Jefferson Co. projects hit funding uncertainty

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners Thursday agreed to get opinions from the county prosecutor’s office concerning ongoing funding for the 211 phone referral system and a bid for the paving of the runway extension at the county airport.

Gary Folden, county regional airport authority secretary, told the commissioners Shelly and Sands of Rayland agreed to hold its price of $966,780 from last year for the paving of the 600-foot extension of the runway, the turnarounds at the ends of the runway and an asphalt overlay of the existing 4,400 feet of runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration told the airport authority the runway has to be widened to 75 feet wide when the runway is extended to 5,000 feet. Bids for paving had a smaller width but the amount of asphalt was nearly the same because the extension of the taxiway was eliminated to bring the project within budget.

County Commissioner David Maple questioned whether the scope of the project changed with the FAA requirement. Shelly and Sands was the only bidder for the paving work when the project was bid in the fall. County Commissioner Thomas Graham questioned whether another paving contractor would have bid since the project was changed. County Commissioner Tom Gentile said 90 percent of the project is the same. He said the remaining asphalt will be placed in another area of the project.

The paving contract was rescinded in January and the airport authority asked that it be bid again.

The airport authority asked the commissioners to cancel the advertisement for the paving bids.

Beth Rupert-Warren, United Way of Jefferson County executive director, and Ross Gallabrese, United Way past president, had asked the commissioners for $5,000 for operational money for the 211 phone referral system operated by the United Way.

Residents can call 211 at any time for referrals to nonprofit social service agencies for help on such matters as getting food, shelter, clothing, rent/utility assistance, foreclosure help and job assistance.

The call will be answered by a trained specialist who will connect the caller with the appropriate agency. The calls will be answered by the United Way of Greater Stark County.

Maple said state law may not allow county taxpayer money to be given to a nonprofit organization.

Rupert-Warren said other counties around Ohio provide funding.

Maple noted the United Way should push for the state Legislature to allow such funding by counties.

Gallabrese said the 211 phone referral system is available to all county residents to get help. He said it is easy for residents to get access to services with one call, adding it actually relieves other emergency contacts, such as 911, of having to answer such calls seeking help with utility bills and other services.

Rupert-Warren said she is coordinating with the county’s Emergency Management Agency in providing help through 211 in the event of an emergency.

In other matters, commissioners asked the county water and sewer department to prepare a plan for extending the Bradley water line project in a second phase to include about nine homes on county Road 20.

The water and sewer department said including the nine homes would cost an additional $560,000 and jeopardize state funding already lined up for the Bradley water line extension.

Gentile said extending the line on county Road 20 to county Road 8 and into Dillonvale would create a loop of the system and add about 77 more customers.

Commissioners also:

Were informed the first public hearing for the county’s Community Development Block Grant program will be held at 10 a.m. on March 27.

Agreed to hire Patricia Allen of 1117 Federal St., Toronto, as the administrator for the children services division of the county job and family services department.

Were informed by county Engineer James Branagan the Ohio Department of Transportation is reviewing plans for the replacement of a bridge on county Road 39. The bridge is down to one lane and may be closed as an emergency because of structural concerns. Branagan said, as a result, the county is pushing to get the project out to bid in the spring.

Were informed by Branagan the engineer’s department will purchase about $378,000 in equipment this year. The purchasing will include two dump trucks, with plows and salt hoppers, one pickup truck, a self-propelled street broom and four snow plows. Branagan said the department will seek pricing through the state cooperative purchasing program and local vendors.

Accepted the resignation of Shannan Gosbin as county water and sewer department director effective Feb. 21.

Announced county employees will no longer receive parking reimbursement at downtown lots effective April 1. Maple said the county purchased lots as part of the Towers purchase. Graham said the county spends about $30,000 a year reimbursing parking expenses for county workers. Gentile said workers still can pay for parking on their own at any lot they desire. Graham said the money saved in parking reimbursements will be used to improve county-owned lots.

Agreed to hire McKinley & Associates, a Wheeling architectural firm, to prepare specifications for replacement of the mezzanine roof at the Towers. One bid was received but the amount not announced to give other contractors a chance to bid. Gentile said the commissioners knew the mezzanine and main roofs would have to be replaced at the time the Towers was purchased by the county. He said the specifications for the mezzanine roof will allow the commissioners to fairly compare the bids.

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