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Health board allows Amish to begin building sewer systems

KENTON — Following months of negotiations, the two Amish farms ordered to install acceptable sewer and water systems at their new homes are close to making the changes ordered by the Kenton-Hardin Health Board.

Joni Hershberger and Emery Gingerich were given permission to begin constructing the sewer collection systems while further information is being secured from the state health department on the specifications. That information is anticipated to arrive at any time and the Amish farmers asked to be allowed to start the work in advance of winter weather.

Director of Environmental Services Shane Lotts said in addition to the report from the state, his department wants to hear from a committee appointed by the local Amish bishops. That committee, said Lotts, will help the local health department collect data for future construction of homes on Amish farms.

The information needed includes the estimated daily water usage of an average Amish family which will help determine what size of a system is needed to address the sewage from the homes. The local Amish data would take into consideration the size of the family and the fact there would be no flushable systems.

Sanitarian Gary Shields said he had contacted 12 counties with Amish populations and all were facing different situations regarding sewer regulations.

Lotts told the board the state has become increasingly interested in the Amish issue because of the local problems.

The court hearing filed by the board against the two Amishmen is set to be heard next month. Lotts speculated the deadline may be as much of an incentive for action by the Amish as the winter weather.

Board member Roger Crates said the situation could have been avoided if township trustees were more involved in what takes place within their community. He noted some of the homes are tied together by passageways, allowing as many as 30 people to be living under one roof.

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