Commissioners discuss the Workforce Investment Act

STEUBENVILLE – Questions concerning funds for Ohio’s Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response Program were discussed during Thursday’s Jefferson County commissioners’ meeting.

In a letter to commissioners, Elizabeth Ferron, director of Jefferson County Job and Family Services, asked permission from commissioners to approve a revision of funds in the amount of $38,000 additional dollars for the rapid response portion of the program, which is administered by the county jobs and family services along with the Jefferson County Community Action Council. The state pilot program is to assist dislocated workers by helping provide them with skills and employment in the oil and gas drilling industries.

Ferron wasn’t at the meeting. However, Mike McGlumphy, director of the Jefferson County Ohio Means Jobs, a division of the county CAC, told commissioners the $38,000 already had been spent for work force training for individuals in the program residing in Jefferson, Harrison and Carroll counties. McGlumphy told commissioners program directors had to move quickly and didn’t have enough time to obtain commissioners’ approval to accept the funds.

“This is close-out funding,” said McGlumphy, adding the program had assisted eight individuals in Jefferson County. “We couldn’t draw down the funds until July. We’ve had a 100 percent completion rate. That’s the intent of (the pilot program).”

Commissioners Thomas Graham and Dave Maple both expressed reservations about requesting commissioners to accept additional funds after they already had been spent.

“That’s great this program is helping a lot of people,” said Graham, who also questioned McGlumphy if the program and agencies involved had the state’s permission to spend the funds before being presented to commissioners.

“This isn’t how we usually do things,” said Maple.

“This is highly unusual,” echoed Graham.

McGlumphy said he was aware of commissioners’ concerns, and the agencies involved had obtained the state’s permission to spend the funds without the county commissioners’ approval. He added the state Legislature already had allocated another $750,000 for the state program to continue into the 2014-15 fiscal year, which began July 1.

“We’ve already transferred all (individuals assisted) to the new grant,” McGlumphy continued.

He also told commissioners a separate, county youth summer works program is proceeding smoothly.

“(We began) with 147 kids in the summer youth (employment) program,” said McGlumphy, adding the program is “the best program to date. We’ve only lost 10 kids.”

Commissioner Tom Gentile commended Graham for his initiative in having youth enrolled in the program clean up Glenn Robbins Park.

Commissioners approved the request to accept the funds unanimously.

In other matters:

– Mike Welday, 57 Gregg Ave., Bloomingdale, approached commissioners with concerns about grass planted by contractors during the final stage of the Crestview/Belvedere sewer project. Welday said the grass planted by contractors is invasive and taking over his lawn.

“The gentleman taking care of my lawn has no idea what kind of (grass) this is,” he said. “I’d like to see it taken out so there’s no seed left.”

Welday produced photos and grass samples for commissioners to examine. Gentile said the grass in question was a fescue. Gentile also said he was surprised a fescue would be planted instead of a normal residential grass, and perhaps there’d been an oversight.

Graham asked Welday if he’d obtained an estimate on how much it would cost to replace the lawn, and Welday responded he hadn’t. Graham said he would prefer estimates be obtained before any action taken. Gentile said he would come to Welday’s house to examine the situation.

– Commissioners tabled a request to pay $234,715 to Tucson Inc. as part of the county’s industrial park road extension project until they could determine where the funds would come from. Commissioners also indicated more than half the amount would be reimbursed by grants.

– Commissioners also approved a contract for D&L Unlimited to replace a bridge on county Road 7 in Mount Pleasant for $88,909; and a $52,762 contract for Williams Excavating and Trucking to repair a slip on county Road 18.

– Commissioners approved a proclamation of congratulations to Girl Scout Moriah Vosteen for earning a Gold Scout Award for implementing and developing five stations for the cross country course at the Catholic Central High School athletic park. There will be a ceremony honoring her achievement scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the course.

– Commissioners approved Patty Allen, 1117 Federal St., Toronto, as a board member for the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board through June 30, 2018. Allen will replace Rose Braniff-Hall, who served an eight-year term as board member.

– The first commissioners’ meeting in August has been changed to 9 a.m. Aug. 6.