Harrison County officials voice road concerns

CADIZ – Harrison County Commissioner Dale Norris spoke during the Shale Safety meeting Monday, calling on oil and gas companies doing business in the county to honor road use and maintenance agreements (RUMAs) for routes protected under such contracts.

Fellow Commissioners Don Bethel and Bill Host stood firm with Norris as the board voted unanimously to table all four RUMAs presented at the board’s regular Wednesday meeting.

“We feel that these companies must meet their current commitments first,” Norris stated. “I feel that we should table these agreements, at least until the next meeting to allow further review.”

The three commissioners confirmed their solidarity and said they will meet with County Engineer Rob Sterling today to discuss enforcement of current RUMAs and possible action which would reduce load limits on county highways. Norris stated that there are no statutes on time limitations for moisture restrictions and with the winter reductions taking effect Nov. 15, such measures could bring the drilling to a virtual stand still in Harrison County until next spring.

Norris said that he had been overwhelmed by the response to his statements from both citizens and representatives from local oil and gas contractors. “The news even made it all the way to corporate headquarters in New York City.”

In other energy related action, the board approved solicitation of bids for equipping the rail crossing on the new access road from Ohio 151 into the Midstream plant near Scio. Bids will be opened Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. during the commissioners meeting.

The board also approved Agreement 52-13 leasing 52.12 acres to Chesapeake Oil & Gas for $5,000 per acre.

Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers presented the new contract for the sheriff’s department union which the board approved. Contract 5-13 will increase the wages of deputies and dispatchers 50 cents per hour for the first year and two and three-quarters percent for the next two years. The contract covers nine officers and three dispatchers with a 20 cent per hour shift differential and a $5 increase on the longevity side.

The increase will total $16,000 adding one paid holiday. “The bulk of the increase is from wages and fringes,” said Sheriff Myers. “We did put a cap on these, and I feel it is a good contract.”

“The safety and security needs of Harrison County are a priority, and we want to continue working with Sheriff Myers to ensure that we are meeting those challenges head on,” said the Board Chair Bethel. “We appreciate Sheriff Meyers’ commitment to working side-by-side with the County Commissioners to make smart business decisions.”

“We appreciate your dedication and hard work.” Bethel added. “You and your department put your life on the line every day without hesitation and that is to be commended.”

The part-time deputies aren’t covered under the contract and will continue to earn $10 per hour, according to Myers.

The sheriff also added that the heating system at the jail needs to be repaired before cold weather sets in this fall, and the board agreed to have a contractor called to evaluate the problem.

In other business: The board accepted a bid from Columbus Equipment for a CP90 Paver for a purchase price of $159,000.

Approved re-appointment of Tiffany Stock to the Mental Health & Recovery Board.

Approved Resolution 19-13 for the Sheriff’s renewal levy to be placed on the November ballot.

Heard from Brenda Fargo of Palmer Energy about alternative energy programs available for county gas and AEP electric customers.

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com