Harrison gets grant money for Thinking for a Change program

CADIZ – Shawn Hervey, Harrison County Common Pleas Court judge, told the Harrison County commissioners Wednesday that his court received grant money and will be participating in the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, National Institute of Corrections Thinking for a Change program.

“Through the diligence of our Chief Probation Officer John Jackson, we have received a state grant to start this program, which deals with felony offenders,” Hervey explained.

Jackson told the board the state awarded the court an additional $8,265 ,which will fund a part-time certified facilitator from the East Ohio Correctional Center for the 26-class program.

“Thinking for a Change is an integrated, cognitive behavioral change program for offenders that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development and development of problem solving skills,” Jackson explained, adding that the skills will give the offender an alternative to the crime and hopefully prevent that person from becoming a repeat offender.

“One of the things we have struggled with is that we have an excellent staff at community corrections but we have not had the program to go with it,” Hervey added. “So you end up seeing the same people over and over again and the same behavior over and over again. That is frustrating for the court and for the community, and we think this will give us another tool in our belt to combat that.”

Treasurer Vicki Sefsick told the board that her office has sent out letters targeting 267 delinquent parcels totaling $1,106,000 for collection. The letter explains the property is eligible for a tax lien certificate sale, which is scheduled for Dec. 2.

The last day to pay with a personal check is Nov. 15 for land owners to remove their property from the sale. An additional $25 fee is assessed to each parcel to cover administrative fees. The parcels not paid by the Dec. 2 deadline will be sold to Tax Ease, which then will add 18 percent interest and put the delinquent account into collections.

Tax Ease will pay the county the full amount for all parcels the day of the sale, and then after one year, if they are unable to recover the past due taxes plus accrued interest and costs, they have the option to file a foreclosure action and sell the property at a sheriff’s sale.

Property taxes will continue to be charged to the parcel owner during the collection period.

Sefsick reported her office had been flooded with phone calls and inquiries since the letters have been sent. The treasurer’s office can be reached at (740) 942-8864 if there questions concerning the process.

Harrison County Engineer’s Office Business Service Officer Doug Crabtree told the board his office established the water and sewer taps and meter rates for large tap-ins. Rates are set at $65 per month for 3-inch meters, $80 for 4-inch, $95 for 6-inch and $115 for 8-inch and will come into effect Jan. 6. The 3/4-inch tap and a 4-inch sanitary sewer hook-up cost is $1,350.

Crabtree also announced the Ohio Department of Transportation published its prospective paving plans for 2014-15. No major paving projects are scheduled for next year, but in 2015, paving and repair of state Route 151 through Bowerston to Scio and from state Route 800 from Freeport to Dennison are scheduled.

Two county positions will be vacant, as the Department of Job and Family Services and Veterans Commission announced personnel changes.

The board accepted the resignation of social worker Sonja Todd. Director of the DJFS Scott Blackburn said the position will be advertised this week. It also was announced that Dave Rose is retiring from the veterans office, and funding transfers were approved to cover the salary of a new part-time service officer.

Blackburn also took the opportunity to thank voters “for voting to renew the children services levy.”

“I truly appreciate your support and your trust in your Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services – Children Services Unit to make sure the children of Harrison County remain safe.”

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers also thanked voters for supporting his law enforcement levy. He told the commissioners that several representatives from pipeline companies attended the October safety meeting.

In other business:

It was announced the Girl Scouts will hold a Dog Adoption Day from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Cadiz firehouse. Dogs from the county dog pound are scheduled to be available to visitors at the fire station.

It was announced the USDA – Natural Resource Conservation Service work group meeting has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Hopedale.

Commissioners said an auction will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 23 at the Harrison County garage and will feature miscellaneous county property, including a former sheriff cruiser, a county home van and a county highway service truck.