Harrison DJFS contract expires

CADIZ – Scott Blackburn, director of the Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services, told the Harrison County board of commissioners Wednesday that a contract had expired on July 1 with Tuscarawas County DJFS which provided legal representation for the agency’s children service division.

Blackburn, when questioned on using the county prosecutors office, told commissioners that former assistant prosecutor Rhonda Greenwood, who left that position in 2009, and then prosecutor T. Shawn Hervey had not renewed the contract at that time.

The disagreement between the two offices was reported to be due to a lack of funding.?Current prosecutor Michael Washington declined, due to his transition and current lack of an assistant prosecutor, according to Blackburn. The contract with the county prosecutor was for $48,000 back in 2009, and Blackburn told the board Tuscarawas County had provided the services for $12,000 from their own inside counsel.

“We are currently soliciting bids for the job,” Blackburn announced. “We will keep the bidding open until July 12 at noon, then we will make our decision from there.”

Blackburn told the board that until such time as a new counsel is hired, his department is temporarily without legal representation.

Meanwhile, Harrison County is a county once dependent upon coal for it’s survival, and the county commissioners reaffirmed their support for the industry that made the county prosperous in the last century by approving and sending a resolution supporting the coal industry.

The request for the resolution was made by Doug Matheney, Ohio director for Count on Coal.

“This is a campaign to make America aware of the benefits of affordable, reliable coal-generated electricity,” said Matheney. “From homes to businesses to schools, hospitals and local governments, we all benefit from affordable electricity with stable prices and reliable delivery.”

Count on Coal is a grassroots organization that seeks to identify, educate and recruit Americans to support our mission to keep electricity affordable by protecting and promoting the use of our abundant coal for power generation.

“Coal provides jobs and affordable electricity,” Matheney told the board. “In the U.S., coal provides 43 percent of U.S. electric power generation and 73 percent of Ohio’s electricity, providing power for more than 60 million homes and 3.4 million businesses nationwide.”

He explained that the U.S. uses 979.6 million short tons of coal to generate 1,850.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. Direct and indirect employment generated by U.S. coal mining accounts for 555,270 jobs, for a combined payroll of $36.3 billion.”

“We ask that you draft a resolution and send it to Gov. Kasich and the Ohio Attorney General so they can pass it along to the Obama White House,” Matheney continued. “We are not opposed to alternative fuels or natural gas, we are simply asking the administration to continue to allow for diversity of fuel sources.”

“It is not financially feasible to abandon an affordable and abundant source of energy,” commission chair Don Bethel agreed. “Coal has been an important part of our economy here in Harrison County. It is both a part of our heritage and our future.”

“With no viable substitutes, I feel we should support this and will get a resolution prepared,” Bethel stated and the other board members were in agreement. “We feel the focus on legislation against fossil fuels is misdirected. We should be focused instead on becoming energy independent.”

Continuing the energy theme, the board approved an easement with Energy Resources to bore under the bike trail near the new access road being constructed to the Scio Atlas Gas Midstream facility.

The discharge line to the Kensington Cryogenics plant near Hanoverton will pass under the bike trail and was granted a 100 foot easement for a flat fee of $4,000.

“That money will be directed towards the trail committee,” Bethel reminded.

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers gave his final traffic count from the Scio Midstream entrance which showed a total of 45,108 vehicles entering the facility. “Peak time for traffic is at the 6 p.m. shift change,” Myers reported. “That brings the total to 351,355 since Nov. 19, 2102.

The sheriff reported that the traffic speed sign trailer will be relocated to Bowerston and Jewett in the coming weeks.

Myers also reminded that his safety meeting will be held July 29 at 10 a.m. in the library at Cadiz. “This is the only one in the tri-state area and it has been very productive. We invite anyone interested to stop in and join us.”

In other business:

Commissioners approved appropriation requests for $3,500 and $45,901 from the Common Pleas General Division to allocate the Community Correction Grant funds.

Commissioners approved deeding 27 acres of land in the Industrial Park to the county CIC. The board qualified the transfer as facilitating development by a business wishing to buy the property and promised more details in the future.

The board also deeded an easement of a crossing of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad tracks near Harrisville to Jason and Laura Florence for access to their property.

Commissioners congratulated all champions and winners from last week’s county fair and thanked all of the buyers for the livestock auction which set a new record.

The board also welcomed back John A. Bingham, whose refurbished statue has stood for years in front of the Harrison County Courthouse stained by oxidation. The prosecutor of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassins has been restored from his former green tint to a brilliant bronze sheen.

Palmer can be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com