Infrastructure, building projects progress

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK Jim Morrison of York Township speaks about infrastructure issues Wednesday to Belmont County Commissioners Josh Meyer, left, and J.P. Dutton. Upgrades to the wastewater system and a new location for the county courts were on the agenda.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County commissioners took another step Wednesday in renovating water and sewer service in the county as part of a project funded with a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan package.

They are seeking bids for Fox Shannon Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements, a wastewater transmission system upgrade, improvements to the Summerhill pump station and the Ohio Valley Mall sewage lift station replacement.

“We’re finally, finally advertising to go out for bid,” Commissioner J.P. Dutton said, adding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has further delayed the process. “It’s been a long time coming, but we’re excited to see this process started. … We’ll be very excited to receive those bids and actually see groundbreaking on those projects. These are crucial projects.”

Dutton said they expect to make a similar motion for water renovations soon.

“That will also be very exciting to see. There’s going to be a lot of dirt being moved and work being done in 2021 as it pertains to water and sewer.”

The commissioners also gave an update on the status of renovations at a building on U.S. 40 that previously belonged to The Health Plan and is now being renovated to house the Northern, Eastern and Western Division county courts and the prosecutor’s office.

“Things have been slowed down a little by some of the manufacturing processes due to the COVID crisis, but things are moving along with the work that they can do,” Commissioner Josh Meyer said. “It’s been amazing to see the transformation that’s taking place in that building, to be completely gutted out to where we have it now.”

The original opening date had been set for December. Meyer added the commissioners hope for a final finishing date early in 2021.

In 2017 the county purchased that land and two buildings along U.S. 40. The lower one currently houses the board of elections and title office, now saving the county from renting buildings for those offices. Preparations on the other building intended to house the courts is more involved and time-consuming. Commissioner Jerry Echemann gave one example, saying it was necessary to install bulletproof glass for security reasons and the number of companies able to provide the service is limited.

Commissioners said the centralized location should be a benefit, and the new building a great improvement for Western Division Court and the prosecutor’s office. The Northern and Eastern court building in Bellaire will house the county veterans service commission once the courts vacate it.

The entire cost of purchasing and renovating both buildings is about $11 million. Meyer said renovations on the board of elections and title office building came to about $1.6 million, with $6 for renovations to the court building.

Dutton said three years after announcing the plan and purchasing the property, the project is between 25 and 30 percent paid off.

The commissioners also acknowledged Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Dutton noted that in 2019 the Tri-County Help Center provided 25 victims and their children with 1,052 nights of emergency safe shelter, provided legal advocacy for 111 people, counseling for 642 people and handled 344 crisis hotline calls.

“They do amazing work for Belmont County,” Dutton said.


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