Issue 2 funds receive approval

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – During Wednesday’s meeting, Belmont County commissioners received word of Issue 2 projects that will receive funding.

The paving of Belmont County North 26 ranked top priority in 11 counties. Thanks went to the Township Association along with the engineer’s office and other entities for the cooperation in making the accomplishment possible.

The project will receive a grant of $398,973. Total project cost is $539,153.

Repair of two county bridges was also approved for a grant of $399,600, in a total project of $540,000.

Martins Ferry’s road repaving project came in at the cut-off line with a grant of $316,393 in a total project of $590,370. The city had taken out a loan of $150,000.

Richard Hord brought up an e-mail from Vince Gianangeli regarding the improvements to senior services while under the direction of the Department of Job and Family Services from August 2011 to August 2013. He noted the number of active clients receiving home-delivered meals increased 821 to 942. The number of home meals delivered increased from 15,765 to 17,760. The number of clients receiving transportation increased from 1,574 to 1,923. Clients receiving home care increased from 157 to 378. Also, $1,615,000 was added to the fund balance.

Commissioner Ginny Favede said some of the increases reflect an aging population becoming eligible for the services. Also, Tina Burkhart informed her there had been a dip in food services when DJFS initially took over and began contracting those services. When county employees began preparing food again, numbers increased. Favede said the fiscal officer gave the opinion that the increase in funds was due to annual income collected from the levies.

She added that all funding sources available through DJFS should continue to be available, along with grants to possibly bring in additional dollars for home repair for seniors.

Commissioner Matt Coffland said time will tell if services will continue in quality. He added that he believes the baseline for the meals was established before DJFS took over.

Commissioners also thanked the voters who passed the recent senior services levy.

Hord also asked about the process for accepting applications for a new DJFS director. He asked why the interview process was not completed internally as opposed to an outside attorney.

Coffland voiced his opposition to the decision, doubting the necessity of the attorney’s service. Favede said the position was offered to three people. Since the appointment of an interim director, one person was interviewed. She said the commissioners lacked time to conduct interviews effectively.

In other matters, Michael Bianconi voiced his support for the I-70/Mall Road project and encouraged the commissioners to return about $1 million removed from the fund for road repair projects back toward the county’s commitment of close to $2 million.

“It’s very important for our sales tax to go up,” he said, adding that entities such as the Cafaro Company and ODOT seem on board. “I really encourage you guys to support that project, to make it work.”

Bianconi added that he had been in favor of using sales tax money for road and bridge repair.

He also asked about a list of water and sewer projects using general fund dollars from the last several years.

Also, Betty Eddy and Sherri Temple of Hendrysburg inquired about ongoing efforts to acquire water for the village. The commissioners will inquire with the sanitary sewer director into the progress of any such project. Commissioner Charles R. Probst, Jr. noted the work must be affordable.

In other matters, commissioners adopted a resolution to vacate a portion of Kirkwood Township Road 585, or Brooks Run Road.

Commissioners also motioned to approve the allocation of $18,750 to the county Department of Development/ Community Improvement Corporation for program operations for the fourth quarter of 2013.

A 50-cent per hour pay increase effective Oct. 30 was approved for Kimberly Mills, accounts payable clerk for Belmont County Sanitary Sewer District, who successfully completed her probationary period.

Commissioners motioned to advertise for bids to remove and replace the HVAC system at the DJFS Martins Ferry building.

Commissioners motioned to enter into a renewal of the Online Dog Licensing System Agreement with Fairfield Computer Services, LLC on behalf of the auditor’s office for a two-year term with a monthly service fee of $150 to manage sales of dog licenses. Costs to be paid by the auditor’s office.

Commissioners entered into a 12-month agreement with First Communications for $636.24 per month for phone and Internet services for Senior Services of Belmont County. This changes the existing account from DJFS. Commissioners passed the motioned two-to-one with Coffland dissenting.

Commissioners amended the Nov. 16, 2011 motion to correct the term of the current members of the Transportation Improvement District from a five-year term to a two-year term effective Jan. 1, 2012-Dec. 31, 2013. Current members are Favede, Coffland, Dennis Bigler, Greg Bizzarri and Fred Bennett.

Commissioner Probst was authorized to represent the board at the upcoming meeting of the 911 Planning Committee to consider changes to the final plan.

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