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Resource officers will return to schools

LISBON — Columbiana County commissioners have signed off on an agreement that enables county sheriff’s deputies to continue serving as school resources officers at the United Local school district and the county Career & Technical Center.

Commissioners this week agreed to renew the contract between the sheriff’s office and the county Department of Job and Family Services that allows the JFS to use federal public assistance money to help pay the cost of assigning deputies to the two schools.

The unique partnership began last year after the former JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon came up with the idea of using surplus TANF funds for this purpose. TANF is money that goes for programs to help prevent people from needing public assistance or getting them off public assistance. This includes helping at-risk youths stay in school and keeping two-parent households intact.

Dray-Bardon said these deputies, by their presence, create a safer school environment that makes it more conducive for learning. Students considered at risk would also benefit from coming in contact with a deputy, who they can learn to trust and hopefully turn to for help.

The estimated cost of the two deputies is a combined $175,000, with the JFS agreeing to pay a maximum of $146,594 and commissioners providing the difference.

The sheriff’s office also has deputies who also serve as school resource officers at the Crestview Local and Southern Local school districts and the Knox Elementary School in the West Branch district.

In other action, commissioners authorized the JFS to contract with Terry’s Furniture Showcase in North Lima to provide bedroom furniture for children from income-eligible households. This program uses TANF funds, with a contract ceiling of $22,000

JFS Director Rachel Ketterman also requested and received permission from commissioners to raise the maximum contract levels for the following service providers: Comfort Keepers, $42,000 to $72,500; Companion Care, $14,000 to $24,000; and Extreme Love & Helping Hands, $16,000 to $42,000.

The companies help elderly residents who still live in their homes with everyday household chores they can no longer perform, such as doing the laundry, cleaning up around the house, etc. Some also provide home health aid. Ketterman said they are seeing a greater demand for these services, which is why she needed to raise the spending limits.

The contracts are funded by the senior services levy passed by voters several years ago, and anyone can sign up for the services, regardless of income, although there is a sliding scale. The most anyone pays is 50 percent of the cost.

Finally, county Port Authority Director Penny Traina and county Development Director Tad Herold formally advised commissioners they have worked out the last of the details in creating a framework for how the two agencies will function as one in a joint effort to coordinate economic development efforts in the county.

The effort began when the two agencies moved into the same building last year and concluded with the creation of the framework, which spells out the responsibilities of each office. Many of the duties will be shared by both agencies.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said this is what he envisioned when first proposed several years ago in an attempt to better focus the county’s economic development efforts through increased cooperation between the two agencies.

“Happily, we’re all on the same page now,” he said.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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