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Amish, health officials work to resolve water, sewer issues

KENTON — Following a meeting between the three Amish families impacted by recent legal action, the Kenton-Hardin Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health, the three groups seem to be working toward a solution workable for all.

The three Amish couples told the health board Tuesday night they were satisfied with the recent meeting with Rebecca Fugitt, who heads the ODH Private Water and Household Sewage Department. Hardin County Director of Environmental Services Shane Lotts and Sanitarian Gary Shields represented the local department at the session and said Fugitt reinforced what the county expected from the Amish families.

Joni Hershberger and Emory Gingerich, who both live on Dudley Township Road 140, have been ordered by the board to address issues involving their water and sewer systems at their new homes or face condemnation of the houses. Henry Yoder is the owner of the Gingerich house.

The Amish did not comply with an earlier deadline to meet the local standards and the case was to be turned over to the judicial system following a hearing before the board in March.

The meeting was congenial and informative, those who attended said. Fugitt promised to contact representatives from Highland County, which also has a large Amish population, to see how they address the issues facing Hardin County. Her research indicated there is no policy in place addressing the sewer concerns in Highland County.

She reportedly offered to have engineers from the state agency review plans for sewer systems submitted by the Amish. Hershberger said those plans may be returned to the Kenton office before the end of the week.

“We wanted you to know we are working on this,” he told the board. “We are hoping you will give us time to make up something.”

Yoder also informed the board the Amish community had elected a three-member committee to oversee the process.

“We want to make sure we are doing this right,” said Hershberger.

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