Monroe commissioners mull court security, roads and bridges

T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER/ Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick speaks to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners on Monday about the Knowlton historic covered bridge restoration project.

WOODSFIELD — Monroe County Common Pleas Judge Julie Selmon on Monday asked the board of commissioners to help pay for upgrades to her courtroom and gave a brief update about the status of courthouse security.

County Engineer Amy Zwick also addressed commissioners regarding several of the countyás roads and bridges.

Selmon said one of the county’s “elected officials” came in to do some work at the courthouse during the evening of Sept. 12 and propped the doorway to the north alley entrance open with a coffee can for about 90 minutes.

“This was brought to my attention, and I wanted to share it with you because I don’t think it’s my position to enforce (security),” Selmon said. “It concerns me that someone would do that. … That, to me, is egregious when you know everything that is going on and everyone’s trying to make these changes. I just don’t want it to keep going on.”

“This concerns us all,” Commissioner Mick Schumacher said.

Selmon added she would address the subject with Sheriff Charles Black.

“I would like to get the message to him by the end of the day today. Hopefully he can handle it,” Selmon said.

Selmon told the commissioners she is having her office renovated using funds from her own departmental budget, but she would like help from the commission to update the courtroom. She wants to replace courtroom carpet that is more than 40 years old, paint the walls and ceiling and get new light fixtures. She has not received a cost estimate on the project yet, but she plans to get an estimate from the company that is upgrading her office, Kelly’s Suite II of St. Clairsville.

“I think it would make a huge improvement,” Selmon said. “It could be done within the next month or two. … I just wanted to give you a heads-up. I don’t know what your position on it is, but it needs to be done.”

Commissioners told Selmon to proceed with getting an estimate on the project.

In other county news, Engineer Amy Zwick brought the commissioners several road use maintenance agreements from pipeline companies doing work in the area, including Rover Pipeline, Eureka Midstream, Strikeforce South and CNX. The agreements were all approved. Access right-of-way applications were approved with Granger Construction Co. for an additional driveway at the new county jail; with Hammontree & Associates for a design for a bridge rehab on Bethel Township Road 313; and with Dominion Energy for installation of a residential gas line on County Road 101.

Zwick said a bridge on County Road 29 near Cameron has been approved for federal funding to be rebuilt through the Ohio Department of Transportation, and that the county’s “Local Public Agency Share Amount” for the project will be $35,952.50. Commissioners signed all the paperwork to fund the project.

Zwick also spoke to commissioners about the Knowlton historic covered bridge project, in which the county has received a grant from ODOT for repair and restoration work. The bridge was originally built in 1887, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and is now open to pedestrian traffic only. Zwick said ODOT will pay $950,000 for the work, and the county must chip in $120,000.

The county has contracted for the bridge restoration project with The Woolpert Co., which will begin analyzing and preparing a design for the bridge according to the county’s specifications. Zwick told the commissioners the cost of the work would vary, depending on how much tonnage the bridge would be able to handle and if the bridge would be coded for primarily pedestrian traffic or vehicular traffic. Zwick said capacity of the bridge to accommodate vehicles weighing more than 5 tons likely would increase the cost of the project to $2 million and would completely alter the historic status of the bridge.

Commissioners decided the best plan would be to proceed with having Woolpert design and estimate for vehicular traffic weighing up to 5 tons, which would be much more in line with the county’s budget.