BEGINNING OF DAY … Williams County Commissioners’ schedule was full for the morning of January 9, 2023. They began the day with an executive session which included Judge Karen Gallagher, JFS Director Fred Lord and County Prosecutor Katie Zartman, to discuss employment. Upon coming out of executive session, Lord explained the employment need publicly and the commissioners approved a motion to hire a Kinship Navigator. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Williams County Commissioners began their sessions on Monday, January 9, 2023 with an executive session at 8 a.m. for employment.
Present for the meeting along with Commissioners Lew Hilkert, Bart Westfall and Terry Rummel, were Judge Karen Gallagher, Prosecutor Katie Zartman and Executive Director of JFS Fred Lord.
Joining them via Zoom was Doug Lumpkin. Coming out of executive session, President Hilkert stated that there might be action taken and invited Lord to address the board in open session.
Lord asked the commissioners to consider allowing JFS to hire a “Kinship Navigator” who would “plug in to engage with families to help with assistant things and maybe contact them on a monthly basis.”
He said that after the position is created, they will determine the specifics of the duties, but the basic purpose would be to ensure that families are getting what they need financially, that they are aware of the benefits available to them and that even those who have had to move across state borders can still be assisted.
He said that this is needed “so that we don’t have to disrupt kinship placements and people can be financially secure in providing for the kids that we have place in their homes.”
A motion was made and approved to authorize the JFS director to work on an agreement with the prosecutor’s office to “potentially tap into the 1.6 million dollars that the county has in Foster Care Placement.”
Rummel, who made the motion, stated, “Due to the way we are doing things, I understand that we are not tapping into those resources.”
The motion was for up to $250,000 and to hire someone to administer the program “and to help lay it out for the community and for everybody to understand.”
During the next portion of the meeting, the commissioners heard from Judge Gallagher concerning space limitations and prospective staff planning.
The judge thanked them for the time and began to share details of the numbers of cases they have been seeing over the past three years and how her staff have handled it all so far.
Over the last year cases in the juvenile and in the probate divisions have been increasing.
In the Probate Division they average approximately 600 total cases per year.
In addition, they maintain oversight of some 200 guardianship cases per year.
A number of situations have caused these numbers to grow and two staff members are dedicated to process the cases.
“We have had increases in all areas of the juvenile division and none so significant as our Abuse Neglect Dependent Cases, these are very serious cases for the children and the families in Williams County,” she said.
She continued that in 2021 there were 38 total case filings and in 2022 there were 101 cases. Other areas have grown as well.
As Gallagher is in the third year of her term she said that the only area of decrease has been in truancy and she said she relates that to the schools efforts.
“Having County Truancy officers, a new diversion officer and how we handle these cases in court” have been a great assistance.
With all of this trending, she said that at some point they need to increase staff.
The second issue was concerning the need for more space as they are looking into some programming that will need office space.
Following an in-depth discussion about this, Gallagher said she does not have a solution unless the entire courthouse was turned over to the courts use, and asked that the commissioners work with her to come up with a solution.
She said that she wanted them to be aware of the needs at the beginning of the year so that they can be working on a plan.
Following a short recess, the commissioners went back into session. They approved the following:
-Resolution 25: Appointing members to the Williams County Board of DD; Tonya Robarge reappointed.
-Resolution 26: Approving FY 2023 Funding extension from Area office on Aging on behalf of Williams County Department of Aging.
-Resolution 27: Entering into an agreement with The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Internation, Inc. on behalf of Williams County 911 Communications.
-Resolution 28: Entering into a IV-E (4E) contract with Community Teaching Homes, Inc. on behalf of Williams County JFS.
-Resolution 29: Entering into a IV-E contract with Turning Point Residential Services on behalf of Williams County JFS.
-Resolution 30: Entering into a IV-E contract with Unk’s Place on behalf of Williams County JFS.
-Resolution 31: Entering into a IV-E contract with Ohio MHAS – Cornell Abraxas Group LLC on behalf of Williams County JFS.
-Resolution 32: Entering into a Wellness Grant Agreement with CEBCO to promote wellness for 2023.
-Resolution 33: Entering into a contract extension agreement with House of Prayer Church on behalf of Williams County JFS.
-Also signed: Training proposal for JFS; Treasurer’s Financial Statement; Travel for Michael Levy for Motorola Summit; Courthouse Permit: Right to Life 22nd of each month in 2023 and another permit American Marriage Ministries – various dates through year; MVPO CHIP payoff/release from 2011; ODOD Contracts form; two PY 2022. Community Housing Impact and Preservation Programs.
-Minutes from January 5, 2023 and payment of bills.
Following another short recess, they went back into regular session to meet with the Board of Elections for office updates with Gene Woodring from Maintenance, Grant Sims BOE director and AJ Nowaczyk deputy director.
Nowaczyk addressed the reason for their visit with the commissioners to be to discuss some office renovations.
He expressed the need for some private rooms with doors, for private or sensitive conversations to be held.
Their plan is to move into the side rooms and have the door widened a little. They had quotes which they had gathered with Woodring from Elite Door for around $3100.
That will be covered by funds from 2022 and then there will be some additional costs.
Woodring informed the commissioners that they will need to carpet the room and already have the carpet; new base boards can be done from leftover base boards from the building construction; he will need to relocate the new light switch; the door opening has to be shifted down and reframed.
Hilkert asked if he has the blueprints so they know where the metal studding is and Woodring replied in the affirmative.
Sims said that he thinks it is a good idea to have some separate spaces for privacy and it will be a good change. A motion was made and approved to do the renovations.
Another recess was held for a few minutes before the commissioners went into an executive session for pending or imminent court action, with Katie Zartman and Todd Roth, County Engineer.
They came out of executive with no action taken and adjourned for the day.
Rebecca may be reached at email@example.com