Harrison road debate continues

CADIZ The debate over road use and maintenance agreements (RUMA) continued at the Harrison County Commissioners’ meeting Wednesday as Doug Crabtree brought two new agreements before the board.

Commissioner Dale Norris questioned agreement 16-13 which specified sections of road for pipeline crossings on eight sections of county roads in four townships. “We have had to adjust to their 16-hour a day work schedules and accept their lifestyle and they also need to learn how government works and work with us.”

“I do not feel we should approve these piece meal agreements for small sections of roadways,” Norris explained. “Obviously fuel prices are a concern for all of us and they are going to haul these loads by the most efficient and direct route, so why not just make the agreements for the entire section of roads.”

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers agreed that the issue needed to be addressed, “Anna Kuzmich form ODOT explained that we can not control all the small truck traffic with these RUMAs but we are constantly getting complaints about loads on roads where they are not supposed to be.”

Crabtree commented that it was his belief that Carroll County had already gone to the policy of bonding whole roads on RUMAs adding that many of the drilling and pipeline companies were on deadlines and were requesting rapid approval, “We have had some contractors who call in and want approval for load routes in 3 hours.”

Sheriff Myers suggested a mandatory nine-day waiting period for all RUMAs to allow the engineers office and commissioners to review them.

Assistant County prosecutor Michael Washington stated that their were no statutes which limited the amount of time the engineer or board had to respond to requests for RUMAs.

The board tabled that agreement pending further discussion while approving agreement 15-13 which Norris stated covered the entire length of CR 17 between SR 9 and the next county highway.

Crabtree also updated the board on the engineer’s office research into digitizing the gas and oil activity in the county, “We had 2 wells in 2011 and 36 in 2012, the paperwork is growing out of the filing cabinets.”

“We are looking at contracting with our GIS company for online hosting of the information,” Crabtree stated the fee would be $240 per month to upload the data along with scanned documents, maps , plans and even videos of the road which could be accessed through an application for a smart phone. “This would allow access to the data for the engineer’s office, sheriff to check on hauling permits, work locations or any other information in the files.”

The engineer’s office will also be soliciting bids for their annual fuel, paving and bituminous materials. All bids are due by March 15 at 10 am when they will be opened during the commissioners meeting.

Commissioners also heard from Andy Atkins of the county Health Board regarding Charles Fisher, administrator of the Harrison County Health Department, Fisher is hospitalized and currently in intensive care. Atkins explained that in his absence a part-time sanitarian has covered the inspections and Atkins asked the board to consider funding a second part-time certified inspector to help with the busy schedule.

In addition to well and septic tank permits, the influx of workers has created a necessity to inspect and monitor campgrounds. Atkins told the board that the fees for permits helps fund the expense which he estimated would cost $1152 per month for 16 hours a week paying $18 per hour.

“It is important for us to keep an eye on the health of the community,” said Commission Chair Don Bethel. “We do not want people going renegade and doing whatever they want.”

Bethel stated that he would be in favor of funding the salary of a watchdog with oil and gas funds and told Atkins that the board would work to quickly find a source for funding and get back to the Health Department with a decision prior to their March meeting.

The Harrison County Treasurer’s Office has collected more than $132,000.00 in delinquent taxes between Jan. 28 and Feb. 25, 2013, an increase in such collections that has not been seen in years.

The increases in the collection of the delinquencies were initiated when Prosecutor Shawn Hervey’s office sent letters to individuals, businesses and organizations having taxes delinquent, some up to 10 years, according to Treasurer Vicki Sefsick.

Noting she had been searching other avenues to collect delinquent taxes, including a collection type business, Sefsick said the letter has “jump-started” the process.

“We have had numerous calls daily generated by the letters. My office has either collected the full amount due or initiated agreements where an initial payment was made with monthly payments arrangements. If the tax payer breaks the agreement, the prosecutor’s office will move ahead with legal action,” Sefsick noted.

This collection was made during the regular tax season which ends tomorrow. “Regular tax collection has been very positive this year,” Sefsick said. “All payments for the first half taxes of 2012 are due in my office by the close of business on Feb. 28. Anyone needing more information may call 740-942-8864 during regular business hours.”

The board also approved an agreement allowing the sheriff to spend $7,000 for a new policy manual. “Policies reflect state and federal laws and court opinions, they need updated periodically which we have been doing, but we have not had a new one in quite a while and it is time.” said Myers citing numerous legal changes in the 6th Circuit.

The cost will be $7,000 and will be contracted through the the County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA)and Public Agency Training Council.

Commissioner also got an update from Mike McGlumphy, Workforce Investment Act director at the Jefferson County CAC on the heavy wind storm grant clean up operations.

McGlumphy told the board that as of Wednesday 125 sites had been identified for clean up and he believes that there is enough work load to support a one-year extension. “We currently are working three crews of eight workers each in three areas,” We started with the bigger jobs and have currently completed six of those.”

He asked the board to approve a memorandum of understanding allowing the CAC to request an additional release fo funds from the Ohio Department of Labor for vehicle leasing while they wait for grant money approval form the federal government.

The vehicles, consisting of pick up trucks and vans are kept at the county garage and used for transportation and hauling.

Scott Blackburn also announced following an executive session that the Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services will hire Angela Manteleone as Unit Support Worker II.

In other business: The board approved $3000 for an initial purchase of 100 wood display case for memorial flags of service men and women as requested by the Veterans office.

“These men and women are why we are here and able to have these freedoms,” said Bethel. “This case is a wonderful way to honor the heroes for the family.

Palmer may be erached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com