County updated on inspection of rides for fair

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County commissioners on Wednesday were updated on the inspection of rides at next week’s county fair.

Debbie Hukill, fair board treasurer, said the Ohio Department of Agriculture inspects every ride at every county fair. She said when the amusement company arrives at the fairgrounds in Smithfield, the inspector will be waiting. The rides will not be allowed to open until the inspection is completed, she said.

One person was killed and several others injured when a ride malfunctioned at the state fair in Columbus on July 26.

Hukill said as thorough as the inspections can be, there can be mechanical issues that can’t be seen.

“What can be humanly done is being done at every fair,” Hukill said of the inspections.

The county fair spends $40,000 on rides. She said that budget doesn’t bring in some of the larger rides seen at other fairs that spend $100,000.

The county fair will open at 5 p.m. on Monday and be open to the public Tuesday through Aug. 20.

Commissioners agreed to discuss taking out a $3 million loan to pay for heating ventilation, air conditioning and heating improvements at the Towers, the parking lot behind the courthouse and repairs to the fire escape at the courthouse.

Representatives of McKinley & Associates, the county’s architect, said the plans for the HVAC at the Towers has been submitted to the city’s building department for approval.

McKinley & Associates and the commissioners won’t release the estimate for the HVAC work because it may impact the bids of contractors.

Commissioner David Maple said releasing the estimate wouldn’t be in the best interest of the public.

“My worry is the eningeer’s cost estimate will be way off and too high,” he said, adding the commissioners aren’t required to list an estimate.

Maple said there is still about $500,000 left on a prior loan for improvements at the Towers.

The HVAC work will be completed during the winter, according to Ernie Dellatorre, McKinley president.

Commissioner Tom Gentile said the repairs to the fire escape at the courthouse will be expensive. He noted it is good time to get a loan with low interest rates.

Commissioners signed a contract with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department to house prisoners at the county jail at a rate of $55 a day.

Maple said he wants to know if the $55 a day, which has been the rate for years, covers expenses and is a competitive rate.

Commissioner Thomas Graham noted any extra money for the Jefferson County jail helps the operating costs.

The commissioners received the 2016 county audit from the state auditor’s office, which showed no findings for recovery.

Commissioners heard from Fritz Tulencik of Amsterdam about odor complaints at the Apex Landfill. Tulencik thanked the commissioners for sending a letter to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about the odor complaints. The OEPA responded back saying there were no current violations at the landfill.

Tulencik urged residents around the landfill to call the odor complaint hotline at (888) 878-7919.

Maple said the number of calls to the hotline show if Apex’s corrective actions are working.

Commissioners will meet with the Belmont County commissioners after next week’s meeting to tour the Jefferson County animal shelter. Gentile noted the Belmont County commissioners want to see the operations of the county’s animal shelter.

Commissioners opened two bids for the resurfacing of county Road 54. The county engineer’s estimate was $328,054. Shelly & Sands of Rayland had the apparent low bid of $299,436.

No bids were received for a bridge project on county Road 8. Kara Bernhart, country bridge engineer, said the bridge isn’t in “dire condition.” She noted contractors are busy with other road and bridge projects in the area, and the project will be rebid next year.

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