Port authority to offer job to final candidate

WINTERSVILLE – Jefferson County Port Authority Chairman Jay Zatta will offer the executive director’s job to the candidate approved Tuesday by the port’s board of directors during a one-hour, closed-door meeting.

The board, along with all three Jefferson County commissioners, emerged from the executive session to officially authorize Zatta, “to engage in discussions with a potential candidate for the executive director position.”

Zatta said the search for an executive director started with 20 candidates and was narrowed to seven candidates and then four finalists who were interviewed by telephone.

“We then interviewed two candidates in a face-to-face setting. The board discussed the final two candidates and decided on one person. I will talk to the candidate to discuss a compensation package and will determine if we have an agreement,” Zatta said.

“My goal all along was to have an executive director in place by the end of this year. Now I hope to call a special board meeting within the next two weeks to introduce our first executive director,” Zatta stated.

The port authority has been under the direction of an office manager and the board of directors since it was organized in January 2012, following an agreement between the county commissioners and the Steubenville Council.

The authority’s board of directors also learned Tuesday the county commissioners have personally agreed to increase funding for the port authority to $150,000 annually for the next thee years.

The commissioners currently provide $100,000 a year to the authority.

“The funding will depend on our county budget and our fiscal situation. We are going to retain the mineral rights to the Jefferson County Industrial Park but have asked the port authority to market those potential mineral rights. If there is a revenue stream from the mineral rights, we anticipate helping the port authority. But if there are zero funds from mineral rights there will be zero to share,” Commissioner David Maple explained.

“We also asked the port authority to market the mineral rights to the approximately 300 acres of county-owned land,” added Maple.

Maple said the commissioners may decide in the future to ask the port authority to manage the Ohio Valley Towers.

The authority board agreed Tuesday to help market the towers building in an attempt to bring more tenants into the county-owned structure.

“As of now 26 percent of the Towers is occupied. We will be moving the board of elections to the Towers after the election, and the Veterans Services Commission will be moving in the next couple of weeks. We will be able to provide you with the unoccupied space in the Towers so you can properly market the available space in the building,” said Commissioner Thomas Graham.

Board member Robert D’Anniballe suggested the commissioners may want to rename the Ohio Valley Towers building, “because no one really knows what to call the building now that the county owns it.”

“We are excited because we are moving forward. We are on the verge of announcing our first executive director and we are getting closer to announcing a new tenant in the industrial park. We are still in negotiations with a potential buyer. Developing an organization from scratch has not been easy. But we have made significant progress during the past several months,” stated Zatta.

In other business, board member Debby Venci said the Charles and Thelma Pugliese Foundation has approved a $5,000 grant application submitted by the port authority.

“We all need to continue working on our list of contacts for continued financial support for the authority,” said Venci.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)