Commission notebook: New overflow room, budgeting help, EMA roof repair

The Portage County Board of Commissioners met Thursday to discuss this year’s budgeting process and other matters. Below is a summary of the meeting highlights. Portager broadcasts of complete county commission meetings are available on our Facebook page.

With no livestreaming yet available, and with council chambers so small that meeting attendees are severely limited, county commissioners announced the creation of an overflow room. 

Instead of being ejected to the hallway because there are more than 10 people (including the commissioners, their clerk and public officials presenting information to the commissioners), attendees may now hear and view commissioners’ proceedings in a nearby room which has been outfitted with a large screen.

Portage County’s acting finance director, David Lair, informed commissioners on Thursday that he has created a job description for a newly created position of budget specialist. Lair and the commissioners had previously agreed that the position is necessary because there is no one to provide backup services in his office or the utility services department. 

Lair has contacted Kelly Services to fill the position on a temporary basis. If the Kelly temp is successful in the role, commissioners agreed that the person would be brought on permanently. Lair expects the rate of pay for the temp would be about $22.50 per hour plus Kelly’s markup.

Lair also noted a $14,000 payout to former finance director Todd Bragg. The payment is part of a settlement for Bragg’s sudden termination earlier this year, after a series of disagreements over communication and expenditures for the sheriff’s office.

Commissioners authorized Internal Services Director JoAnn Townend to move forward on a new roof for Station 30, which the Portage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management uses for vehicle and equipment storage. The building is located on state Route 59 between Kent and Ravenna. Townend estimated the cost of a new roof at about $45,000, and will try to utilize Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council grant funds to finance the job.

Commissioners accepted the monthly inmates meal report from the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, which indicated $30,679 for the month of March.

That includes 4,735 meals for the first week, 5,021 meals for the second week, 5,091 meals for the third week, 4,984 meals for the fourth week and 5,234 meals for the final week.

Sherri McGlothlin, administrative secretary to the sheriff, said the figures represent an average outlay at the prison.

Commissioners observed a moment of silence for former Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland, who died April 14. McClelland served in Geauga County for 44 years, the last 13 as sheriff.

McClelland’s dog Midge, who holds the Guinness World Record as the smallest certified police dog in the world, died hours later. Midge was a miniature Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix who often attended meetings with McClelland, Commissioner Tony Badalamenti recalled.

Commissioners issued a proclamation recognizing April as Fair Housing Month, noting that 2021 marks the 53rd anniversary of Fair Housing Act. Commissioners posed for a photo op with Todd Peetz, director of the county’s Regional Planning Commission.

Commissioners also:

  • Accepted the resignation of maintenance worker Vincent Saltsman
  • Authorized the part-time employment of Sheryl Kendrick as clerical specialist for the commissioners’ office, replacing the position previously held by Judith Common
  • Authorized the full-time hire of John Wood as engineering technician, replacing the position previously held by John Stirm, for Portage County Water Resources