PORTSMOUTH — City departments discussed their work, plans, and needs during Saturday’s organizational meeting held at Shawnee State University. The work ranged from public health missions to infrastructure, but common themes did emerge in terms of their wants in the new year.
Many departments took the opportunity to explain their needs to boost its digital capabilities, the potential hiring of interns to assist in data collection and increasing their physical office space.
Early in the nearly four-hour session, City Clerk Dianna Ratliff said one thing she would like to get to in 2021 is the digitization of the aging records and files from the city.
This being a “historical department” in charge of recording minutes for Portsmouth City Council and City Managers sessions, files from as far back as 2009 for council and 2014 for the managers can be found on the city website.
“Some of them are paper thin and crumbling,” she said, these documents dating back to the 1800s. “We need to get those digitized before they literally fall apart.”
The Portsmouth City Health Department was and still is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has presented the department with many challenges including bandwidth issues.
PCHD Interim Administrator Belinda Leslie attested to this during her department’s report, slow internet pilling on time with its reporting of vaccinations to the Ohio Department of Health.
“It takes about 10 minutes per person to get all that information in there,” she said, referring to the state’s reporting system ImpactSIIS. “Yesterday we did a clinic with 251 people, so you do the math. We have 24 hours to get that in there, so the computer upgrade is a vital need we have.”
City Manager Sam Sutherland, a man with 32 years of public service, again discussed the city’s work with code enforcement. While the council previously passed legislation in December which authorized him to enter into an agreement with SSU in the creation of a code enforcement spreadsheet, further work is still needed.
“We all know code enforcement is an issue in this town,” Sutherland said to the socially-distant crowd.
The teaming up of a worker from his office and possibly one from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department could lead to a more thoroughly staffed code enforcement office, he said, currently led by Tiffany Hedrick of the Portsmouth Police Department.
Andy Gedeon, who worked with PCHD for the past 10 years, will join the office in March. Getting organized will be among his main focuses when he starts.
“We have all these different people doing different things and with my duties currently at the health department, it doesn’t allow me too much time to deal with code enforcement,” he said, describing the current work as a puzzle.
Having more time soon, he would like to reinstate the city’s target enforcement where the police and fire departments would take on illegal activities related to code enforcement. The program was suspended he said due to budgeting cuts during the pandemic.
Gedeon hopes through the expanded office that the enforcement process will be streamlined, where violators can either be fined or even receive jail time.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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