STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County commissioners Thursday pledged their support to a program that will allow residents to make one phone call for referral help from more than 100 nonprofit social service agencies in the county.
Ross Gallabrese, United Way of Jefferson County board president, said a grant was received from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services through the Ohio United Way for the 211 informational and referral service.
Residents can call 211 at any time for referrals to non-profit social service agencies for help on such matters as getting food, shelter, clothing, rent/utility assistance, foreclosure help and job assistance. The call will be answered by a trained, certified specialist who will connect the caller with the appropriate agency. The calls will be answered by the United Way of Greater Stark County.
Gallabrese said there are 54 counties in Ohio that have 211 service. He said the local service may be available in February.
Gallabrese said the state grant, which totals $40,000, will pay for the start-up and the first year of service. After that, the local cost will be about $20,000 a year, he said.
County Commissioner Thomas Graham said he believes the commissioners should provide financial assistance to the program in the amount of $5,000 or $10,000, He said he will contact the county prosecutor's office for an opinion if the county can contribute funds for 211. He said the county can't provide funds to a non-governmental agency.
"It is a good program and it sounds like it has been successful," said county Commissioner David Maple. "The United Way continues to do very positive things across the country."
County Commissioner Tom Gentile was absent from the meeting.
Graham and Maple went on record supporting the 211 program.
In other matters, commissioners were informed by Shannan Gosbin, county director of sanitary engineering, that the county is almost ready to advertise for bids for improvements to the water distribution system in the south end of the county.
Gosbin said about 4.5 miles of new water transmission lines will be installed from Brilliant to New Alexandria and a new pumping station will be built at a cost of about $3 million. The county has received a low-interest loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Maple said the improvements are key to any development in the south end of the county.
The existing pumping station and size of the water transmission line is not sufficient for the number of county water customers in the south end of the county.
Commissioners also approved speed reductions on four county roads after a speed study conducted by the county engineer's department.
The engineer's department recommended the following speed reductions: county Road 40, 55 mph to 35 mph from state Route 152 to state Route 646; county Road 41, 55 mph to 35 mph; county Road 46, from state Route 213 to township Road 376; and county Road 47, from state Route 152 to Toronto corporation line.
Commissioners also agreed to take $13,500 from the capital improvement fund to install grass at the county's animal shelter. The grass hasn't grown since it was installed. Commissioners said the original contractor followed the specifications in the contract.
Commissioners also agreed to readvertise for engineering firms to submit qualifications to do an electrical system upgrade at the county courthouse. No firms submitted proposals during the first advertisement.