JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to recommend special counsel for the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas and Eastern and Western County courts mediation with the Ashtabula County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to the resolution, the courts have stated they would like to be represented by Jonathan Coughlan, of Columbus, with a maximum cost of $5,000.

Commissioner Casey Kozlowski said the judges will have to approve the appointment.

In August of 2021, the Ashtabula County Common Pleas, Eastern County Court and Western County Court judges signed a letter to the commissioners, asking that outside legal counsel be appointed for them, claiming Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole could not ethically represent the courts.

In response to the letter, the commissioners suggested mediation between the judges and the Prosecutor’s Office.

In May, the commissioners approved funding for outside counsel for mediation.

The commissioners are seeking a list of items to be mediated from both sides, Kozlowski said. The county will contact the Ohio Supreme Court’s mediation office soon, he said.

According to the resolution, O’Toole concurred that outside representation was necessary.

In other business:

• The commissioners approved publishing requests for proposals for the Independence and Wellness, Home Delivered Meals, Personal Care and Transportation programs.

The programs provide services to county residents 60 years and older.

• Commissioner Kathryn Whittington said at a Tuesday morning work session she is working on a grant application for a Storybook Trail. Whittington said in a recent visit to Gov. Mike DeWine’s residence, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine showed her around a Storybook Trail.

“Storybook Trail is part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which we have here locally, in Ashtabula County,” Whittington said. “That serves children, birth to five, for free. They get a book every month.”

Up to $10,000 in grant funding is available. Story books are broken down and placed on plaques along the trail.

“We are looking at some areas in south county to put the Storybook Trail in,” Whittington said.

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