Edging closer

Commissioners plan justice center kick-off events

Seneca County commissioners are eyeing several dates as officials prepare to move into the Seneca County Justice Center.

Commissioner Holly Stacy said during a meeting Tuesday morning that the group expects the Lady Justice statue to be placed on top of the cupola soon. The date has been moved back because of weather. Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said Monday night the group is aiming for today or Thursday to set the 10-foot-tall, 2,500-pound solid bronze statue.

Stacy also said officials tentatively have set the evening of March 9 to debut the center’s lighting system. The ceremony is to display an LED-lighting system that will illuminate the building.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas said the color of the lights can be changed by a computer to a “virtually unlimited” number of combinations. The colors could be changed based on the time of year, such as pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or red, white and blue for Independence Day.

Officials also have tentatively set March 10 for a community open house at the justice center. It would give residents a chance to see the entire building before court documents and equipment are moved in the following week, Thomas said.

Move-in is to occur over the course of about a month, with occupants on each of the four floors receiving one week to get situated.

Stacy said a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a time-capsule ceremony are likely to occur together in May.

In other business, commissioners discussed landscaping and sidewalks around the justice center, as construction comes to a close.

Thomas, who heads the landscaping committee, said he recommends spending about $35,000 to install sidewalks in front of the building and repair concrete near the William Harvey Gibson Statue.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner said he thought the panel should discuss payment options for those projects with Tiffin.

The affected common area are not mentioned in the initial contract for the project and are subject to a 75-25 split with the city, with the county paying the larger share.

Stacy said they would discuss the issue with city officials soon.

Thomas also recommended a possible redesign of Court Street be delayed until recommendations are given by the Downtown Design Committee, so the street fits with the overall theme and look of downtown Tiffin.

The contractor for the justice center, Gilbane Building Co., must return the sidewalks and road on Court Street to the condition it was before the project began at no cost to the county or city.

The board agreed with the delay.

In other news, commissioners approved a resolution condemning a decision by the Ohio Enviromental Protection Agency related to a settlement from Volkswagen for altering emissions reports for new vehicles.

As part of the settlement, the state is to receive $75 million — to be administered by OEPA — that must be used for pollution reduction, but the OEPA excluded rural counties.

“We would like to have some of that money as well,” Thomas said. “It’s really a disservice to rural America.”

In the resolution, the board asked the OEPA to use 10 percent of the settlement on a round of competitive funding for rural counties.

“This could get a little traction,” Thomas said. “It’s an endemic thing of denying rural counties resources and we need to object it at every turn.”

Kerschner said it’s a matter of getting the county a seat at the table.

In new business, the board approved:

• A $3,500 supplemental appropriation to the County Sewer District Fund.

• A $2.76 million supplemental appropriation to the Justice Center Construction Fund, of which none is new costs associated with the project. The appropriation needed to be moved from 2017 to 2018 for bookkeeping purposes.

• A $163,000 supplemental appropriation to the General Fund.

• A $100,068 fund transfer to the Soil and Water Fund.

• A $5,000 appropriation for Transportation Improvement District operating funds.

• A $26,100.95 appropriation to upgrade security software at the county Department of Job and Family Services office.

• Establishing the Budget Stabilization Fund.

• A general consulting services contract with Stantec through Sept. 30. Stantec is a consultant with the county for Seneca County Airport.