Harrison officials discuss agreements

CADIZ – The debate over road-use and maintenance agreements continued at the Harrison County Commissioners’ meeting Wednesday, as Doug Crabtree of the county engineer’s office brought two new agreements before the board.

Commissioner Dale Norris questioned an agreement that specified sections of road for pipeline crossings on eight sections of county roads in four townships.

“We have had to adjust to their 16-hour-a-day work schedules and accept their lifestyle and they also need to learn how government works and work with us,” Norris said.

“I do not feel we should approve these piecemeal agreements for small sections of roadways,” Norris explained. “Obviously fuel prices are a concern for all of us and they are going to haul these loads by the most efficient and direct route, so why not just make the agreements for the entire section of roads.”

Sheriff Ronald J. Myers agreed the issue needs to be addressed.

“Anna Kuzmich from ODOT explained that we can not control all the small truck traffic with these (agreements) but we are constantly getting complaints about loads on roads where they are not supposed to be,” he said.

Crabtree said it was his belief that Carroll County had already gone to the policy of bonding whole roads on agreements, adding many of the drilling and pipeline companies were on deadlines and were requesting rapid approval.

“We have had some contractors who call in and want approval for load routes in three hours,” he said.

Myers suggested a mandatory nine-day waiting period for all agreements to allow the engineer’s office and commissioners to review them.

Assistant County Prosecutor Michael Washington stated there were no statutes limiting the amount of time the engineer or board had to respond to requests for agreements.

The board tabled that agreement pending further discussion while approving an agreement that Norris stated covered the entire length of county Road 17 between state Route 9 and the next county highway.

Crabtree also updated the board on the engineer’s office research into digitizing the gas and oil activity in the county.

“We had two wells in 2011 and 36 in 2012 – the paperwork is growing out of the filing cabinets,” he said.

Crabtree stated a fee of $240 per month to upload data along with scanned documents, maps, plans and even videos of the road could be accessed through an application for a smart phone.

“This would allow access to the data for the engineer’s office, sheriff to check on hauling permits, work locations or any other information in the files,” he said.

The engineer’s office also will solicit bids for the annual fuel, paving and bituminous materials. All bids are due by March 15, when they will be opened during the commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioners also heard from Andy Atkins of the county health board regarding Charles Fisher, administrator of the Harrison County Health Department. Fisher is hospitalized.

Atkins explained that in his absence a part-time sanitarian has covered the inspections, and Atkins asked the board to consider funding a second part-time certified inspector to help with the busy schedule.

In addition to well and septic tank permits, the influx of workers has created a necessity to inspect and monitor campgrounds.

Atkins told the board the fees for permits help fund the expense, which he estimated would cost $1,152 per month for 16 hours a week paying $18 per hour.

“It is important for us to keep an eye on the health of the community,” said Commission Chair Don Bethel. “We do not want people going renegade and doing whatever they want.”

Bethel stated he would be in favor of funding the salary of a watchdog with oil and gas funds and told Atkins the board would work to quickly find a source for funding and get back to the health department with a decision prior to the March meeting.

The Harrison County Treasurer’s Office has collected more than $132,000.00 in delinquent taxes between Jan. 28 and Monday. The increases in the collection of the delinquencies were initiated when Prosecutor Shawn Hervey’s office sent letters to individuals, businesses and organizations having delinquent taxes, some up to 10 years, according to Treasurer Vicki Sefsick.

“We have had numerous calls daily generated by the letters. My office has either collected the full amount due or initiated agreements where an initial payment was made with monthly payment arrangements. If the taxpayer breaks the agreement, the prosecutor’s office will move ahead with legal action,” Sefsick noted.

“Regular tax collection has been very positive this year,” Sefsick said. “All payments for the first half taxes of 2012 are due in my office by the close of business (today). Anyone needing more information may call (740) 942-8864 during regular business hours.”

The board also approved an agreement allowing the sheriff to spend $7,000 for a new policy manual. “Policies reflect state and federal laws and court opinions. They need updated periodically, which we have been doing, but we have not had a new one in quite a while, and it is time.” said Myers.

Commissioners also got an update from Mike McGlumphy, Workforce Investment Act director at the Jefferson County Community Action Council on windstorm grant cleanup operations.

McGlumphy told the board that as of Wednesday, 125 sites had been identified for clean up and he believes there is enough work load to support a one-year extension.

“We currently are working three crews of eight workers each in three areas. We started with the bigger jobs and have currently completed six of those,” he said.

He asked the board to approve a memorandum of understanding allowing the CAC to request an additional release of funds from the Ohio Department of Labor for vehicle leasing while they wait for grant money approval from the government.

Scott Blackburn announced following an executive session that the Harrison County Department of Job and Family Services will hire Angela Manteleone as a unit support worker II.

In other business, the board:

Approved $3,000 for an initial purchase of a wood display cases for memorial flags for servicemen and women as requested by the veterans office.

“These men and women are why we are here and able to have these freedoms,” said Bethel. “This case is a wonderful way to honor the heroes for the family.”