Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton and commission clerk Mary Remsing. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton and commission clerk Mary Remsing. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
In a brief meeting Wednesday morning, Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy gave an update on COVID-19 in Highland County and announced an upcoming meeting to discuss records retention policies.

As a result of Gov. Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order effective Tuesday, March 24, Duncan said that county employees are still working, but many are doing so from home or on rotating shifts in the county offices.

“Each department has shortened their staff,” Duncan said. “A lot of them are working from home if they can do that and rotating staff in and out to comply with the governor’s orders to try and keep everyone safe.”

Duncan said that the Highland County Emergency Operations Center, which opened March 12, met Wednesday morning for over an hour “with a lot of new topics being discussed as to what needs to be in place here coming forth here in the county.”

“Work continues behind the scenes as to how to keep everybody in Highland County as safe as possible,” Duncan said. “I feel that those individuals are working hard at doing that. They continue to meet out there off and on all day long.”

Duncan said the EOC is in frequent communication with local life squads and hospitals and is also organizing the distribution of supplies to medical personnel.

“I feel confident that we’re in good hands,” Duncan said. “Those folks are working hard. They’re putting in a lot of hours.”

It was announced Monday morning that Highland County has one confirmed case of COVID-19. Duncan said he thought there were “as many as 16” tests pending as of Tuesday but had not heard any new numbers yet Wednesday.

Also on Monday, Gov. DeWine ordered action to cut expenditures at the state level. Britton said that the virus will impact Highland County’s budget as well.

“With this health crisis that we have, it’s definitely going to affect the financial side of business,” Britton said. “Some counties are actually putting out some statements on cutting their budgets. I think we just need to be prudent and err on the side of caution on our spending.

“It’s very important for us to take heed to this because we don’t know when this is going to end. Hopefully, the president and all of his goals and objectives are right and we can get this thing done by Easter. I think that’s a great goal, and I think if everybody stays focused and strong, we can get there.”

Britton reminded the community to do their part to “slow the spread.”

Abernathy said “the country needs to balance freedom and risk” and that “I don’t think they got it very right this time.”

“I hope we get back to business as soon as possible,” Abernathy said.

In other discussion:

• Duncan said the county records retention committee will hold a meeting Wednesday, April 1, following the regular commission meeting. The committee includes Duncan, auditor Bill Fawley, clerk of courts Ike Hodson, prosecutor Anneka Collins and recorder Chad McConnaughey, he said.

“We do have a new body scanner at the sheriff’s office, so we’ll have to create some policy as to how long those records will be kept,” Duncan said. “We’ll get guidance from the sheriff’s office.”

• Britton reminded commissioners that Chuck Taylor’s last day of work before retiring is Friday, March 27. Taylor does maintenance work and writes programs from the county.

“We wish him well in his retirement,” Britton said.

• Abernathy said the county dog pound is closed on Saturdays until further notice. The pound will remain open Monday through Friday.

In other action, commissioners approved one resolution by a 3-0 vote: a request from Highland County Airport for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Capital Improvements - Airport in the amount of $1,668.46.