Gov. Kasich to restrict food stamps

CADIZ – Harrison County Commissioners observed a moment of silence Wednesday to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the one year anniversary of the fatal terrorist attack at Benghazi.

The director of the Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services then told the board of commissioners that the administration of Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to limit food stamps for more than 130,000 adults in all but a few economically depressed areas of the state starting next year.

According to Scott Blackburn, director of the Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS), the requirement will cover able-bodied adults without children which he stated will affect more than 100 residents currently enrolled in the SNAP program in Harrison County.

“After Oct. 1, these individuals will be required to spend at least 20 hours a week working, training for a job, volunteering or performing a similar type of activity,” Blackburn read from a press release. “These requirements begin next month but, those failing to meet them would not lose their benefits until Jan. 1 of 2014.”

“For years, Ohio has taken advantage of a federal waiver exempting food stamps recipients from the work requirements,”?Blackburn explained. “It’s important that we provide more than just benefits, that we provide job training, an additional level of opportunity that helps get them off of assistance and out of poverty.”

“We have called Columbus for clarification as to whether these individuals will receive a work allowance but have not heard back on that as of yet,” Blackburn stated, saying that Harrison was not one of the 16 high unemployment counties exempt from the requirements.

Blackburn also announced that employment opportunities will be extended for some county residents who are enrolled in the summer youth work program and storm clean up work programs. “The summer youth program has been extended through October, and the state has extended the storm clean up program through June 30, 2014.”

Blackburn also announced following a brief executive session that two new hires will be filling the Unit Support II jobs at DJFS, Billie Allison and former employee Benna Kelley, who had been laid off in the earlier reduction in force action.

Blackburn also announced that the roof work was nearing completion and that the Solid Waste District had remodeled the recycling area in the DJFS parking lot.

The remainder of the meeting was again centered around the county road issues. Bob Stewart, Washington Township Trustee told the board that residents of his township had complained about the repairs to several county roads which were chipped and sealed rather than repaved.

Commissioner Dale Norris explained that Gulfport Energy was taking advantage of the county and that the commissioners were discussing the issue with County Engineer Rob Stewart working towards a solution.

The trustee also told the board that the Tulsa-based Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Company had been routinely violating requirements for hauling permits and RUMAs for haul routes. Stewart stated that when he approached their construction foreman, he had been told that the company was exempt from any such requirements. The board admitted the company was working under an early RUMA with Enterprise Gas which was vague and encompassed the entire county, and they would investigate methods to amend the agreement.

Stewart also stated that he witnessed an oversized load being escorted by units of the Ohio State Highway Patrol nearly run a school bus loaded with children off the road on CR 24. Commission chair Don Bethel said that the Harrison Hills City School District Director of Operations. Mark Kowalski had passed out bus routes and schedules at the monthly safety meeting but no representative of that particular company had been in attendance. The board will try and find a method to make the schedules available online for haulers. They will also consider language in all RUMAs and hauling permits prohibiting transport during times where bus routes are in the area.

The board passed agreement 60-13 with Ohio Gathering for 0.3 miles of CR 63, Country Club Road, from the village limits to US 250. The RUMA includes the new language which states all road crossing must be approved by both the County Engineer and the commissioners.

In other business: The board approved transfer of funds for the Health Department in the amount of $9,000 from the salaries line item, with $7,300 going into contract services, $700 into state fees and $1,000 into the contingency fund.

The board also appointed Don Bethel to the Eastern Ohio Economic Development Association board of directors for a one year term beginning in January 2104.

Doug Crabtree announced that the next County Fire Association meeting would be held next Thursday. Sept. 19, at the Bowerston Fire Station.

Palmer may be reached at