Jefferson County eyes spending to improve Towers building

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County commissioners Thursday agreed to look at ways to make energy efficiency improvements at the Towers on Market Street and buying new boilers for the county’s justice center.

Commissioners approved hiring McKinley & Associates of Wheeling to do a preliminary analysis on energy efficiency for the building. County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the study will include ways to correct pipes breaking in the building, which has resulted in damage to offices in the past couple weeks.

The cost of the analysis is not to exceed $2,000.

County Commissioner David Maple said the commissioners knew when the building was purchased by the county that improvements would have to be made to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and to lights throughout the building. He said the goal is a lower operating cost of the building.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the board did energy-efficiency studies on other county buildings to reduce operating costs, including the courthouse.

Debbie Hukill, the county’s insurance representative, said she believes it is a good practice to take a proactive approach to discover why pipes in the building broke during recent cold spells.

Commissioners also approved spending $75,250 to replace the two boilers at the county’s justice center.

Bob DiFonzo, county building maintenance supervisor, said one boiler is down and the other is having difficulty keeping up.

The boilers are the original ones installed when the building was built 17 years ago.

Fort Steuben Maintenance of Steubenville will order and install the boilers on an emergency basis in about two weeks.

Commissioners said if the remaining boiler goes down, the county may be forced to move more than 100 adult prisoners and a couple of dozen juveniles in the detention center to another facility.

Commissioners were asked by the county board of elections to set aside $40,000 for the annual software maintenance agreement for voting machines.

Commissioners referred a request from the Hopedale Board of Public Affairs to increase the purchase of county water for the village from 100,000 gallons a day to 200,000. The contract between the village and county for the water purchase has expired.

Maple said any discussions on the cost of the water will be handled in executive session.

Gentile said Hopedale has an opportunity to expand its service area to include gas and oil processing plants in Harrison County.

Geary Bates, a member of the county’s airport authority, approached the commissioners about renegotiating a gas and oil lease on the 556 acres of property at the airport when the current lease expires in 2018.

The airport will have received $1 million from the lease when it expires. Bates said all the money has gone into improvements at the airport.

Commissioners requested the county prosecutor’s office issue an opinion on whether the county has to bid the lease when it expires.

Commissioners were informed by Shannan Gosbin, county water and sewer department director, that the Bradley water line extension project would not include nine houses on county Road 20.

Gosbin said the county’s engineering consultant said it would cost an additional $500,000 to run 6,000 feet of main water line to the homes as part of the Bradley project.

Some of the residents of those nine homes were on the original petition to get county water.

Commissioners said they want more information on the costs before a decision is made to not include the nine homes in the project.