a choice to the commissioners as to whether one of them applies to attend the consortium or lets Booher remain as the delegate for this group. Booher would have the right to vote as proxy for the commissioners in this position. The commissioners made a motion for Booher to take this role and made Ayers his alternate. The vote to pass the resolution was unanimous.

The final business Ayers brought to the commissioners was to announce that the well-being screening event for employees on the county health plan would be held April 23 and 24.

Mitch Altier appeared before the commissioners next. He announced the phase 4 water line was close to opening bids. He told commissioners he needed their authority for the waterline to cross state, county, and township roads where necessary.

Altier brought a unique situation for the commissioners to consider. Two potential customers for a new county water line who had made the $500 deposit to gain access to the water had changed their minds. Having done so, they wanted their $500 deposits returned.

One customer would have been the last recipient on the water line so that did involve any difficulty construction-wise. However, the other customer’s residence is located near the middle of the new line. The commissioners did not make a decision on the matter of the second Perry County resident asking for a refund.

Water lines continued as the topic with the next presenter being Kevin Eby from the Tri-County Sewer District in Licking County. Years ago, Tri-County Sewer ran a sewer line into a northern corner of Perry County. The timeline for this event is the mid-1980’s. No resolution could be located during the meeting that showed where the Perry County Commissioners at the time allowed Tri-County Sewer to have access to customers in Perry County. With the potential of a major development project in the Thornville area, who delivers water and sewer services stands to gain considerable revenue.

The commissioners informed Eby that they would research past files to determine the timeframe and what details were involved when the decision to allow Tri-County to provide services for Perry County residents.

The last topic on the agenda also brought the most people to meet with commissioners. Led by Judge Luann Cooperrider, five individuals representing the Perry Housing Coalition spoke to commissioners about the dire need for temporary housing for homeless people.

Judge Cooperrider recalled seeing a foster child who had aged out of the foster program “come out from under a bridge on State Street carrying all his possessions in a plastic bag.” That incident sparked her concern for homeless individuals in the county. Also attending the meeting on behalf of the Coalition were John Ulmer, David Snyder, Clarissa Reynolds, Dave Neal, and Amber Nesselrotte.

The coalition asked the commissioners to consider using some of the funding designated for counties and small communities through the American Rescue Plan. The commissioners told the coalition representatives that neither the amount nor parameters for its use have been established, although preliminary reports say that $7.2 million dollars could be on its way to Perry County.

David Snyder told commissioners that while the need for providing temporary shelter for homeless individuals and families is critical, but he asked them to consider what the long term needs and expenses could be.

He related finding a family of four senior citizens camped at the Perry County Gun Club illegally because they were temporarily homeless. Other members from the group related similar stories of people living in cars, in the woods near Junction City, and in the Perry County Fairgrounds area.

Judge Cooperrider told commissioners that grant money is available for providing temporary housing, but only when an organization already has a facility in place.

Following the presentation from the Perry Housing Coalition, the meeting was adjourned.

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