Commissioners welcome new state official

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – New Ohio Rep. Joshua O’Farrell was formally introduced Wednesday in Belmont County, his first public appearance in the county since taking his seat earlier this month in the wake of former Ohio Rep. Allan Sayre’s resignation from the 96th District position.

The New Philadelphia native was appointed to fill Sayre’s unexpired term and was sworn into office during the first week of June.

Sayre resigned from his post in the Ohio House last month to take a job as deputy auditor for Tuscarawas County.

A 2000 graduate of New Philadelphia High School, O’Farrell went on to study at Notre Dame. After completing his undergraduate studies in 2004, he worked as a tennis pro in Oklahoma before moving to North Carolina to study law at Wake Forest. He graduated from law school last month, just days after Sayre announced his resignation.

O’Farrell, 28, son of Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Edward O’Farrell, was appointed by the Ohio House Democratic Caucus to fill Sayre’s seat. Five candidates were interviewed for the House vacancy, including O’Farrell, former Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas and Harrison County Commissioner Barbara Pincola.

In November, O’Farrell will now face Republican nominee Alan Landis of New Philadelphia in the general election.

The new state representative said that although his education and work had brought him to other states throughout the country, he has been eager to get back to his roots.

“I’ve always intended to return to Ohio,” said O’Farrell. “I’m proud to be from this area. I’ve always considered this to be home. Now I have an opportunity to give something back to the people who have helped and supported me.”

O’Farrell and his wife, Christin, have a young son, Liam, who he said has an opportunity to grow up in a “wonderful area.”

The 96th district includes all of the western portion of Belmont County, all of Harrison County and much of Tuscarawas County.

O’Farrell said he planned to work as an advocate for the counties he represents in the 96th District.

“I need your help to do that,” he told board members and the group assembled during Wednesday’s Belmont County Commissioners’ meeting. “I’m looking forward to a strong and healthy working relationship with the people of this county.

“Obviously, there’s much to be done. This is a difficult time, but hard work is emblematic of the people who live in this area, and with hard work, I have no doubt we can achieve our goals.”

In other action Wednesday, the commissioners opened one bid that was submitted for shower and plumbing renovations at the Sargus Juvenile Center. H.E. Neumann Co. of Wheeling submitted the only bid in the amount of $69,220. The bid was turned over to project manager Marshall Piccin for review and recommendation.

Piccin said the estimate for the project was around $50,000, adding that officials would explore why the bid was considerably higher than the estimate.

Also Wednesday, the board:

– approved the city of Martins Ferry’s application for the use of Municipal Street Fund/Vehicle License Tax in the amount of $54,390 for the purpose of paving Washington Street from Zane Highway to Grant. The total estimated cost of the project is $55,680.

– entered into a renewal agreement with the Community Action Commission of Belmont County on behalf of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services for the Ohio Family & Children First Council’s Help Me Grow Program for the early intervention (Part C) component. The board also voted to extend the contracts through June 30, 2011, which will allow for the expenditure of $191,938 in Part C funding through that date. Commissioners also renewed the CAC contract for the Help Me Grow Program’s early start component through June 30, 2011 in the maximum amount of $207,755.

Help Me Grow is a collaborative and integrated system of services and supports to help families create an environment conducive to growth and development of young children, thereby enhancing a child’s ability to learn, reducing incidences of child abuse and neglect and supporting parents efforts to achieve self-sufficiency.

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