Commissioners eye economy, infrastructure

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Belmont County commissioners took action on infrastructure improvement projects in the county and took stock of the area’s economic future during this week’s meeting.

Frank Papini, of the United Steelworkers, said the training and services offered through the Department of Job and Family Services would be needed and utilized by the area steelworkers as they acquired industry related skills. With the closing of multiple area steel plants, RG Steel employees’ benefits and a majority of their insurance will end Sept. 1.

“A lot of people are going to be facing some very dramatic life changes in the valley as far as finances go. Some retirees and active employees both,” he said.

Commissioner?Chuck Probst concurred that the closings were unexpected and would prove a hardship for steelworkers and their families and pledged the county’s support in the retraining process.

“We wish the steelworkers and their families the best and we’ll do everything we can to help,” he said.

In other matters, commissioners received two bids for the Community Development Block Grant Powhatan Point Route 7 drainage improvement project and turned them over to the Bel-o-mar Regional Council for review and recommendation.

Commissioners also motioned to grand a vacation of a portion of two 12-foot alleys in New Castle.

Commissioners motioned to approve the hiring of Jaelynn Smolenak as a full-time assistant clerk for the Belmont County Commissioners office at the hourly rate of $10 effective Sept. 4. Up on successful completion of her 120-day probation she will receive a 50-cent per hour raise.

Commissioners re-appointed Larry Merry, Belmont County Port Authority director, to the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance Board of Directors for a two-year term Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2014.

Commissioners motioned to authorize Probst to execute a subrecipient agreement for residential demolition projects pursuant to the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program effective Aug. 1. Barnesville will receive $40,000, Bellaire $30,000, Bridgeport $40,000, Martins Ferry $58,000, and Powhatan Point $30,000.

Commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing David Ivan, Belmont County EMA Director, to execute a hazard mitigation grant application.

Commissioners motioned to approve and sign a pay application $339,656.62 for Fields Excavating, Inc. for the Neffs sanitary sewer project. Commissioners also approved and signed a change order for $36,937.50 for the project.

Commissioners noted the upcoming expiration of the contract with Digital Data Communications, Inc., for information technology support and maintenance. The board authorized a three-month contract of $42,000, or $14,000 per month, effective Sept. 1, 2012-Nov. 30, 2012 to allow time to advertize for bids for said services.

A Town Hall meeting will be held at the Robinson Stage near the main entrance to the Belmont County Fairgrounds 11 a.m. Sept. 7. The Board will hold its regular meeting 10 a.m. Sept. 5.

DeFrank can be reached at