Humane society works on operations at shelter

STEUBENVILLE – Only two dogs at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter were euthanized in the past two months because of an agreement between the county’s humane society and the county’s dog warden.

Allegations were made in March about the number of dogs euthanized at the county’s animal shelter and animal abuse allegations. Commissioners at the time said the number of dogs put down decreased when the new animal shelter was built.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said at the commissioners’ meeting Thursday that the commission and humane society are working on a operations manual for the animal shelter.

Sally Wehr, county human society president, said the two dogs that were euthanized were very aggressive. She said the dogs couldn’t be adopted and were a danger to the staff working at the humane society. Wehr said the humane society and the county dog warden have to both sign paperwork before a dog is euthanized.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said he is pleased the county humane society is working with the county’s animal shelter on improving procedures.

“The changes are for the better,” Graham said.

County Commissioner David Maple said the county did a good job in constructing the animal shelter but didn’t follow up on changes to operations from the old animal shelter.

“We have come from a dog pound to an animal shelter,” Wehr said.

Gentile said the county also is looking at increasing the fee for dog registrations. He said the fee in the county is among the lowest in the state. Proceeds from the dog registrations go to funding the animal shelter’s operations. He said the commissioners are waiting on a recommendation from the humane society on a new dog registration fee.

Commissioners also heard a pitch from Buckeye Energy about an electric aggregation program for unincorporated areas of the county. The company wants to put the issue on the November ballot, saying the program would save electric customers money by the county negotiating a rate with an electricity provider.

Commissioners last week heard from another energy broker about the same issue.

Commissioners also adopted a resolution opposing a proposed change in state law that would allow country recorders to mandate budgets for their offices.

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio also is opposing the proposed state law.

Graham said the County Commissioners Association believes commissioners should be able to determine the budget amount for the recorder’s office.

The recorder’s office collects money through fees, which is placed into an equipment line item. The recorder’s office in the county has a balance of $223,000 in the fund.

Maple said the commissioners have not had a problem with county Recorder Paul McKeegan in working out an annual budget.

“The budget process has always been smooth with him,” Maple said.

Commissioners also signed bond papers for the runway extension project at the county airport. The project is estimated at $2 million, with the state contributing $1.5 million. The county is responsible for $500,000.

Gentile said he has received feedback from residents opposing the money being spent.

He said the lengthening of the runway to 5,000 feet will allow larger corporate jets to land at the airport.

He said that may make the county more attractive to companies, especially in the oil and gas industry, to locate here.

Gentile said the runway improvement is like “planting a seed and watching it grow.” He added the runway extension also could bring in more money from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Commissioners signed a contract with JDO Engineering (Jeff Oinonen) for engineering work on Community Development Block Grant sidewalk projects. The agreement is not to exceed $65,000, according to Domenick Mucci, county Regional Planning Commission director.

Commissioners also:

Opened one bid for the purchase of the old Smithfield county engineer’s department garage. The only bid was for $2,010.

Accepted a contract proposal from Hammontree and Associates of North Canton for engineering for the road extension project at the county industrial park. Maple said the commissioners have a signed letter of intent from a company to locate at the industrial park where the road will be constructed.

Proclaimed Thursday as National Day of Prayer.