PREBLE COUNTY — Representatives of the Preble County Board of Elections (BOE) attended the Preble County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22, to discuss early voting site and storage space.
Director Terri Hans began by reminding the board of their request for additional lighting and outlets for the early voting site. She added, they have one month before early voting begins and were looking for updates on their requests.
Commission President Denise Robertson thought they installed outlets, but Hans reiterated they need more outlets. Robertson asked about extension cords, but Hans replied, the BOE was told they could not have extension cords by the fire marshal.
Commission Clerk Kim Keller said this was the first she heard of needing new outlets and asked where the board needed them.
Hans added, Eaton Fire Chief Brian Smith will be visiting the Board of Elections to review their plans.
However, she said the lighting was the biggest issue needing to be resolved. She believes county maintenance staff needs to come up with an idea on what to do with lighting.
The BOE will be moving a necessary desk back down to the first floor of the courthouse on Feb. 14, which is the Friday before early voting starts. Following early voting, the desk will be moved back upstairs.
Commission President Robertson verified, the BOE would have another bank of voting machines and the desk in the lobby. Hans said that was correct. Robertson shared her concern over space, but Hans said they’ve measured everything out and are aware they have to keep the doorway open.
BOE staff also discussed security with the Preble County Commissioners. Hans mentioned the secure storage area in the basement of the courthouse, noting they had spoken about a dehumidifier and she was interested in any updates the commissioners had for her.
“We finally got in touch with a company who is going to come in and look at the ventilation and everything down there,” Commissioner Chris Day said.
Keller added, there was a company scheduled to look at the basement on Friday, Jan. 24. Commission office staff was actively trying to contact other companies as well.
“We’ve contacted eight different companies and this is the first one who [agreed] to come out and give us some type of recommendation,” Day said. “As soon as we get somebody to come in that does commercial work of this type, we can figure out the ventilation and get their recommendations. To stick something in temporarily, we could do a portable or something, but we were trying to do a permanent fix.
“We’ve been working to get someone in here, but this is the first [company] who said they would come out.”
Hans also asked about extra storage space and any plans the commissioners had for construction of the basement to provide that additional space.
“We kind of put that on hold until we could get somebody to come down and [see the basement],” Day said.
Commissioner Rodney Creech added, they do have plans to remove walls and redo the basement.
However, according to Robertson, first they are looking for someone to mitigate the radon.
Day added, maintenance has looked at the basement and has an idea on what they can or cannot remove in the basement to create additional space.
Hans also asked about lead paint found in the fourth floor secure storage area and the commissioners’ plans for remediation.
“We’re trying to get the basement taken care of and then we’ll move to the fourth floor,” Day said. “The fourth floor is just wasted space until we can find some way to address it. It’s kind of ridiculous we have that much area up there that is not being utilized.”
Hans added, they will be doing testing the week of Feb. 3. This means the BOE must bring all of their equipment to the first floor, but again, know they must leave the walkway to the stairs clear.
At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Rodney Creech added, “If you guys need anything, let us know. I just want to make sure our communication is open. Let us know — we’re here to help. The tit-for-tat stuff, it goes back and forth between our office and your office — it goes both ways — I’d like to see us get everything worked out and our two offices work together. We may not agree, but let’s take care of the county.”
“That is our intent,” Hans said.
“There will not be a need that goes unmet,” Creech added.
Hans replied, “That’s what we’re asking. We need to get started on this.”
“Unfortunately, in the public sector, things don’t happen overnight. That’s just the nature of the beast, but we’ve been working on some of these issues.”
Robertson added, they will meet all of the BOE’s upcoming deadlines.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH