By JIM MAURER

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County commissioners on Thursday rescinded a resolution, approved last week, to determine how much a 2.5-mill, five-year levy renewal would generate for operations at Blanchard Valley Center.

The commissioners then approved a similar resolution with a clarification that the funds will be used for the school and center, and not the adjacent adult workshop/industries operation. The industry is now considered a separate entity by the state.

The request came from BVC’s board of trustees, following a review of the prior resolution, said Assistant County Prosecutor Cindy Land.

Voters last renewed the levy in May 2014, when the tax generated about $3 million annually and provided nearly 25 percent of the center’s operating revenue.

Once the amount is determined by the auditor’s office, the commissioners will consider a second resolution to place the issue on the ballot. The deadline is 4 p.m. Feb. 6 for issues to be submitted to the elections board for inclusion on the May 7 ballot.

Separately, the commissioners approved a $13,686 change order for the fiber optic “loop” project being installed in county buildings. That will increase the county’s share to more than $406,357.

Findlay City Schools and Findlay city offices are included in the overall project, which will link the three entities.

Separately, the commissioners approved a contract with The Feasel Group, 2330 Bright Road, for $1,030 per event for snow removal of at least 2 inches. The contract covers removal on county-owned properties, and now vacant flood-prone properties that were “swapped” for maintenance purposes by the county and city. Generally, those properties are near other county- or city-owned properties, so one crew from either Feasel or the city can do the work.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Brian Robertson said he visited Miami County, Indiana, southwest of Fort Wayne, earlier this week to view the county jail. Hancock County is considering construction of a new jail, or expansion of the existing jail, to handle an increased inmate population and reduce the use of other county jails to house prisoners.

The Indiana structure features a steel modular “pod” design, he said. Construction of the more than 200-bed jail was done about 10 years ago, he said.

The exterior looks like a steel building, he said, which masks the interior steel and block structure, and provides space outside of cellblock entrances where maintenance workers don’t have to enter cellblocks to make repairs.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning is located in the “open” area, so prisoners don’t have to be relocated to other cellblocks while repairs are done.

Information is being gathered by the commissioners on expansion of the existing jail, which houses 98 inmates, or construction of a new jail, which could house 150 or more.

Expansion of the jail would likely require an agreement with the city to utilize all or a portion of the former Parker Lumber property on West Crawford Street, the commissioners have said. That property is used as a parking lot mainly.

Separately, Commissioner Mark Gazarek said he attended a meeting of the multi-county health insurance consortium in Sidney earlier this week and learned the county’s health insurance cost will increase about 1 percent.

Commissioner President Tim Bechtol said representatives with Garmann/Miller Architects, Minster, the company selected to design the new building which will house probate/juvenile court and other county offices, will meet next week with Judge Kristen Johnson and other county personnel “to more define” interior needs of the new building.

The county owns property next to the post office and next to the public library. One of those two parcels will likely house the new office building.

The commissioners want to keep the court downtown, close to the jail and other county services.

Maurer: 419-427-8420

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