Shelter to follow manual

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County Humane Society will prepare a policy and procedure manual for the county’s animal shelter in response to complaints lodged about dogs being euthanized too quickly and alleged abuse.

The Jefferson County commissioners made the announcement Thursday after a closed-door meeting with Sally Wehr, county human society president.

Commissioners also met in executive session with Ed Bell, the county’s dog warden.

Wehr said the policy and procedure manual will be a working document that will be expanded with time.

“This will help alleviate any type of public concern,” she said.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said a county humane office and Bell will have to sign an approval before any dog is euthanized.

Commissioners have said the number of dogs being put down has decreased since the animal shelter opened two years ago. But a recent Facebook posting alleged that dogs were being euthanized too quickly.

County Commissioner David Maple said the commissioners will continue an investigation into allegations at the shelter.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the goal of the shelter is put down as few dogs as possible while getting as many adopted as possible. Gentile said the county wouldn’t have the $1.5 million animal shelter without the hard work of the humane society.

The humane society cares for cats at the shelter, brings in spay and neuter clinics and holds adoptions for dogs and cats.

Commissioners also received the annual report of the county engineer’s department.

County Engineer James Branagan said, “The dry, hot summer allowed our crews to complete scheduled work early providing extra time to perform more routine work such as ditching and asphalt patching. Highlights for the year include the 41.47 miles of chip-seal, installation of 1,382 high-reflectivity signs and an estimated $3.3 million of (road) repairs by the gas, oil and coal mining companies.”

Branagan since he became engineer he has had a long-term plan of improving roads. He said he has driven every mile of county roads and noticed a lack of potholes, which was the biggest complaint when he started. He said road reconstruction, chip-seal work and paving, in addition to road drainage and cutting back trees to eliminate shade on roads, has led to a longer life for pavement.

Kara Bernhart, an engineer at the department, said there were six major bridge projects completed last year.

Graham said an “amazing amount of money” was spent on the county’s highway system last year.

Maple said the engineer’s department sets goals and a strategy to achieve those goals.

Gentile said the department has the foresight to set long-term goals, but the public mostly is concerned about short-term results.

“It is noticeable driving around Jefferson County there are fewer potholes,” Gentile said.

Commissioners heard a proposal from Jefferson County Senior Services about establishing a countywide senior center. Amy Mihalyo of the group wants $280,000 of the $1 million generated from the county’s senior levy to help operate the senior center.

She said the group is in negotiations to purchase the Temple Beth Israel building on Lovers Lane for the center. She said Tri-State Health Services, which operates Prime Time, also is negotiations for the building.

Commissioners said Prime Time currently receives all the levy money to provide meals and transportation services for senior citizens. They said cutting the amount of money would result in some senior citizens not getting meals or transportation service.

Mihalyo said there are senior citizens paying for the levy who don’t utilize the services of Prime Time. She used to be the director of Prime Time and was influential in getting the levy approved and renewed.

Graham suggested the Jefferson County Senior Services put a levy on the ballot for the senior center. Gentile said county residents approved the senior levy to help those in need. He said there should be a separate levy.

Maple said a letter will be sent to Prime Time asking how it would handle services if $280,000 is cut from its levy funds.

Commissioners also:

Approved $115,000 in 12 house demolitions in Steubenville, Toronto, Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Smithfield. Domenick Mucci, county regional planning commission, said the money for the demolitions comes through a mortgage settlement from the Ohio Attorney General.

Agreed to advertise for mowing services for the county engineer’s department. The estimate is $35,000.

Approved a road use maintenance agreement between the county engineer’s department and Oxford Mining Co. for a portion of county Road 18. Branagan said it is the first road use maintenance agreement with a coal company. A portion of the road will have to be improved before hauling operations begin, he said.

Were informed by Probate Judge Sam Kerr of the appointment of Tom Perrin and the reappointment of Roger Hilty to the Friendship Park Board.

Were informed by the county regional airport authority of the resignation of Dennis VanFossen and approved the replacement appointment of Geno L. Morelli of Wintersville.