County talks about runway project

STEUBENVILLE – Commissioners expressed optimism Thursday concerning the runway extension project at the Jefferson County Airpark.

The runway extension project includes expanding a taxiway to up to 5,000 feet to accommodate larger aircraft such as private jets. During Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Tom Gentile said he’d noticed larger aircraft landing at the park recently.

Gentile added he’d recently seen several smaller jets and larger turbo props landing at the airpark.

“Last month (the airpark) sold 6,000 gallons of fuel,” said Gentile, adding once the taxiway is completed to 5,000 feet, even more aircraft will be able to fuel up. “That’s the most they’ve ever sold in one month.

“When the jets start coming in, they will be able to take on even more fuel,” he continued. “It’s rare I go out there and there isn’t a corporate (aircraft) out there.”

Commissioner Tom Graham said he believed the increased airpark traffic was related to oil and gas exploitation in the area. Gentile concurred, adding that “once the runway is extended to 5,000 feet we’ll see even larger aircraft coming in.”

In other matters:

– Shannon Gosbin, Jefferson County sanitary engineer, said work is progressing on the Crestview-Belvedere water and sewage project. Gosbin said work was being buttoned up on restoration of 10 to 15 residential yards, and the project to tie 450 county residents into the county sewage system is progressing smoothly. Gosbin also said she wanted to begin charging customers who tie into the county system soon for tap-in fees and service. The exception would be those who haven’t yet been tied into the county’s sewage system. Those residences would have a 90-day extension on paying sewage fees until Jan. 15, according to Gosbin and Graham. They still would be responsible for paying the tie-in fee.

Gentile said he wanted to know which residences have yet to contract a private contractor to tie residences into the county’s system.

The county supplies the water and sewage services, while residents are responsible for hiring a private contractor to tie into the system. The county is charging a $6,000 fee to tie into its system.

– The Jefferson County coroner’s office asked commissioners for additional $5,500 to remain operational through the end of the year. The office spent $12,000 in 2012 and was budgeted at $13,000 for this year, but has already run out of funds.

“That’s a reflection of the drug and crime situation in Jefferson County,” said Graham, adding he’d spoken about the matter to Jefferson County Coroner Michael Scarpone.

Graham added the office is spending more on autopsies on victims tied to crime and drugs in the county. Commissioners agreed to fund the coroner’s office through the end of the year through the county’s emergency fund.

– Commissioners granted Jefferson County Engineer Jim Branagan’s request to advertise a public hearing on a proposed vacation of some Knoxville Township roads in New Somerset.

– Commissioners approved $90,406 bid from Aero-Mark Inc. of Streetsboro for striping of 206 miles of yellow center line and 7 miles of white edge markings. The county engineer’s estimate had been $89,850, while Aero-Mark had the apparent low bid of $90,406.

– Graham said he attended the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission banquet Wednesday, where Toronto Mayor John Geddis was named public servant of the year. Commissioners also agreed to send a card to Geddis, who currently is battling cancer.

– It was announced the courthouse will be closed Monday in observance of Columbus Day.