Port authority moves forward

WINTERSVILLE – The Jefferson County Port Authority board of directors agreed Tuesday to offer jobs to the two current staff members at the Jefferson County Community Improvement Corp. and to seek a one-year lease for two offices at the Jefferson County Airpark facility.

Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Graham said the commissioners “are real close to a deal on the Ohio Valley Towers. We will know within a week or two if we have a purchase agreement in place. If we do, then the port authority could move their offices to that building.”

The port authority members also agreed to send letters to all Partners in Progress who donated funds to Progress Alliance asking them to consider transferring their donations to the port authority.

The board met for nearly an hour in executive session to discuss asking Kim Cline-DeLuca and Donna Hrezo to work at the port authority offices after they are finished next month at the CIC offices.

The CIC board of directors met for a final meeting last week, and board Chairman Bob Chapman announced the economic development group would conclude operations and hire an attorney to legally close the organization.

Chapman also said the CIC would sell its office equipment and computers at an auction.

But Jefferson County commissioners Tom Gentile and Graham said Tuesday the CIC may not be able to dissolve itself or sell its property.

“According to the Ohio Revised Code, they cannot sell their furniture or equipment at auction. The commissioners will discuss the possibility of purchasing their software. And the ORC may require them to turn their computers over to the county. We are looking into that,” Gentile said.

“There was a very detailed exit plan in place at the CIC meeting. Decisions were made creating the exit plan that should have required the entire board to participate in. If you look at the situation, I don’t understand who made decisions and when those decisions were made,” added Gentile.

And Graham said the county commissioners were not involved in any discussions, “yet we are board members. We are on the CIC executive board but we weren’t notified of any meeting.”

“The commissioners created the CIC and only we can dissolve the organization,” added Graham.

Authority member Deborah Venci said the CIC has a valid exit plan in place.

“I am disappointed they took action to dissolve the CIC. People well versed in the county are part of the CIC. I would like to see us work together to make the county a great place to live and work,” Venci said.

Gentile said he has been contacted by people, “who were not part of the CIC but would like to support the port authority. We are open to accepting financial support from everyone.”

“We need to encourage the Partners in Progress to continue their funding through the port authority and to reach out to people who may want to contribute to the port authority,” said authority Chairman Jay Zatta.

Zatta said the board will start advertising for an executive director for the port authority and will consider possible candidates for the interim director position.

“As of now we will continue to manage by committee with the staff members we hope to bring on board,” said Zatta.