County finishes Towers purchase

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday signed the closing documents and took possession of the Towers building on Market Street.

Commissioners reached an agreement with Tower Realty to purchase the Towers building at 500 Market St. for $750,000, plus $100,000 for four adjacent parking lots.

Commissioners also hired Scott Wells, the maintenance person at the building under the private owner, to continue working during the transition period. The board will advertise in the future to fill the position.

There are eight leases in the building for private businesses that will now pay the county for rent.

County Commissioner David Maple said the board will begin reviewing the leases.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the county offices in the building will no longer have to pay rent. The county health department also will stop paying $6,000 a month in rent, he said.

Graham added the county appointed a committee to study the purchase of the building, which met for about a year before returning with a positive recommendation.

Maple thanked the committee for its work.

“It was a well thought out process and a good addition for Jefferson County. It is a positive thing for the county,” Maple said.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the initial price for the building when proposed was double the final selling cost.

“When you look at what we pay in rent in the building, it is a good deal for us,” he said.

Gentile said the commissioners now will look at how to maintain the building.

Graham said the Courthouse Annex will be demolished to make room for public parking at the courthouse, and commissioners are looking to move the county board of elections, currently in the annex building, to the Towers.

Graham said he has been meeting with a bank interested in locating in the Towers.

Commissioners also announced the recreation funding for communities that comes from the county’s piggyback sales tax. Commissioners distributed a total of $166,152.50 to the following communities in the county:

Steubenville, $25,000; Toronto, $8,000; Adena, $5,000; Amsterdam, $4,661; Bergholz, $5,521;

Bloomingdale, $2,500; Dillonvale, $2,659.50; Empire, $1,450; Irondale, $2,916; Mingo Junction, $5,000; New Alexandria, $1,100; Rayland, $3,750; Richmond, $5,000; Stratton, $2,193; Wintersville, $7,000; Brush Creek Township, $2,500; Cross Creek Township, $2,112; Island Creek Township, $5,000; Mount Pleasant Township, $3,000; Salem Township, $5,000; Saline Township, $5,000; Smithfield Township, $3,290; Springfield Township, $3,500; Warren Township, $6,000; Wayne Township, $4,000; Wells Township, $5,000; Friendship Park, $20,000; and fair board, $20,000.

Commissioners also heard about a planned event on July 27-28 for the 150th anniversary of Morgan’s Raiders. Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan brought 2,000 troops into Indiana and Ohio in 1863.

Commissioners also:

Approved a six-year contract between Jefferson County Juvenile Detention and Washington County, Pa., to house juveniles in the facility. William Ward, Jefferson County Juvenile Detention director, said the per-day cost will increase from $120 to $135, with seven beds guaranteed each day.

Approved a contract with Malcolm Pirnie Inc. of Sewickley, Pa., for engineering work on the water tank rehabilitation projects in Bergholz and East Springfield. The $78,000 agreement is for design, reviewing bids and supervising work.

Agreed to advertise for bids for the construction of a 60-by-120 foot storage building at the county water and sewer department office on state Route 43, Wintersville, The department already purchased the steel building. The contract is for erecting the building and installing a concrete pad.

Approved a road-use maintenance agreement with Chesapeake Exploration for a new well site off Brush Creek Township Road 293.