Harrison commissioners table road agreements

CADIZ – At the recommendation of Commissioner Dale Norris, the Harrison County commissioners Wednesday tabled two road-use and maintenance agreements brought by Doug Crabtree of the engineer’s office.

“The roadway-use and maintenance agreement is intended to protect roads and bridges from truck traffic generated by the oil and gas industry and in both cases the roads have been recently paved or chipped and sealed,” said Norris. “I feel that the truck traffic will use the most direct route and that means we need to cover the entire length of the roads – that has been established as our policy and we need to table the agreements until they are amended.”

All three road-use agreements were with Chesapeake Exploration, and an agreement was approved covering 1.1 miles of county Road 51, which would access the Ciacci well site in German Township.

“We are very fortunate to have Dale on the board at this time,” said fellow Commissioner Bill Host, noting Norris was director of the Harrison County Highway Department before seeking the commissioner[s seat.

“His knowledge of the county highways at this time is very helpful in making decisions on gas and oil requests.”

Todd Shelton, former director of the Athens County Economic Development Council, Office of U.S Sen. Rob Portman Southeast Ohio district representative, appeared before the board to ask questions about the county’s progress in the shale play.

“I just wanted to stop in and ask commissioners how things are going, especially in relation to the shale boom,” Shelton said.

“We would like to ask the senator to help us find ways to get some of the money back into the county from the drilling boom,” said Commission Chair Don Bethel. “We do not want to be greedy but we do want to be treated fairly.”

Bethel explained coal was a boom for the county, but when that industry dried up the county fell over a fiscal cliff.

“This is our second chance. Times were pretty rough around here and we feel that we should find a way to enact a fee which ensures that our grandchildren will inherit a county that is not broke.” Bethel added. “I feel the earlier the better, so businesses have the opportunity to plan for the fees.”

Shelton said the state is considering legislation similar to Pennsylvania law which establishes a fund, such as a state-level tax, with a set percentage of the revenues redistributed directly to local governments being affected by Marcellus development.

Chris Jacobs, district executive director for the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison Solid Waste District, announced the Harrison County appliance, scrap metal, tire and electronics recycling collection will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on April 20 at the Harrison County Highway Garage off state Route 9 north of Cadiz.

Jacobs introduced his new administrative assistant Teresa Martini, announcing he would be leaving his post of 20 years to take a job with the railroad.

Angie Peters was introduced by Scott Blackburn of the county Department of Job and Family Services to the board. Peters is the manager for the new Business Resource Network located in Steubenville. Along with administrative assistant Carrie Fodor, the pair explained that the BRN is a four-county business network that will mirror similar operations in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Serving Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties, “The BRN was originally created in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties to improve services provided to regional businesses. It uses a teamwork approach to working with and using a structured interview through software. The interview identifies needs of a business that are reviewed by the BRN partners who provide options for meeting a business’ needs,” explained Peters.

Peters said the operation was funded by a Department of Labor grant and will continue until June 30, 2015.

BRN will hold its first roundtable meeting at 9 a.m. on April 29 at the Harrison Community Hospital.