County updates counsel fees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Hears from Third and Center on projects

The Lawrence County Commission voted last week to raise the reimbursement for counsel to match the standard set by the state of Ohio

The commission heard from JT Holt, representing the Ohio State Bar Association, who said the county’s rate was “archaic” at $50 an hour for out of court and $60 for in court.

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“I think it would be very valuable for the county to come into accordance with the state’s procedures,” Holt said.

Holt stated that the most comparable to Lawrence County is Scioto County, which was still higher at $75 an hour.

“A lot of attorneys don’t take appointed cases,” Holt said, stating, as a result, there were only a small amount of attorneys working and it creates a backlog of cases.

Commissioners Mike Finley and Commission president Colton Copley voted to change the rate.

“It’s good for our citizens who can’t afford attorney to have options in public counsel,” Copley said.

Finley also asked Holt if he would be interested in serving on a committee to work on the issue of building a new county jail.

“We need a new committee, and I’d like to see you on it,” he said, stating the county has “kicked the can” on the issue for decades.

Copley agreed and asked Holt to come up a list of names of people he thought might be willing to serve.

“And have their heart in it,” Finley said.

The commission also heard from Amanda Cleary, of nonprofit Third and Center group, who detailed a list of project the Ironton-based nonprofit is planning for the coming year.

Cleary said there will be a return of the Summer Solstice Music and Arts Festival, as well as the Ohio River Run, but that they are working on a number of new things.

One is partnering with Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities to create a mural on the floodwall, which would have a code that could be scanned to link to information on resources available to families.

She said they are also planning to address the lack of handicap-accessible playground equipment, including installing a fully accessible playground at Moulten’s Field in Ironton.

Cleary said Third and Center is a “unique concept” in that they work to facilitate projects in the community.

“We act as their 501(c)(3),” Cleary said of groups that come to them.

Another big project is that the group plans to create a youth arts program, which she said children could be signed up for, “similar to T ball.”

This program would start in Ironton and be expanded countywide, available for kindergarten through fifth grade this fall and expanded through high school next year.

Cleary said their group is funded through grant donations and sponsorships and that the often require matching funds for the grants.

She said they already have a commitment from the City of Ironton and would like one from the county as well.

— Commissioner DeAnna Holliday was absent from the Feb. 7 meeting. Due to press times, coverage of this week’s meeting will appear in this weekend’s edition of The Tribune.