WILMINGTON — Looking down the road a bit, Clinton County may go in the direction of seating a second common pleas judge who, like the current position, would be an elected official.
Clinton County commissioners have begun their annual process of meeting with county department heads in order to put together a budget for the following calender year. On Monday, they met with Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck who brought up the possibility of a second judge a few years back.
The local caseload numbers justify a second judge, said Rudduck.
The Ohio Supreme Court has been “pushing” for the creations of family courts, which would take domestic relations cases out of the Common Pleas Court’s General Division, he said.
Family courts bring child- and family-related cases into one court, according to a publication of the National Center for Juvenile Justice in conjunction with the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Rudduck described a family court as “a hybrid” court.
However, Rudduck said his guess is that if the matter were studied, the local need would be for another judge to hear felony criminal cases.
The judge said Magistrate Helen Rowlands, who presides over Clinton County domestic relations cases, will be retiring in 2021.
If and when there is a second judge, then there might be a need for only one magistrate, said Rudduck. Presently, there are two magistrates: Rowlands and Mary McElwee, who handles civil lawsuit cases. The magistrates are not elected.
A second judge would be paid for by the state supreme court, Rudduck said.
He said he would like to get started on a second-judge option with some sort of planning involving collaboration among the county commissioners, the court, and the local Bar Association.
Chief Adult Probation Officer Duane Weyand attended the same Monday appointment as Rudduck, in conjunction with the court’s Adult Probation Office’s 2021 budget.
Rudduck took the opportunity to commend Weyand, and the way the Clinton County Common Pleas Court’s Supervision Staff works “as a unit philosophically and professionally.”
The judge said Weyand’s staff includes four licensed social workers. That may seem odd for a Probation Department, added Rudduck, “but we’re doing a lot of in-house counseling.”
Rudduck said, “I think the results [of the Probation Department staffing] are showing themselves in Clinton County.”
Weyand added that U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-15th District of Ohio) was impressed with the court’s supervision staff trying to do as much counseling as it can in-house. In-house counseling has an advantage of having “a little more teeth” than a private counseling service does, said Weyand.
Gerber steps down
At a separate Monday appointment, Clinton County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) President Scot Gerber advised commissioners he was wrapping up his presidency and his three three-year terms on the Agricultural Society Board of Directors.
Gerber was appointed to the Board of Directors in September 2011, and then elected president in November of that same year. He was president through 2012, was a board member in 2013, and since 2014 has served as the president.
“Now it’s time for the next generation to take their turn. And hopefully they can continue to improve and build and do what we’ve started out. I think that’s important,” Gerber told the News Journal after the commissioners meeting.
During that meeting, he thanked commissioners for their support during his tenure; and all three commissioners likewise expressed appreciation for what he and the Ag Society Board of Directors have accomplished.
Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said, “You were a champion of the fairgrounds over everything else. And it was always for what? For the kids and the community.”
Gerber said he will continue to serve on the 4-H Committee and to be a 4-H advisor.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.