Commissioners sign oil-gas lease

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County commissioners made progress on several development issues during their Wednesday meeting.

Commissioners motioned to enter into an oil and gas lease with Rice Drilling D, LLC, in the amount of $7,500 per net mineral acre for 406.4426 gross acres for a five-year option to renew, with a royalty of 20 percent.

Commissioners Matt Coffland and Ginny Favede voted to approve. Commissioner Charles R. Probst Jr. was not present, having been called away after proceedings, but had objected to making a decision. He said more time was necessary to thoroughly research the proposal.

Probst said they received the initial draft of the lease two months prior. Within the past few weeks, the commissioners have worked with the company and prosecutor to refine it. He noted an enhancement clause calling on the county to pay 20 percent of any enhancement. He said some clarifications may be needed before taking on a long-term commitment.

Coffland said he had spoken often with the prosecutor. Coffland added that he was confident that all necessary changes had been made. He called this the best lease currently on the table. During the meeting, the prosecutor was contacted to sign off on the lease.

Probst said the additional information received from the prosecutor gave him the impression that he had reservations about signing the lease with the current enhancement clause. Favede countered that the prosecutor had made the desired changes and the clause had been repeatedly reviewed. She advocated signing before a possible drop in price.

In other matters, commissioners answered questions regarding the planned construction of a new senior center in Flushing.

Favede noted that the county was continuing to organize the purchase from the property owner. A formal proposal has been submitted by the owner to the county. This may be completed within 10 days. Afterward, the county must look into issues such as surveying and maintenance.

Regarding the need to demolish some structures in the area, the county is exploring options for added funds. Additional funding must go through land banking.

A Barton resident also brought up issues of a dilapidated sidewalk and catch basin on County Road 10 and 14 and the need for a guardrail for additional safety.

Commissioners approved the vacation of a portion of two cul-de-sacs within Ohio Riverview Road/Pultney Township in Ohio Riverview Estates.

Commissioners authorized the clerk of the board to establish a date and time for the subdivision hearing regarding the replat of eight lots in Ohio Riverview Estates, Pultney Township, and proceed with notifications.

Favede was authorized to sign a contract with Edgco, Inc. for $8,480 for the demolition of property located at 1019 North Eighth St., Martins Ferry, as part of Fiscal Year 2012, Belmont County Community Development Block Grant Formula Allocation Program.

Commissioners motioned to approve and sign the contract between DJFS and Jefferson County Community Action Council, Inc. for administrative entity services for Workforce Investment Area 16 in the amount of $64,276.56, effective Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014. DJFS is the fiscal agent for WIA 16. The contract is paid for with WIA funding from Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties.

Commissioners motioned to approve and sign two amendments to the Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) plan, on behalf of DJFS for two one-time limited Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Special Projects vouchers to be used by Sept. 22. The purpose of the PRC program is to purchase clothing for children, needed household goods and other items. The motion will enable the purchase of clothes for children, baby needs, laptop computers and printers for Ohio Works First work required recipients.

As a result of an executive session, board motioned to approve the change in employment status of Martin Wetzel from temporary to permanent maintenance employee for Belmont County Buildings and Grounds Department at a rate of $9.23 per hour beginning Sept. 23. Commissioners also motioned to advertise for a full-time switchboard operator/mail clerk/receptionist for the Belmont County Commissioners’ Office.

Commissioners motioned as the co-appointing authority to grant the director of DJFS the authority to terminate employment of a senior services division employee.

Commissioners motioned to adopt the resolution regarding the transition of senior services from DJFS to the commissioners. The vote was two to one with Commissioner Matt Coffland dissenting.

DeFrank can be reached at