Plumbing inspector dispute appears at an end

STEUBENVILLE – It appears the finger pointing between the Jefferson County commissioners and the county health department will result in both sides getting what they want.

The commissioners continued their questioning Thursday of the county health department concerning the plumbing inspector position.

The plumbing inspector at the health department retired earlier this summer.

Bruce Misselwitz, county health department administrator, said the plumbing inspector for the Steubenville Health Department was contacted about doing inspections for the county, but the city wasn’t willing to proceed without aa agreement.

Patricia Reda, Steubenville health commissioner, on July 18 sent a letter to Misselwitz stating the city health department was willing to sit down for discussions about the county using the city’s plumbing inspector.

Misselwitz said the county health department was concerned about the city’s plumbing inspector enforcing city plumbing codes in the county.

Reda said that wouldn’t be the case. She said the plumbing inspection outside the city is covered by state codes, which are different than city requirements. Reda said residential plumbing in the county doesn’t need a certified master plumber but commercial work requires a master plumber as per state code.

Reda said the city wanted some type of an agreement with the county because of liability issues.

Misselwitz said the county’s plumbing inspector was working out of his home and only working about one day a week. He said the county health department is having difficulty in filling the position and will probably turn to the city for an agreement for the city plumbing inspector to do the work.

County Commissioner David Maple said a retirement of an employee is a good opportunity to consolidate and share services among departments. He said he hopes both health departments explore areas of sharing services.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said in times of budget challenges faced by the county and the city, the sharing of services can save both health departments money.

In other matters, commissioners announced Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, has been suspended without pay for 30 days for insubordination. Commissioners met in executive session on Thursday before announcing the decision. Gentile said the board isn’t releasing any details, saying it was a personnel matter.

Gosbin had no comment on the matter.

In the suspension letter, the commissioners said they gave Gosbin “clear direction” to stop allowing one company to dump septic waste at a county sewage treatment facility. Commissoners said another company wanted to also dump septic at the plant. The letter stated Gosbin failed to act on the directive and it was interpreted as insubordination.

The septic company that was dumping at the county plant had a verbal agreement with the county dating back to the 1990s and also provided pumping services to the county in maintaining the treatment plants.

Commissioners also:

Signed a $399,663 contract between the county’s child support enforcement agency and county juvenile court for work on child support cases. Federal funds will cover 66 percent of the costs of the one-year contract.

Agreed to advertise for bids for the extension of the road at the county’s industrial park off county Road 43. The county engineer’s estimate for the project is $225,000.

Agreed to advertise for fuel bids for the county engineer’s department.

Agreed to allow Rayland to change its project using recreation funds from the county’s piggyback sales tax. The village was asking to use $3,750 to buy park equipment but now wants to remove tree roots and repave about 200 feet of the walking track at the village park.

Entered into an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase snow removal equipment at the county airport at a cost of $174,688, with the county paying 10 percent of the cost..

Akron Tractor and Equipment Inc. of Akron had the only bid that met FAA requirements that 60 percent of the equipment be made in the U.S..

Agreed to enter a contract with Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration of Wheeling to move the county veterans services commission from its building on North Street to the Towers building on Market Street at a cost of $1,785.

Agreed to spend $20,000 to replace a failed pump for fire protection equipment at the Towers building.