Jefferson County tackles junk car problem

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday discussed junk cars throughout the county and agreed to sign a grant application for a new water treatment plant in Brilliant.

County Commissioner David Maple said he was contacted by a real estate agent trying to sell houses on JFK Highway (County Road 47) to people interested in moving into the county. Maple said the real estate agent is having a hard time selling properties because of the junk cars on private property along the road.

Sheriff’s department Sgt. Terry Grindle, who is the litter enforcement officer for the JB Green Team, said there are 60 junk vehicles on the JFK Highway.

Maple said an Ohio law states a sheriff, highway patrol trooper or township trustee can send a certified letter to the property owner ordering the junk vehicles to be moved off the property or put in a garage within 10 days. But Terry Bell of the county township trustee association said the property owner simply can refuse to accept the certified letter. He said it should be personally served by a deputy sheriff.

The auditor’s office reported there are only two registered junkyards in the county.

Maple noted the prosecutor’s office will be asked to come to next week’s meeting to discuss enforcement of junk vehicles.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said it appears even law enforcement officers are confused about how to enforce junk vehicle laws.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the commissioners have to sit down with county court judges asking for their cooperation in enforcing the laws.

“Having a vehicle up on blocks in the front yard is not good for neighbors,” Maple said.

The county needs a good system in place for enforcing the laws, he added.

In other matters, commissioners signed a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the Brilliant Water and Sewer District, which has plans to build a $2.9 million water plant. The district has three wells but only one is permitted to supply water to the district. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said a water treatment plant is needed for the other two wells.

Brilliant supplies water to the county for the county’s south end system.

Commissioners also:

n Agreed to set aside $40,000 out of the computer fund to pay for the board of elections’ contract for software and maintenance of voting machines for 2018. The bill will be due in November.

n Agreed to remove the 911 five-year 1.5-mill renewal levy from the May 2 primary election ballot because the county would have to pay between $55,000 and $65,000 due to the lack of candidates and issues on the ballot. Robert Herrington, 911 director, said, of the 71 precincts in the county, 911 would have to pay the entire cost of opening 43 precincts and sharing the cost of 28 other precincts. The levy will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

n Agreed to lower load limits on various Saline Township roads by 25 percent through April 30 for the frost-thaw season.

n Approved attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants for February in the amount of $38,799.

n Agreed to hire Wayne Parks of Brilliant as a wastewater treatment plant operator for the county. Michael Eroshevich, county water and sewer department director, said Parks has state licenses to operate wastewater treatment plants. Parks is employed at the Mingo Junction plant.

n Appointed Tony E. Morelli of Wintersville to the Jefferson County Metropolitan Housing Authority board of commissioners.