CADIZ - Harrison County commissioners recently granted a request from newly appointed Harrison County Court of Common Pleas Judge T. Shawn Hervey to increase funding for his court.
The court requested an increase of $29,000 into the salaries line item; $3,000 into equipment; $1,000, hospitalization; $3,000, PERS; and $150, Medicare.
"Looking at the office, the staff and the equipment, I saw a need to ask for some upgrades in all of those departments," Hervey said. "I had a little consultation with outgoing Judge (Michael) Nunner, as well as my experience with the court for the last 16 years, and what we are looking to do is expand the probation department."
The court currently has one probation employee and the judge stated that due to new procedures for sentencing, the workload has increased significantly. "Before we pronounce sentence on any person in criminal court there has to be an Ohio reassessment completed."
John Jackson, who in addition serves as bailiff, is qualified for the position, according to Hervey.
"I am looking to add one staff person to the probation department," he said.
"One of the main reasons I want to expand the probation department is that we have a courthouse security issue here," Hervey explained. "To me, coming in as judge, it is very scary and very dangerous to the public that no one is armed."
Hervey cited recent incidents of court house violence in the news that he believes illustrates the need for additional security.
"I would like the new probation employee to take on a lot of the bailiff duties, especially on our criminal and domestic cases." Hervey continued. "I think the top floor needs to be secure, I think our citizens need to feel safe when they come into our courtrooms. I understand with the proliferation of oil and gas that it is probably not practical to close off the courthouse.
"I do feel the actual courtrooms and that floor need to be secure. I think if I had that extra staff person I could devote more resources to a uniform, someone who is easily discernible as a probation officer and who is armed and I think that is very important," he said.
The judge added that Patti Sabo will replace an outgoing staff member in the judge's office and would be scheduled for a five-day work week.
The judge also stated three of his office computers are more than 10 years old and need replaced. The court has funds to replace two of the units but requested funding from the commissioners for the third.
"A lot of these are a one-time expenditure and I don't anticipate ever expanding my staff past that," said Hervey,
Hervey stated he had been looking at the resources and budget for the court since his nomination early in the year.
"First of all, I think it is important that we all understand that the judge graciously came and asked us for this," commission Chair Don Bethel responded. "He could actually demand it. Obviously this is something we don't have much choice doing at the end of the day."
The board voted unanimously to approve the request.
In other business:
County Recorder Tracy Boyer told the board she has blueprints of the new counter configuration in her office that will accommodate the 10 new computers provided by the oil and gas companies. The new flooring is arriving today, and when the construction takes place, her office will need to close for three to four days. The recorder also thanked the board for providing the former men's restroom on her floor for record storage.
Bethel announced the county proclaimed June 12 as Harrison County State High School Championship Qualifiers Day. The board saluted the Harrison Central Boys track and baseball teams for their recent trips to Columbus to participate in the OHSAA state championships for their respective sports.