The Adams County Commissioners met the past week to discuss a number of issues including increased security for the courthouse and the sales tax levy for the Adams County Regional Medical Center.
Changes are in the works for the Adams County Courthouse including new handicap accessible features as well as security measures. There will also be one lone entrance for the public to enter the courthouse in the future. The Adams County Commissioners accepted a bid from Venture One Construction Inc. to design the changes to the courthouse and awarded the contract to the company for $193,800.
“The bullet points for the plan are an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant ramp on the front end of the courthouse and an ADA vertical accessible lift inside the courthouse,” Adams County Commissioner Paul Worley told The People’s Defender. “There will be one entrance point for the general public and there will be enhanced security screening at that entrance.”
Worley said the issue of security measures at the courthouse has been on the table since the mid 1990s and now the plans are in place to get the project moving.
“In 2006 the Common Pleas Court had the Supreme Court of Ohio come in and do a study on our court security.” Worley said. “That security consultant group came back and had a confidential 18-page document that said what needed to be improved. It wasn’t until early 2013 when Stephen [Caraway] and I had just come onto the board and said ‘What’s the Board of Commissioners doing about security in the courthouse?”
Worley said according to the Ohio Revised Code, the security of the courthouse is under the responsibility of the county commissioners, and the board wishes to make sure everyone coming into the courthouse is safe.
“We live in the world the way that it is and not in the way we want it to be,” Worley said. “And every week we’re seeing some type of tragic shooting and people doing things you wouldn’t have thought of 20 or 30 years ago. And as the board is responsible for the security of that building, we have to mitigate the risk that’s involved and we believe we’re doing that by putting in these new security measures, but then also at the same time providing access to all citizens.”
Making a building that was built over 100 years ago compliant with the ADA, while maintaining a building pleasing to the eye is one of the challenges Worley said the board and Venture One will have to tackle.
“We wanted to design something that was compatiable with the existing building,” Worley said. “We didn’t want to put something on there that would be an eyesore. We wanted to make sure everyone had access to this building which is a little tough now since the building was built in 1910 and it wasn’t built with ADA compliance in mind.”
Adams County Commissioner Stephen Caraway also believes that the courthouse is in need of handicap access upgrades.
“The Courthouse is the people’s house. It is owned by every citizen in Adams County and I feel strongly that our fellow citizens with disabilities should also have easy access to the building,” Caraway said. “What we have now simply doesn’t meet the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and certainly doesn’t live up to our obligation to make the building easily accessible to those who are limited in their physical abilities. This plan fixes that.”
Construction on the courthouse is set to begin in August of this year and is scheduled to be completed by late November.
The current side entrances to the courthouse will remain but will only be used as emergency exits.
Also on the agenda was the tax levy for the Adams County Regional Medical Center which Worley also commented on after a meeting with members of the hospital’s Board of Trustees.
The levy, which will be on the ballot next election, will be a 0.5 percent sales tax increase. The ACRMC CEO Roland Gee said during the hospital’s Board of Trustees meeting on July 28 that the levy was originally going to be in place for five years, but is now only going to be in place for four years, if passed.
Caraway said he believes a strong hospital is vital to Adams County and its citizens.
“The Adams County Regional Medical Center is vital to future growth in Adams County,” Caraway said. “We must have a state-of-the-art medical facility for our citizens. Under the leadership of Roland Gee and the Board of Trustees, the hospital has made much progress in the past few months towards a path to long term stability. After careful deliberation and multiple meetings with Mr. Gee, the Board felt that a four year levy would be an appropriate amount of time.”
“I think it was something that was negotiated down,” Worley said. “I think we would all like to see a day where the hospital is self-sufficient and doesn’t need additional money to operate but with it being a county hospital we also have a responsibility to make sure that the hospital is viable and that people here have access to quality healthcare. Without this levy it would be very difficult for the hospital to continue to operate.”
Worley said he believes the hospital has a history of spending money wisely, but wants to show the Adams County Regional Medical Center that an end to taxpayer money has to come eventually.
“[ACRMC] is making progress in the right direction but they still need some help that the levy does with the equipment the hospital needs,” Worley said. “We believe the money given to the hospital has been spent well but I think the other piece for me personally is we want to see the day when the hospital is self-sufficient and we’re kind of putting them on notice that this is not a never-ending supply of money from the taxpayers. It’s holding them accountable but at the same time making sure the people of Adams County have access to quality healthcare.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391, firstname.lastname@example.org or @WUDefender on Twitter.