Harrison court funding hiked

CADIZ Harrison County commissioners granted a request from newly appointed judge on the Harrison County Court of Common Pleas, General and Domestic Relations Divisions, T. Shawn Hervey, to increase funding for his court.

The court requested the following appropriations: An increase of $29,000 into the Salaries line item, $3,000 into Equipment, $1,000 into Hospitalization, $3,000 into PERS, $150 into 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 as he addressed the board. “I had a little consultation with outgoing Judge 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 that the workload has increased significantly. “Before we pronounce sentence on any person in criminal court there has to be an Ohio reassessment completed.”

The only person qualified is John Jackson, who in addition serves as bailiff for the court. “I am looking to add one staff person to the probation department.”

“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 which 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 fell 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 and I look forward to working with judge Puskarich to try and come up with protocol to see that happens,” the judge said. “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.”

The judge added that Patti Sabo would be replacing an outgoing staff member in the judges office and in addition to some benefits due the former employee that Sabo would be scheduled for a five day work week where the post had been a four day position.

The judge also stated that three of his office computers were over 10 years old and needed 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, “I believe, after careful study that this is what the office needs.”

Hervey stated that he had been looking at the resources and budget for the court since his nomination early in the year, “Now that nI have been appointed I believe that these are necessary and reasonable expense and I would humbly ask for you to grant this request.”

“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 si something we dont; have much choice doing at the end of the day.”

“Here is how I feel about that commissioner,” Hervey defended. “I am a servant of the people just like all of the other office holders and I am not going to do something without asking for it.”

“If I thought it was absolutely necessary I might consider using that power, but that is a power that should never be held over anyone’s head.”

“I think this is for the benefit of the citizens Harrison County and if I did not believe that I would keep things as they are,” Hervey continued. “I assure you I am not going to do things without coming and talking them over with you first.”

After the exchange the board voted unanimously to approve the request.

In other business:

County Recorder Tracy Boyer told the board that she blue prints of the new counter configuration in her office which 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 3 to 4 days. The recorder also thanked the board for providing the former mens restroom on her floor for records storage.

Commissioner Bethel announced that the county proclaimed June 12, 2013 as Harrison County State High School Championship Qualifiers Day. The board saluted the Harrison Central Boys 4×400 track team and baseball team for their recent trips to Columbus to participate in the OHSAA State Championships for their respective sports.

The board transferred $384.39 from assistance to hospitalization and $181.55 from workers comp to expenses for the Veterans Office.

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com