Commissioners discuss housing, more

Charlie Claywell - For The Register-Herald

EATON — Computer data, a fairground building and housing were a few of the items discussed during the Wednesday, Jan. 25, Preble County Commissioners meeting.

Earlier in the month, commissioners met with representatives of ISSG, an IT company, as the county determines how to handle its data — like real estate values and transactions — in a safe, secure manner.

The county is seeking to ensure safe backup of the existing bank of 17 years of data and a method to get the information safely on an off-site server via a virtual private network. The board is also looking for a long-term solution that, besides securing the data, also allows it to be formatted in a manner that it can be accessed in the future — regardless of the software utilized.

Although, the board has not made a hiring decision, they met with ISSG on January 11 to discuss what the company can offer. The commissioners have stated in several meetings, that the cost for a data protection plan could be as much as $500,000 if purchasing software, or $50,000 annually for a subscription plan.

Fairground building

Preble County Administrator Connie Crowell advised the board that she received a phone call from Protective Coatings Incorporated. PCI expressed interest in doing a fairground project, she said. The project, discussed by the board, is for a new building on the grounds.

The specifics of the building are in the preliminary stages and board president Chris Day suggested a “shell” be built, possibly with bathrooms in the first stage of construction.

“Do we want a place to replace Bruner (Arena)?” commissioner Rodney Creech asked, adding, “We do not have a nice place in Preble County where 300 people can get into a room, that I’m aware of.”

No decision has been made concerning which company will be hired to build the structure.

Public comments

The meeting began with comments from an Eaton resident about Preble County housing. The resident, Terry Willis, expressed concern that the wrong message was being given concerning statistics recently reported in a City of Eaton council meeting. In the meeting, Home is the Foundation Executive Director Bill Hutton advised council that 48 percent of the city’s residents paid more than 30 percent of their monthly income for housing. Preble County ranks slightly better at 43 percent.

Upon hearing the stat, Willis was concerned individuals would not be inspired to improve their financial situation.

“We need to grow the economy,” Willis said.

Commissioner Denise Robertson agreed, noting, though, that affordable housing is not a bad idea for new families, people graduating high school and people getting their first apartment.

“My goal is to provide a way for people to become self-sufficient. JFS (Preble County Jobs and Family Services) looks at ways to get people into sustainable lives…to help them get jobs and that kind of thing,” she said.

As the conversation moved from housing statistics to work and personal habits, Creech said, “There are a lot of jobs available and they’re not taking them. Let’s look at the real problem here. It’s drugs and that is what we need to fix.”

“That’s poor life choices,” Day said. “We all make decisions every day…if you’re making bad decisions, I can’t fix that.”

According to the Preble County Comprehensive Economic Strategy and Land Use Plan the board went over later in the afternoon, individuals working in the private sector inside Preble county earn 25 percent less than the state average wage ($633 vs. $839), a factor which could also contribute to the imbalance in their housing costs.

Preble County currently has a 4.6 percent unemployment rate.

In other news, the board:

• Approved $59,034.02 payment to W.G. Stange for 2015 Community Development Block Grant project.

• Transferred $15,323.93 from unclaimed funds to general fund.

• Approved a $16,000 expenditure between the Preble County Landfill and Manpower of Richmond for temporary labor.

• Approved two travel requests for Terry Pendercraft, Veteran Services. The first request was to attend the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers Conference in San Diego, June 10-17, at a cost not to exceed $4,000. They also approved Pendercraft’s request to attend the Ohio State Association of County Veterans Service Officers Conference in Dublin, Ohio, March 2-3, at a cost not to exceed $500.

• Entered executive session to discuss employment and possible discipline of a county employee. No action was taken.

Charlie Claywell

For The Register-Herald