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Village will pay to power station

BARNESVILLE — A new policy will make the village responsible for paying for electricity used to power a sewage lift station at the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park on Ohio 800 that is part of the Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD 1.

Port Authority Executive Director Larry Merry and T.J. Jefferis of Jefferis Real Estate discussed the matter with village officials at last week’s council meeting. Barnesville Community Development Director Bill Knox said he felt that it was the right thing to do, since the village is benefiting from the development of the park and the investments made by the many parties involved.

Knox pointed out that income tax collections from the JEDDs exceeded $80,000 and that the village also made money collecting for water and sewer services. He concluded, “To me it’s a logical thing to say, ‘We got that.'”

Merry reminded council that Jefferis Real Estate had paid for the sewage infrastructure to the location, including the $75,000 lift station that was over and above what was needed for now, but was put in place anticipating further development.

Council President Brad Hudson said, “I don’t have a problem with doing it if it’s going to be in the JEDD, but I think we need to set another policy. It’s not just as easy as saying ‘OK.'”

The existing policy, as Mayor Dale Bunting explained, stated that the village only pays for the operation of a lift station if it is utilized by more than one customer. In the end, council voted to change the policy so that the village will pay for the electricity used by the lift station without that restriction.

Meanwhile, Village Administrator Roger Deal informed council that he had received approval for a water valve exercise program he had submitted to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in response to a violation and that he was working with the Operator Training Committee of Ohio and Ohio River Water Association to look into doing GIS mapping while crews are going around and exercising the valves.

He said the process could be costly since many of the valves had not been turned for years and that there would be breakage and repairs needed. He added that he was looking into purchasing a truck-mounted machine that would perform the task more efficiently and with less breakage than if done by hand.

Clay Bethel of Bethel Insurance was at the meeting to review the village’s insurance coverage with Westfield Insurance. Council voted to renew with the firm for 2020 at a cost of $73,002, which is $1,100 less than the previous year despite an increase in coverage.

Resident Jill Hunkler addressed council citing a news story that said Gulfport operates 16 well pads in the area that had been found in violation of the Clean Air Act since 2016 and that the EPA is not requiring the company to fix the problems. Hunkler also said that she had spoken with Ohio Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, last week about an incident in September in which several Barnesville residents reported smelling “strong hydrocarbon odors.” Hunkler said Hoagland was shocked by the alleged misinformation given by the Ohio EPA at that time concerning the ability of local authorities such as the Barnesville Fire Department and Belmont County Emergency Management Authority to test for hazardous gases.

Council also approved paying bills in the amount of $40,847.77 and approved a building permit for Lizabeth Smith to construct a new garage at 330 W. Church St.

Barnesville’s next regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Municipal Building.

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