County engineer prioritizes emergency and critical work

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(Posted March 25, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Just as schools and businesses are adapting their operations in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), so to are Madison County government offices and agencies.

Among them is the county Engineer’s Office, which closed its doors to the public on March 20. Three days later, County Engineer Bryan Dhume made the decision to delay routine maintenance work on the county’s roads and ditches in light of the “Stay at Home” order issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health.

“On (March 23), we decided to send our highway workers home where they are on standby for emergency and critical work,” Dhume said on March 24. “We want to make sure we take care of our team as best we can. The job I need them to do right now is stay at home and be ready to respond.”

He does have at least two supervisors out on the county and township roads on a rotating basis, patrolling for any issues that need attention.

Dhume said his office’s prioritization of emergency and critical work over routine maintenance will remain in place at least through April 6, the length of the “stay at home” order as of the Messenger’s press time on March 25.

“When the weather starts to warm up, the grass in the ditches will need to be mowed, and we’ll have (road and bridge) construction jobs to do. That will make it hard to keep our highway workers at home,” he said.

The entire staff at the Engineer’s Office remains on active pay status at this point. The engineers and administrative staff are working remotely.

“We’re still responding to calls, emails and regular mail,” Dhume said.

Another contact option is the “citizens request” function on the Engineer’s Office website. Residents can submit reports online of drainage issues, potholes and other issues, as well as general questions.

“The ‘citizens request’ is a new system we implemented late last year. This is a perfect example of a useful time for it,” Dhume said.

In addition to adjusting daily operations, Dhume said he is preparing for likely adjustments to the Engineer’s Office budget. With fewer people out on the roads due to COVID-19, he expects a significant decrease in gas tax receipts which fund road and bridge work across the state.

“Diesel sales are holding pretty true to projections right now, but gasoline is down by double digits, depending on the information you’re looking at,” he said.

To reach the Madison County Engineer’s Office, call (740) 852-9404. To access the “citizens request” online reporting system, go to www.co.madison.oh.us, click on “Engineer” under “Departments,” then choose “Citizen Request” from the column on the left side of the page.

Other county office changes

Other county government offices and agencies reporting operational changes to the Messenger include the following. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to check the agencies’ websites and social media pages.

Sheriff’s Office

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and in the interest of public safety and the safety of staff members, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office has suspended the following services at its administration office, 23 W. High St., London:

  • Conceal carry services, background/fingerprinting services, and in-person public record requests. The office will continue to issue Concealed Carry Permits for which applications were already made.
  • Public records requests are available by email request at records@madisonsheriff.org or by phone at (740) 845-1817.
  • Health care workers who need background/fingerprinting services should call the Court Services Division at (740) 845-1822 to schedule an appointment.

“We are being proactive in our approach to limit exposure as best we can,” said Sheriff John Swaney. “If a 14-day quarantine is issued to our staff, it would greatly limit our ability to perform our mission.  We hope this inconvenience is short-lived and we may resume normal operational service to our community.”

Auditor’s Office

The Madison County Auditor’s Office is temporarily closed to the public. The office continues to process forms, licenses, transfers, appeals and other documents. Call the office to arrange the handling and delivery of documents, as well as to ask questions or express concerns, (740) 852-9717.

Treasurer’s Office

Effective March 18, the Madison County Treasurer’s Office is open on a day-to-day basis with limited contact with the public in order to combat COVID-19. Anyone who needs to pay real estate or manufactured home taxes should mail payments instead of visiting the office. Anyone who feels the need to visit the office should call first: (740) 852-1936. The Treasurer’s Office mailing address is P.O. Box 675, London, OH 43140.

Extension Office

The Ohio State University Extension Office-Madison County, 217 Elm St., London, is temporarily closed. All staff are working remotely and can be reached by email or by calling the office’s main phone line at (740) 852-0975.

Contact information is as follows:

  • Arlene Duffey, duffey.2@osu.edu, office associate;
  • Frances Nicol, nicol.115@osu.edu, 4-H;
  • Mary Griffith, griffith.483@osu.edu, agriculture and natural resources; and
  • Deetra Huntington, SNAP-Ed program, huntington.41@osu.edu.

Information resources for COVID-19

  • Madison County Public Health, (740) 852-3065, madisonpublichealth.org;
  • Ohio Department of Health, coronavirus.ohio.gov; COVID-19 Ohio Department call center, 1-833-427-5634, 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.; and
  • Centers for Disease Control, cdc.gov.

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