Airport car buy draws county’s attention

STEUBENVILLE – Several issues surrounding the Jefferson County Airpark were discussed during Thursday’s Jefferson County commissioners’ meeting.

In a letter to commissioners, board members from the Jefferson County Regional Airpark Authority requested to buy a courtesy vehicle for use at the airpark. The letter indicated the vehicle would be used to assist any pilots or passengers flying into the airpark, and board members already had a used vehicle in mind for purchase.

However, commissioners said they weren’t ready to purchase a courtesy vehicle until the airport authority established rules and guidelines for use of the vehicle.

“I think I would want to know how that vehicle is being used first,” said Commissioner Thomas Graham.

Gary Folden, secretary and treasurer for the airport authority, said board members had agreed to use the vehicle for trips of less than 30 miles. Commissioners Graham and Tom Gentile both said while the idea is sound, they are uncomfortable buying the vehicle until conditions are in place. Gentile also expressed concerns about liability and insurance issues.

“I could see the vehicle being purchased now and then lock up the keys until (procedures were in place),” said Commissioner Dave Maple.

Maple also said he appreciates the way the board sought out a suitable vehicle, and it was the “right way,” but the county’s procedure is to have rules and regulations in place first before such purchases.

“It’s best to have the right policies in place first,” said Maple.

Gentile said pilots make the decisions where to fly and to what airport, and anything attracting them to fly to the Jefferson County Airpark is good for the county.

“You want pilots to come to the airport,” he said, adding planes then refuel there, resulting in revenue for the airpark. “It benefits the airpark and Jefferson County.”

Graham asked if the vehicle is needed. Folden said he would investigate, and the board could decide to establish a policy and hold a special meeting on the issue. Commissioners decided to table the request for this week.

In other airpark matters, commissioners agreed with the airport authority board’s decision to make a payment of $75,714 as part of a state grant for the airpark’s runway improvement project. The state also will pay $227,144 directly to the contractor. The state matching grant for the project – the airpark authority pays 25 percent, while the state pays 75 percent – will amount to nearly $2 million when completed.

Commissioners also approved the Federal Aviation Administration reimbursing the airport agency $16,993 for rehabilitation of a runway apron at the airpark. Commissioners also agreed to pay $22,636 in engineering and design fees to Michael Baker Jr. Inc. for the taxiway extension project.

During the last meeting, Geary Bates, authority board member, had asked commissioners for permission for topsoil replacement for erosion control at a section of the airpark. However, in a letter to commissioners, airpark officials decided to delay the action until spring.

Commissioners were complimentary of airpark officials using summer employees to help cut grass at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter at a cost of $889 for the summer, resulting in saving the county from hiring a private contractor to do the work at a much higher cost.

Also, Maple previously had asked why the airpark purchased a John Deere MX-15 flex-wing rotary cutter when there were cheaper alternatives. In a letter to commissioners from Folden, Geno Morelli, authority board member, outlined reasons why the John Deere cutter was a better fit for the airpark in that it was a high-quality machine with a better resale value and all attachments were included in the cost. Morelli also cited personal experience with the machine, and it was purchased at the state discounting price of $11,500 from Kuester Implement Co.

“My only concern is that if we are purchasing a more expensive piece of equipment it should be reflected in our minutes,” said Maple, adding he was satisfied with the explanation.

In other matters:

Commissioners approved the reapportionment of Richard Allen and the appointment of Chris Irvin to sit on the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Commissioners complimented both for their service, as well as Bob Betram, who couldn’t be re-appointed because of term limits.

Commissioners approved a termination of contract between Marsha Fetty and Karen Tamburro, custodial employees at the Towers, effective Nov. 29.

Commissioners agreed to a contract Mike Pusateri Excavating of East Liverpool for demolition of six derelict buildings throughout the county as part of the state’s Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Project grant. The contract for the demolition comes to $75,995.

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