Commissioners back to normal meetings

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — After a year’s wait, the Belmont County Board of Commissioners is holding normal meetings with many unmasked participants and without a 10-person capacity limitafter the state lifted the COVID-19 health restrictions.

“We’ve dropped the capacity restrictions and don’t have the camera (and livestream) on the way we used to,” Commission President Jerry Echemann said. “If you’re vaccinated, then no need for a mask. If you’re not, I guess it would be a good idea to wear one, but we’re not going to go around and ask everybody.”

There were several pieces of good news during a recent meeting. The commissioners noted a hazard pay grant of $10,500 will be awarded to the 911 dispatch center. This follows a recent bonus of $1,000 each to 911 employees.

“This is a similar situation. This bonus will be closer to $500 per person. These are federal monies that were provided through D.C. and so not at a cost to the county, and we are happy to pass that along to them,” Echemann said.

The dispatchers handled an uptick of calls during the height of the pandemic.

In other matters, the commissioners approved the yearly contract between the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services and the Belmont County Community Action Commission, effective May 1 through Sept. 30, for $55,769 for wages and administration costs for a summer employment program for youths age 14-18 from Belmont County Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-eligible families.

“The real nice thing about this particular program is you can be 14 years old and get hired and start making money,” Echemann said. “The pay is up to a maximum of about $10 per hour.”

Mike Schlanz, administrator at Ohio Means Jobs in Martins Ferry, said the program is popular.

“The program has already started. … “ he said. “We don’t know if we have any more openings, but people can always apply. They have to be income eligible.”

Schlanz said he hopes for about 50 workers. He does not expect the coronavirus pandemic to impact it this year.

“Kids are placed at villages or townships or cities and some private employers, just various places throughout the county,” he said. “We also have a year-round youth program. We can help them with paid work experience.”

He said youths and young adults ages 14-24 are eligible for this program. For more information or to apply, call his office at 740-633-5627.

In addition, repairs to the courthouse clock tower have been completed, despite some delays in transportation due to the pandemic. Chime Master Systems was approved for repairs and upgrades for $8,500.

The clock had been out of commission for about two months.


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