Guernsey County commissioners visited the county courthouse Tuesday to meet with Judge Daniel Padden and view on-going renovations in the Adult Probation Department.
On-going issues with water seeping through the sandstone at the courthouse into the ground floor offices and aging infrastructure prompted the county to launch an estimated $32,000 renovation project.
"It is coming along and looking good," said Padden of the work at the courthouse that opened in 1883.
During the renovations, contractors installed a foam seal on the interior of the sandstone walls to prevent water from seeping into the building.
They also installed new framing and drywall to improve the offices while installing an area for storing evidence collected by the probation department.
A similar renovation project is planned for the Juvenile Probation Department at the courthouse in the future.
Other recent courthouse projects discussed included painting the hallways on all three floors, repairing the roof and falling plaster in the main courtroom and cleaning gutters on the roof.
The judge also discussed a project by the probation department to digitize more than 11,000 paper pre-sentence investigation reports. The estimated eight to 12-page paper reports were digitized and downloaded to an off-site, secure storage facility.
Each pre-sentence investigation report contains family history, criminal history, drug and alcohol history, victim impact statements and, if previously convicted, probation history for the convicted felon.
"If someone is convicted of a crime and they have a prior conviction, we can go back to a previous PSI report and move forward from there instead of starting at the beginning and that saves time," Padden said.
Commissioners Dave Wilson and Jack Marlin also viewed the main courtroom and jury room at the courthouse for potential future improvements.
With numerous hearings taking place virtually while defendants are in jail and a need for better electronic devices for jurors to review evidence, both in the courtroom and jury room, the group discussed installing bigger video screens in both locations.
The common pleas court currently uses video monitors on a cart to display video evidence and that often impedes jurors' view of witnesses on the stand or the defendant.
"I think it's safe to say this will be the next area of concentration," said Wilson. "If we are going to ask people to sacrifice their time (for jury duty), we need to give them a better environment and tools to do the job."
Commissioners agreed to meet with Padden in the future to continue discussions regarding the renovations.
On a related note, commissioners signed the common pleas court's 2021 Projects Report in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code and issued a letter of support for the court's probation department.
In other business:
Commissioners met with Michael Art, a candidate for the apiary inspector position in Guernsey County.
"He is certainly knowledgeable and qualified," Wilson said following the meeting.
Wilson reported there are 140 beekeepers in the county. Commissions could take action regarding the position as early as this week.
By a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Skip Gardner voting no, commissioners approved a $65,000 allocation to the Cambridge Area Regional Airport Authority for operating the facility on Brick Church Road south of Cambridge.
Gardner said he opposed the amount of the allocation that will be paid in quarterly installments of $16,250 from the county's Special Projects Fund.
Other items approved by commissioners included:
An agreement between the Guernsey County Emergency Management Agency, Local Emergency Planning Committee and commissioners regarding services to the LEPC on an as-needed basis. The services include administrative support, community emergency coordinator, information coordinator, hazard analysis support, planning support and exercise support. The agreement is effective from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 at a cost to the LEPC of $20,000.
PY 2020 and 2021 sub-grant agreement amendment for Greater Ohio Workforce Board Inc. (Area 7) and Guernsey County.
A $56,653 contract between Guernsey County Department of Job and Family Services and common pleas court for magistrate services.
A $126,811 contract between DJFS and Guernsey County Juvenile Court for clerking services.
A $110,895 contract between DJFS and Juvenile Court for magistrate services.
A $66,552 contract between DJFS and the county prosecutor's office for legal services,
All of the contracts with DJFS will be funded by the Federal Financial Participation for Child Support Program with a 34% local match. They are also effective from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022.
Guernsey County commissioners meet each Tuesday and Thursday at the County Administration Building, 627 Wheeling Ave.
For more information or to be added to a meeting agenda, call the office at 740-432-9200,
This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: Commissioners discuss courthouse renovations plans with Judge Padden