POMEROY — The Meigs County Commissioners took steps during Thursday’s meeting in order to place the levy and bond issue for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Facility on the November general election ballot.
The commissioners approved a series of resolutions which detailed the proposed bond issue/levy, certification from Auditor Mary Byer-Hill and the language to appear on the ballot.
The next step is for the resolution which was approved to be sent to the Board of Elections to be certified for placement on the ballot.
As previously reported by The Daily Sentinel, Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood requested the commissioners approved the placement of a 2.95 mill levy, with the intent to sell bonds, on the November general election ballot.
This is the second time that the county has been through this process, with the levy proposal for the May ballot being halted by the board of elections due to not being on the proper form and language that did not meet requirements.
Since that time, the sheriff, commissioners and others have taken steps to ensure that the filing follows the proper procedures and meets the guidelines set forth, working with a bond attorney.
Now, the ballot language is for a 2.95 mill levy, including a provision to sell bonds, which would provide the necessary funding for the proposed 71-bed facility. .
With the type action under consideration, the action would have been required to appear in two places on the ballot, meaning that there was a possibility of the levy passing and the bond issue failing, or vice versa. This had been the case in one county previously according to the commissioners.
With an action recently approved by Ohio legislators and signed by Gov. John Kasich, the levy, including a provision to sell bonds, it would only be required to appear once.
The funds from the levy would be used for demolition, new construction, furnishings and operations of the proposed Meigs County Sheriff’s Administrative Office and Correctional Facility.
The proposed 71-bed facility would be located at the site of the former Veterans Memorial Hospital. According to previous Sentinel reports, the former hospital would be torn down to make space for the facility to be constructed.
Speaking with the Sentinel on Thursday, Wood explained that the correctional facility would be more than just brick and mortar.
Wood explained that he and others have been meeting with Robin Harris and the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Board, as well as veterans services organizations and Hopewell Health Centers about the possibility of providing services in the facility should it be approved.
“If we are not making attempts to reach the root of the problem then we are failing in what we are trying to do,” said Wood of the need to provide treatment opportunities to those who are incarcerated.
The combination of the treatment programs with a correctional facility is a “new plan and new idea” for the area, and something that can be put fourth to help future generations, said Wood.
He also discussed the possibility that the program room which could be used for treatment programs could be open to the public which needs help, not just those incarcerated.
Wood said that there are times people will come into the sheriff’s office to ask where to seek help for drug addiction. The proposed new facility could be a way to provide treatment for those and other individuals.
State Rep. Jay Edwards organized a meeting earlier this week for Sheriff Wood, Commissioner Randy Smith and himself to meet with Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr and his staff to discuss potential grant funding and other funding which could be available.
Wood explained that Director Mohr is passionate about treatment programs and was receptive to the ideas being discussed for treatment opportunities.
The sheriff said he plans to be at the upcoming Meigs County Fair to meet with county residents about the proposed levy/bond issue and the need for the new facility. Additionally, he is planning to hold public meetings, with the first one tentatively set for Aug. 31. Wood said he is also willing to meet with groups and organization to speak about the proposal.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.