Commissioners may reorganize meetings

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Belmont County Commissioners will consider reorganizing the arrangement of public comments and questions during their meetings in the interest of smoother operations.

Commissioner Matt Coffland agreed that the board often seemed to be addressing the same issues. He added that the meetings are for the purpose of conducting business. In addition, the commissioners are accessible and available for contact outside the meetings.

Visitor Richard Hord noted that Martins Ferry City Council has a strict five-minute time limit for guest comments.

Commissioner Mark Thomas noted that some other counties do not allow public comments at all. He said that while public commentary is vital, better procedure must be established.

“There are people coming in here for private attacks, political attacks, and bring up issues that will get to the media,” he said. “A lot of the questions asked here don’t even relate to us.”

John Morgan, spoke in opposition to the proposed EnerGreen Lease Agreement for the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park. He said that although commissioners and Port Authority officials have said the lease will not likely take place, there is no assurance and a vote the prior week to kill the deal failed.

He added concerns that ODNR currently has no regulatory power over the facilities since the rules for them have not been written. He asked whether the Port Authority has consulted an environmental legal specialist about the lease and requested such a review be done. He said that EnerGreen would lease but not own the land.

Port Authority Director Larry Merry countered that the decision will be made at the end of July. He noted the importance of holding to their original decision to allow EnerGreen time to present a case before voting down the deal.

Coffland said the commissioners have no control over the matter until the Port Authority vote.

Hord also asked about the Oakview building. In a prior meeting he was told senior services would be moved from the building and it would not be torn down. An earlier meeting suggested it might be torn down.

Thomas noted that many of the county buildings require maintenance.

Commissioner Ginny Favede said the commissioners must also address the period of time the county is required to hold certain records before disposal. The Oakview building is currently being used for record storage as well. Thomas said discussions about a new building for the courts is also ongoing.

John Henthorne inquired about the funding process of the county engineer and the commissioners’ role. Coffland said the commissioners were primarily a means of passing along funds but did not exercise control. Regarding allocating additional funding for road paving, Thomas said issues of paying county debt and upgrading infrastructure are vital. Hawthorne said that the engineer’s operating capital has been reduced by the better economy of cars.

Michael Bianconi urged commissioners to place incoming oil and gas funds toward the debt and sales tax and casino tax toward road repair.

Pat Goletz of Barton brought up the issue of creek drainage.

Coffland was authorized to sign a quote from Digital Data Communications for $1,080.41 excluding shipping for a Lenovo Desktop computer for the Oakview Administration Building/ Records Center.

Commissioners motioned to approve and sign the purchase authorization for SimplexGrinnell to renew the Quarterly Wet Sprinkler Test and Inspection and Annual Backflow Test agreement for the county jail for $1,171.40, effective July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015.

Commissioners approved and signed a proposal from NF Mansuetto & Sons, Inc. for $21,720 for the installment of a new shingle roof and seamless gutters and downspouts on the original Belmont County Emergency Management Building.

Commissioners motioned to approve and sign the agreement between the county DJFS and the Community Action Commission effective June 15-Sept. 30, 2014 in an amount not to exceed $150,000 for the Food Assistance Employment & Training-Share Services. This program will assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in gaining employment skills and work experience. Funding is $75,000 Federal funds and $75,000 State funds.

Commissioners entered into agreement with Street Engineering & Surveying in an amount not to exceed $17,000 for the construction inspection, administration and testing for the guardrail replacement project identified as BEL VAR GR Phase 3. The project is funded 100-percent by the Federal Highway Administrator.

Commissioners approved and signed the subordination of mortgage agreement for $44,300 regarding property owned by Daniel T. Sako.

Commissioners approved a request from the Belmont County Tourism Council to forward an additional $50,000 from the lodging tax receipts for July to cover expenses for the Morristown Historic Preservation’s Black Horse Inn building repairs. This is in addition to their monthly allotment for operating expenses.

Commissioners will advertise for four new vehicles. These are three SUVs and one sedan for the county DJFS.

Board approved the hiring of Neil Leiffer as a full-time maintenance employee for the Belmont County Buildings & Grounds Department at a rate of $9.42 per hour beginning July 7. This is to fill a vacancy due to a resignation.

DeFrank can be reached at