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Harrison County To Buy Former Elementary School

photo by: Carri Graham

Harrison County Sheriff Joe Myers speaks to county commissioners this week.

Harrison County commissioners announced plans to purchase the former West Gate Elementary School to potentially use the space for county offices.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioner Paul Coffland said they are working on a real estate purchase agreement with the Harrison Hills City School District Board of Education. He said the plan is to purchase the property, which consists of 7.86 acres, for $200,000.

Coffland made a motion to authorize Prosecutor Lauren Knight to draft a contract with the school board’s attorney for approval to move forward with the purchase.

“This has been something that has been presented to us and we’ve been working through. Commissioner (Dale) Norris has been really interested in this property. We did an assessment of the building so we know what we’re getting into, and the next step is to purchase the property, then figure out what we’re going to do with it because we have a ton of different options,” he said.

Commissioner Don Bethel seconded the motion and it was passed. Norris was absent from the meeting.

Following the meeting, Coffland said they are exploring options on what the building, located along Peppered Avenue in Cadiz, could be used for.

“We have a number of different offices that could use the additional space. We could use additional space ourselves. So we’ll have to see what the best fit is and what the best use is for the public. We don’t want the public running between different locations, so we want to centralize the offices that should be together,” he said.

Coffland said they are still working out the details but plan to do some renovations to the facility depending on what offices will utilize the space.

“Overall it’s in surprisingly good shape. There’s no major expenses that the county will incur right away,” he said. “We also look at it that there’s some workable land beyond just the building.”

The building was most recently used to house the administrative offices for the school district up until the new school was completed in 2019, and has since been used for storage.

In other matters, Sheriff Joe Myers presented two pieces of legislation for commissioners to sign regarding a more than $9 million grant from the state for the new jail project — a resolution authorizing the execution of the grant agreement with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the agreement accepting the $9,124,020 grant.

“The state has requested, on our drawdown package that we do, there’s an agreement we have to get signed for that package. … It was an oversight, we should’ve had it done a while ago,” Myers said, adding that the legislation is simply paperwork to begin drawing the money down in order to move forward with construction of the project.

Commissioners signed both the resolution and the agreement.

The project is estimated to cost around $15 million and includes renovations to the current Army Reserve center building located along East Market Street in Cadiz, which will house the sheriff’s offices, and the construction of a new jail facility that will be built behind the center. Plans for the new facility include 60 beds among six housing units, a full-service kitchen and laundry, two sally ports for transport and reception, and a visitation unit.

Myers said he is hoping to begin construction sometime in September or October; however, the project must still be put out for bid.

Also, commissioners approved Engineer Doug Bachman’s recommendation to award a resurfacing project to the low bidder of $423,391.34 from Shelly & Sands. The project includes resurfacing of around 2.75 miles of Country Road 6, Norris Road, from the intersection with Ohio 800, Freeport-Tippecanoe Road, to the inspection with County Road 61, Friendly Ridge Road.

Next week, commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday instead of their usual meeting day of Wednesday.

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