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Chairman of area port authority resigns

STEUBENVILLE — Edward Florak, the chairman of the Jefferson County Port Authority, has submitted his resignation from the post.

Florak is an appointee of the city, and has served on the port authority since its inception in 2013. The city and county each have four appointments to the nine-member port authority board.

Mayor Jerry Barilla said he received the resignation letter from Florak effective immediately. Another city appointee term, Jim Emmerling, is expiring in September. The city has about three months to either reappoint Emmerling or name a replacement.

The port authority board in August announced its executive director, Evan Scurti, was going to a part-time position as incentives manager, and the search has begun for a new executive director.

Jay Zatta, port authority vice chairman, said he will chair the next meeting of the port authority at 8 a.m. on Sept. 25. The board will then elect a chairman to serve out the remainder of the year, he said.

“I am disappointed to see Ed leave. He is one of the original board members. I understand his desire to leave,” Zatta said.

Florak couldn’t be reached for comment.

Zatta said the resignation of Florak won’t have an impact on the committee searching for a new executive director.

Board member Robert D’Anniballe is chairing the search committee with the assistance of board members Zatta and Debbie Venci. Zatta said Florak also was on the search committee as chairman. The new chairman will be on the search committee, he said.

The city and county have been in discussions on the makeup of the board and the financial contributions. Discussions have included talks about reducing the number of city appointments to two.

Barilla said, if that happens, then he won’t have to name replacements for Florak and possibly for Emmerling.

Barilla said he believes the city appointments should remain at four, since Steubenville is the largest municipality in the county.

The county has supplied about $900,000 to the port authority since its inception, with the city contributing about $100,000.

“If we will be a player on the port authority, we need to stay with what we have,” Barilla said about the number of appointments. “We have to increase our monetary contributions. It (the port authority) needs money to operate,” he said.

There have been discussions to give other communities in the county appointments to the port authority if Steubenville reduces its appointments. But the question remains about whether other communities have the funds to give to the port authority operations.

“I don’t know if the other communities can afford it,” Barilla said.

Barilla wants another meeting with the port authority to answer questions before the city makes a final decision.

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