(Posted Oct. 30, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Come next summer, Madison County’s Family and Children First Council will no longer provide early intervention services to Union County.
For the past couple of years, Union County has contracted with Madison County for help in providing services to families with children ages birth to 3 years old who have disabilities. The services have included needs assessments, referrals, care plans, and in-home parent coaching.
Madison County is terminating the agreement for funding reasons, said Jenn Coleman, Madison County’s Family and Children First Council coordinator. Funding from the state for early intervention programs has remained flat for the last several years while the number of children being served, both in Madison County and Union County, has gone up, she said.
When the contract between the two counties started, Union County was serving 15 children; the program now serves 100 children. While the increase hasn’t been as dramatic in Madison County, numbers are up.
Madison County’s Family Council has secured additional local funding to help make up for the lack of additional funding from the state. Union County has not.
“We looked at projections going into 2020, and at the current rate of growth, we couldn’t sustain services to Union County” without more funding, Coleman said.
On Oct. 23, the Madison County commissioners signed off on the decision to terminate the agreement. Madison County will continue to provide services to Union County through the end of the current contract, which runs through June 30, 2019.
Inmates with Mental Illness
Also on Oct. 23, the commissioners heard from Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties. She talked about Stepping Up, a nationwide initiative to help people with mental illness stay out of jail and on a path to recovery.
She said 30 percent of Ohio’s inmates have mental illnesses and of those, most also have substance abuse disorders. These inmates often stay in jail longer and are likely to return to jail, she said. Jails have limited ability to help such inmates.
Mayer asked the commissioners to sign up for Ohio Stepping Up and pass a resolution that includes a commitment to a six-step planning process. No funds are required to join the initiative. Mayer noted that Union County is among the nearby counties that have signed up.
Commissioner David Dhume said he wants input from local court officials before the commission decides whether to pass a resolution.
Tile Mill Drainage Project
The county engineer’s office has worked out a plan to address drainage issues at the site of a former tile mill in London.
The property belongs to the city of London and is located northwest of the intersection of State Route 665 and Payne Thompson Road, between the bike path to the south and railroad tracks to the north.
In 2015, a nearby property owner filed a ditch petition, stating drainage issues at the old tile mill were impacting her property. The engineer’s office held a first hearing on the petition in 2016, then put the process on hold because the water was too high at the tile mill property to determine a solution.
Old drainage tile serving the area had become non-functional, causing high water. The high water attracted beavers which built dams, making the problem worse. Once the beavers were trapped and removed, the engineer’s office removed some of the dams, allowing the water to drain enough to allow for survey work.
The fix, said Engineer Bryan Dhume, is to clear trees and brush, repair 1,950 feet of subsurface drainage tile and install a 1,950-foot surface waterway between Route 665 and the railroad tracks.
“Ultimately, there will still be ponds where they mined clay (for the tile mill), but the entire property won’t be underwater as it is now,” Dhume said.
A second hearing on the ditch petition was held a couple of months ago. The final hearing will take place at 11 a.m. Nov. 27 at the commissioners office. Prior to the hearing, the engineer’s office will send notices to property owners in the effected watershed. The notice will include the preliminary assessments, stating how much the drainage repairs will cost the property owners.
The estimated cost of the project is $93,000, Dhume said. That figure includes a $31,000 contingency, much higher than the normal contingency because the project is unique and involves many unknowns.
Board of Elections Expenses
The commissioners approved a Board of Elections request for $26,400 to cover additional expenses for salaries, benefits, supplies, contract services and advertising. The money will come from the election revenue fund.
Director Tim Ward said the funding request relates to increased staffing to handle a large number of absentee ballot requests, additional mailings to voters, a Secretary of State directive to increase ballot orders, and advertising of ballot issues.
Ward noted that Mark Erbaugh, deputy director at the Board of Elections, is retiring at the end of this year.