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Acrimony continues between city and county

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday fired back at Steubenville officials over comments made after the commissioners received a legal opinion about whether the county could provide assistance on a water line project at the Steubenville Marina.

Commissioners received that opinion last week, which prompted 6th Ward Councilman Robert Villamagna on Tuesday to say council runs the city, not the commissioners.

Commissioner Thomas Graham said Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn approached the commissioners asking if the county could provide any assistance in installing the water line. Commissioners at their Aug. 15 meeting announced they would seek an opinion from the prosecutor’s office about the legality of the county water and sewer department doing the work inside the city.

The county water and sewer department routinely installs lines in its system, and has the equipment needed to fuse together sections of water line. The project could be completed at a lower cost if the county did the work.

The opinion from Assistant Prosecutor Michael Calabria said the county would be permitted to do the work if the city pays the costs incurred by the county water and sewer department.

Graham pointed out the commissioners only agreed to get the opinion, not the work.

“County commissioners do not run the city,” Villamagna said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Graham responded by saying the commissioners would do a better job at running the city.

Commissioner David Maple said he was disappointed with the comments made at the council meeting. He said the commissioners try to help any city, township or village that asks for assistance. He said he would be a terrible elected official if he didn’t look into saving a community money. Maple said it now appears the city doesn’t want to move forward with the water line project at the marina.

“We’ll wait for formal action by council. That is a weird way to ask for help,” Maple said.

The root of Villamagna’s comments were that Hahn didn’t first come to council about asking the county for help.

Commissioner Tom Gentile said some council members think the commissioners are pushing the agenda on the project. He said the commissioners did the proper first step in getting a legal opinion.

“It is clear we are not going to do anything formal until formal action from the city,” he said. “I’m not sure how we got to this point. I don’t want to be in the middle of Steubenville’s business unless they ask.”

Commissioners discussed work on the roof of the Justice Center. About two-thirds of the roof is in need of replacement and the other section should be replaced.

Tommy Worlledge of McKinley & Associates of Wheeling said it would cost about $300,000 to replace two-thirds of the roof or about $500,000 for the entire roof. He said the roof was replaced once since the building opened in 1997, adding that job was of poor quality.

Gentile wants the project bid in a way that contractors could select from two options, saying the contractors know the best installation.

Worlledge said the project will be ready to bid in a couple of months, with work starting in the spring.

Commissioners also:

∫ Opened five bids on behalf of the county engineer’s office for repair of two slips on county Road 53. The engineer’s estimate was $300,804. Ohio-West Virginia Excavating of Powhatan Point had the apparent low bid of $266,233.

∫ Received the animal shelter report for August, showing 101 dogs were brought into the shelter, with 65 dogs adopted, 11 reclaimed and 21 sent to foster care. There were two dogs euthanized for aggression.

∫ Approved the attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants for September in the amount of $50,227.

∫ Approved a contract between the county job and family services department and juvenile court to pay for services by the juvenile court magistrate in child-support and custody cases. The contract is for $419,396, with the federal government paying for two-thirds of the cost.

∫ Agreed to endorse the 1-mill renewal levy for the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School.

∫ Agreed to advertise for a public road creation in the Lake Park Subdivision, which would be an extension of Island Creek Township Road 412.

∫ Heard concerns from Delbert and Anne Besece of County Road 5, Adena, about the condition of a building at 186 Smithfield St., Dillonvale. The couple said they own an apartment building adjacent to the dilapidated building, and are concerned about its condition. Maple said he would take the matter to the county land bank. The owner of the dilapidated building, which is used for storage, could donate the building to the land bank, and the land bank could tear it down, Maple said.

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