Commissioners update public on casino funding, senior building

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners addressed funding questions and ongoing projects during its weekly meeting.

Richard Hord of Martins Ferry inquired about casino revenue allocated to the county and if a portion of those funds could be used toward repairs to local community facilities, such as the Martins Ferry City Building. Commissioner Mark Thomas said this could not be done, according to state law.

“The language in the Constitution says that 51 percent of the casino funds go to Ohio’s counties,” he said, adding that this includes funding designated for Ohio’s eight largest cities. “The balance goes to the state. What the language does not allow is for the counties to give it any other entity. It is simply not allowed by law. … We couldn’t do it even if we wanted to.”

In answer to another question from Hord, Thomas noted that the commissioners are advertising for interested parties to fill a seat on the Belmont County Tourism Board. Former Commissioner Ginny Favede had been nominated to the seat when previous board member Floyd Simpson died. Favede will serve on the board through March 31.

The commissioners also touched on the progress of the new Senior Services Department building.

“The Senior Services Building project continues to move on track. They are continually wrapping up things,” Thomas said, noting that the workers are in the process of cleaning dust and debris left over from construction. He noted that while the board had entertained the possibility of moving the staff into the building last fall, the new center will be fully operational soon. “At this point we are on a track to be in sometime early this spring.”

The board approved the payment of invoices to GreenCore Designs Inc. for $5,819.35, including $5,125.50 for construction administration and $693.89 for reimbursables. The board also approved the execution of a pay request from VendRick Construction Inc. for $81,623.05 for the senior center project.

In related matters, the board approved an estimate from Erb Electric Co. for $2,296 to install a wireless bridge that will allow the Oakview Administration Building/Records Center and new Senior Services facility to share telephone and internet services.

“Those two entities are currently in Oakview and share telephone and internet services, so when Senior Services moves out of the Oakview building and goes to the new building that just leaves the records center in Oakview. To save money we’re tying in,” Thomas said.

The commissioners also approved two annual contract renewals between the Belmont County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the common pleas magistrate and prosecutor, respectively. The contract with the magistrate will cover admission of the support enforcement program, effective Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017, in the maximum amount of $30,166.98. The contract with the prosecutor’s office will cover legal services, effective Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017, in the maximum amount of $69,079. Both are 66 percent federally funded with a local match of 34 percent.

The security cameras on the first floor of the courthouse will also be upgraded to an internet protocol system for a total of cost of $9,307. The work will be done by 1st Sight Technology LLC.

The commissioners also approved the purchase of two vehicles using the State Purchasing Plan, permitting the county to purchase at the lowest rates possible. The board approved a quote from Whiteside of St. Clairsville for $24,253.75 for a 2017 GMC Sierra pickup truck for the county coroner’s office and a quote from Doan Ford-Lincoln for $22,148.50 for the purchase of a 2017 Ford Transit Connect compact cargo van for the county animal shelter.