Moving Up

BELMONT COUNTY is growing. That point was reaffirmed at a recent county commissioners’ meeting.

The oil and gas industry is responsible for much of it. That trend should only escalate.

The need for local workers and housing has helped place the county in a much healthier financial state. Businesses of all types are reaping the benefits of the oil and gas industry.

The commissioners also noted that the Belmont County Jail is seeing a surge in prisoners. The jail is housing an average of 120 inmates per day. That is a huge jump from last year’s daily norm of 84.

Such numbers are paradoxical.

On one hand, such a spike in the jail population yields safety concerns. More prisoners means more criminal activity.

On the positive side, such an increase in inmates means more money flowing into county coffers. The expansion of the county lockup several years back was done with such a scenario in mind.

Housing inmates is a business. Housing out-of-county prisoners makes for even better business.

The increased activity at the jail has enabled commissioners to give Sheriff Dave Lucas the green light to hire four full-time control employees and two full-time civil staff. While no one is in favor of more crime, at least it is creating new jobs.

Commissioners also cited a need for additional workers for the sanitary sewer district. The commissioners are seeking a water treatment plant operator, a meter reader and a utility worker for the water distribution department; and a collection system operator for the sewer department.

Those four more new employment opportunities are a result of the oil-and gas boom. The Belmont County economy is not where we want it to be, but it is definitely pointed in the proper direction.