Commissioners back request

Seneca County commissioners gave the Seneca County Bar Association its support to honor Ohio’s first female lawyer, Tuesday morning.

Local attorney Victor Perez spoke to commissioners about giving Nettie Cronise Lutes an honorary street designation or historic marker on courthouse square.

“I’d like to see something done,” Perez said. “You come into to Tiffin and you don’t see the fact that this is where the first woman was admitted to the bar in Ohio. I think she was third overall in the country. So it was a major accomplishment, and I think it needs to be noted.”

Cronise Lutes, who lived in Tiffin and attended Heidelberg College, was the admitted to the bar in 1873.

Perez said the bar association will set up funds to honor Cronise Lutes, but he asked commissioners to help maintain the historic marker.

Perez said he hopes to have the marker completed in September.

Commissioners expect to pass a resolution at a future meeting.

Also at the meeting, regional planning held its first public hearing about the Community Development Block Grant program for 2013.

Jill Griffin, executive director of regional planning, said the county could be eligible for about $89,000 the program.

The CDBG program can fund a range of activities, including economic development, street, water supply, demolition and other improvements, she said.

Fostoria will no longer be a grantee for CDBG money, as it does not meet population requirements, but will be included under the county funding umbrella, Griffin said.

The county will also be looking into applying for funds from Community Housing Improvement Program, which is a CDBG program, and regional planning will have another hearing March 12 to give more details on the CHIP application.

Last year’s CDBG money is toward the county’s energy saving HVAC control system. Commissioners rejected all offered bids received Feb. 5 and set a new time date and place to receive new sealed bids.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller said commissioners made a “slight error” and did not advertise the bid opening long enough, so they are going to re-open the bids.

“It was just kind of an oversight on our part; it was not done intentionally,” he said.

Commissioners will receive sealed bids for the HVAC control system March 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the commissioners’ office.

Zoeller said revenue from income tax is up slightly, and revenue from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is 3 percent over budget.

Zoeller also said parties involved with the Seneca County Museum are researching alternative ways to finance and operate the museum.

County administrator Stacy Wilson gave an update on the cost-saving incentive program, which will pay county employees for ideas on ways to save the county money.

The board agreed that if there is any money left in the pool at the end of the year, that money would go into the General Fund.

Wilson also said she has received employee wages from other counties’offices, as per Zoeller’s request, to compare Seneca County employee wages to other similar-sized counties.

Wilson said gathering the information has been a little more difficult than originally anticipated.

“If we’re truly behind, we need to address that,” Zoeller said. “If we’re ahead of the other counties, we need to address that also. I don’t know which way it is, I’ve heard there’s been a moratorium (on employees receiving raises) for the last number of years, so I’ve been trying to gather that information.”

In new business, the board approved:

An appropriation adjustment of $660 for Soil and Water Conservation District.

A supplemental appropriation of $13,500 for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Fund.

* A resolution appointing a new member to the Seneca County Revolving Loan Fund Board.

A resolution authorizing commissioners to waive the required tap-in fee for the facility on South US 23 on behalf of the Seneca County Sewer District.

A resolution establishing the SEN-CR 12/38/592 Bridge Rehabilitation Fund.

A resolution authorizing Wilson to sign the master equipment lease purchase agreement, pending the prosecutor’s approval.