POMEROY — The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office has approved the ballot language for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility levy, with the intent to issue bonds, for placement on the November general election ballot.
The Meigs County Board of Elections confirmed on Monday that the Secretary of State’s Office had approved the item to be placed on the ballot. The measure had initially been presented to the May ballot, but was not placed on the ballot due to concerns over the paperwork.
Commissioner Tim Ihle said on Monday that he was glad the issue had been given the go ahead as there was a lot of new paperwork as part of the process following a change to the law earlier this summer regarding the type of ballot action being considered.
Previously, the item would have had to appear on the ballot twice, once as a levy and once as a bond issue. The matter appearing twice could have led to the possibility of one being approved and one rejected which is what led to the Ohio Legislature taking steps to allow for the combination measure to appear once on the ballot.
The changing of the procedures created a lot of new steps which were unfamiliar to the county, leading to the hiring of Dennis Schwallie, a Columbus based attorney.
The commissioners and Sheriff Keith Wood had been working with the attorney who specializes in bond issues to ensure that the paperwork was correct prior to the filing.
“We broke new ground,” said Ihle of filing the paperwork under the new guidelines.
All of the paperwork which had been approved by the commissioners during their July 27 meeting was filed with the Board of Elections on Aug. 2. The board then sent the paperwork to the Secretary of State’s Office for official approval of the paperwork.
Ihle explained that the commissioner’s role in the matter is complete with the paperwork submitted and approved, it is now up to the sheriff to educate the residents of the county on the proposed levy leading up to the November election.
“This is giving the voters the opportunity to decide if the time is right for the county to take this step and do something big for the county moving forward,” said Ihle.
After learning of the approval from the Secretary of State’s Office, Sheriff Wood said that he is “excited for the opportunity to get out in the county and meet with residents about the proposed levy and the facility.”
The sheriff and his office will be at the Meigs County Fair to speak with residents, as well as hosting open house and public meeting events to share information on the proposal.
“I look forward to meeting with people from around the county and discussing our plans for the future of the sheriff’s office and correctional facility,” said Wood.
As previously reported, the proposed levy and bond issue would be used for the creation of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility which would house 71 inmates, as well as providing space for programs such as substance abuse and mental health treatment and counseling. The proposed site for the facility is the former Veteran’s Memorial Hospital property on East Memorial Drive.
The first public meeting is scheduled to be held from 5-7 p.m. on Aug. 31 in the Farmers Bank community room.
Open house events at the current sheriff’s office and jail are planned for Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, with each being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sheriff Wood explained that the open house will allow for county residents to view the current facility as he works to explain the “need for a new facility” during public meetings leading up to the November election.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org