Officials seeking legal advice on water project

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday said they will seek an opinion from the county prosecutor’s office on whether the county water and sewer department can assist in installing a water line at the Steubenville Marina.

Michael Eroshevich, county water and sewer department director, said he believes the county and city water departments can work together in installing the water line. City officials have said the water line will help with future development at the marina.

Eroshevich said the county has equipment to fuse sections of water line together, but commissioners said they want the opinion on whether the county can legally do work in the city.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said he is concerned about setting a precedent, whereby other communities will ask for the county’s help on projects.

County Commissioner David Maple said he will only support the work if there is no negative impact on county water customers.

Graham said, once the legal opinion is received, the commissioners can have further discussions on the project.

Commissioners approved a request from Betty Lou Tarr, county regional planning commission director, for $75,000 in funding needed to complete a road project on county Road 7B outside Mingo Junction.

Regional planning obtained a $300,000 state critical infrastructure grant for the project. The county engineer’s department is chipping in $215,000.

But bids for the project can in higher than anticipated and county Engineer James Branagan said his department can’t contribute any more money because of the amount of road slips this year.

Branagan said the work includes repaving and the replacement of catch basins, curbs and sidewalks.

The county is in the process of replacing a bridge in the area.

Commissioners approved a resolution in support of a project at Friendship Park to reduce the slope of mining highwalls off county Road 23.

Branagan, who is a Friendship Park commissioner, said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources intends to reduce the slope of the highwalls and do plantings of trees and shrubs. He said the project will help eliminate a safety issue with the highwalls and make the area more useful for recreation.

Friendship Park is applying for a Clean Ohio Grant to assist with the project.

Commissioners gave approval to Evan Scurti, county Port Authority director, to submit an application to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to mitigate a wetlands area at the county industrial park off county Road 43.

There is a 26-acre tract of land available at the industrial park, which could hold a 120,000 square foot building, Scurti said. But there is a 1.07 acres of wetland on the tract, he said.

The county is asking the OEPA to allow the county to pay about $112,000 to a land conservation district for a wetlands credit.

“This has been a long time in coming. It is needed for future economic development,” Graham said.

Commissioners heard from Barry Bardone of the Jefferson County Veterans Association about the honor wall constructed at Friendship Park. Bardone said the group anticipated in getting about 90 bricks paid for by family members of veterans, but the number grew to 888 bricks.

Bardone asked for help in getting the county to install balisters near the honor wall to prevent a vehicle from striking the wall.

Bardone also said many of the bricks installed in the past couple of years ago have faded to the point where the name can’t be seen. Commissioners said they will ask the county prosecutor’s office for an opinion on how to proceed to getting the situation rectified concerning the brick manufacturer.

Commissioners approved a resolution supplied by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio thanking Gov. Mike DeWine and the state legislature for approving the budget bill which gives counties additional funding for attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants and for children services.

“This is the first time in a longtime (the state) has helped counties get money back,” Graham said.

Maple noted there was strong support on both sides of the legislature for the budget bill.

“Everyone participated in the effort to get money back,” he said.

Commissioners, upon the request of the engineer’s department, approved an amendment to a road use maintenance agreement with Ascent Resources for a new well site in Wayne Township. Roads in the area of the well site on county Road 25 were already upgraded from a previous well, and will be used as the designated haul route.