Commissioners handle questions

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Commissioners heard from several guests who put forward requests for information about the state of the county and county services and departments.

Michael Bianconni inquired about a report covering Senior Services of Belmont County and a comparison of meals, transportation work and costs in comparison with the prior work under the umbrella of DJFS. Commissioner Matt Coffland said a report could be arranged in the next few weeks.

In answer to a question from Patti Giangeli, the commissioners hope to have a new DJFS director announced this first quarter.

Frank Papini also asked if something could be done about the state of streetlights in Pease Township. He noted the increased traffic, the number of elderly people on the road, and the many darkened streetlights. Coffland said this was a township issued that the commissioners could not directly address by specification of the state code.

“We are a creature of the state,” said Commissioner Mark Thomas, noting that these problems are widespread. “This is a county-wide issue.”

He also noted cuts to local government funds have made an impact.

“When the funds from the state are cut, these are across the board cuts,” he said.

“I have grave concerns about this cut to local government funds,” said Commissioner Ginny Favede. “It’s a fight that needs to continue to be fought.”

She added that statutes allow the commissioners to keep up to 30 percent of local government funds from the state, but Belmont is one of two of Ohio’s 88 counties that give more to the local municipalities and townships, keeping 16 percent at the county level.

“Local government means a lot to us here,” she said, adding that the commissioners and lawmakers continue to press the state for change and bring their safety concerns to Columbus. She noted the governor’s $2 billion rainy day fund. “I do not agree in putting on more levies. I do not agree that the taxpayers should have to pay more money. The money didn’t go away. The money is being retained at the state level.”

Credit also went to the county auditor and his predecessor for their work with the townships in finding funds.

Richard Hord inquired about the progress in establishing a land bank. The commissioners have met with the port authority. It will be necessary to select a board. A land bank is necessary to access funds for the demolition of vacant homes.

Commissioners granted a road improvement vacation of alleys in Boston, located in Somerset Township.

Commissioners also approved the signing and submittal of the Equitable Sharing Agreement and Certification for fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013 for the sheriff’s office to ensure the department is in compliance and to receive funds from the Department of Justice available through federally forfeited cash, property and proceeds.

Commissioners will advise the Ohio Department of Liquor Control that a hearing is not requested for GK Petroleum’s request for a liquor permit. The St. Clairsville business will be permitted to sell beer only in sealed containers for carryout until 1 a.m., and wine and certain prepackaged mixed drinks in sealed containers for carryout until 1 a.m.

Coffland was authorized to execute subgrant award agreements for the sheriff’s personal crimes investigator. These include a grant of OCJS funds of $41,473.56 with an in-kind match of $13,824.52, and AR/VAWA funds of $3,435.75 with a cash match of $1,145.25.

Commissioners approved a request of Ohio Gathering Company LLC to reduce the amount of bond for Road Use Maintenance Agreement dated Dec. 27, 2012. Reduction would be from $5 million to $1 million, for pipeline construction in Kirkwood, Warren, Goshen and Union Townships. Ohio Gatherings has completed most of its work and has rebuilt all roads to the satisfaction of the county engineer.

Commissioners motioned to approve the signing and submittal of the County Commissioner Certification for the 2014 State Emergency Response Commission grant application on behalf of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Commissioners approved the bond and oath of office for Treasurer Katherine Kelich for the term Sept. 2, 2013-Sept. 3, 2017.

Commissioners appointed Timothy Erwine and Joseph Cowan to part-time positions as delivery workers/drivers for Senior Services of Belmont County effective Jan. 21 at the rate of $9 per hour. Russell Coss was appointed to the intermittent position as driver and Joseph Uhrich and Carla Long to the intermittent position of driver/cook, effective Jan. 21, at the rate of $9 per hour.

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