Lawrence OKs funds, renovations

December 6, 2018

IRONTON — Lawrence County officials agreed Tuesday to spend $500,000 in state Medicaid sales tax funds for the Joint Operations Center building in Coal Grove.

The county received more than $5 million in one-time state funds from Medicaid sales tax funds. The Lawrence County Board of Commissioners is using the money on one-time expenditures, including $2.5 million for renovations and improvements at the Lawrence County Courthouse. Another $1 million is being spent to buy and renovate the Joint Operations Center, a former Ford dealership building in Coal Grove.

The Joint Operations Center will house 911 operations, the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, the county coroner’s office and a number of positions from the sheriff’s office in 2019.

The board, meeting Tuesday at the County Juvenile Center on Ohio 93 north of Ironton, also agreed to spend $9,000 for the first three months of next year for ankle monitors for non-violent offenders. The monitors save money on jail costs, said Commissioner Deanna Holliday.

The pilot program has saved the county more than $75,000 this year on jail costs.

“It’s making an impact,” Holliday said.

The county budgeted $750,000 to house prisoners at other Ohio jails in 2018. The board already has spent that money and added another $75,000 to that account, said Chris Kline, deputy county auditor. He said out-of-county jail costs likely will run between $900,000 and $1 million. That will require additional funds to be transferred to the account before the end of the year, he said.

The board also reorganized the county Emergency Medical Services, eliminating the post of facilities manager. Jeff Gaskin was placed on administrative leave effective Wednesday and the job will be eliminated at the end of the year.

That leaves Mac Yates as operations administrator and Lori Morris as finance administrator for the ambulance district. The move will save $55,000, according to county officials. The board named Gaskin, Yates and Morris to the top three administrative posts after Buddy Fry resigned from the top administrative post last year.

Having three administrators was a trial move, said Commissioner Bill Pratt.

“We had three individuals,” he said. “Two is effective enough.”

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