County says its roads are OK

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County Engineer James Branagan said his department doesn’t get a lot of calls about potholes because of efforts to repair roads from the base up on a timely basis.

Branagan presented the county commissioners Thursday with his annual report that showed 11 miles of county roads were repaved, 41 miles chipped and sealed, two bridges were replaced and five bridges were repaired, five slips were fixed and county crews spread more than 6,500 tons of salt throughout 2013.

The county engineer’s department last year finished the 7.75 miles of paving of county Road 15 from Rayland to Smithfield. Branagan said crews rebuilt the base along the length of the road prior to repaving.

He said rebuilding the base of county roads always has been a goal of the department to extend the life of the paved surface. He said the extra work prevents the formation of potholes.

“We used to have a pothole problem this time of the year. The phone would be ringing off the hook. We now don’t have as many potholes. If we keep it up (building roads), things will just keep getting better,” Branagan said.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said there aren’t many potholes on county roads because of the work of the county engineer’s department.

Andy Bryan, engineer department chief deputy engineer, said gas, oil and coal companies paid $1.8 million for roads used for hauling to be repaved. He said 8.2 miles of county roads were improved due to road maintenance agreements with the gas, oil and coal companies.

County Commissioner Dave Maple said Branagan runs his department like a business. He said the department sets goals and works to meet the goals.

“In government, you don’t see that philosophy in management methods,” Maple said.

Maple added he hears complaints about county government but doesn’t hear residents talking about bad roads.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham was absent from the meeting.

Commissioners also discussed dog adoptions at the county animal shelter with Sally Wehr, Jefferson County Humane Society president. The county has an agreement with the human society to handle certain operations at the animal shelter, including adoptions of cats and dogs.

Maple said he disagrees with the human society requiring people to sign an agreement not to keep dogs outside. Maple said that hinders the county’s efforts to get dogs adopted.

Wehr said 152 animals were brought to the animal shelter in 2013 and 112 were adopted and 28 were returned to their owners.

Wehr noted the humane society prefers a dog be kept inside.

Maple said there are dogs at the shelter that could be adopted if they were kept outdoors. He said county taxpayers are paying for the dogs to be fed and cared for at the shelter instead of being adopted.

Gentile said people have different standards for the care of a dog. He said some people prefer a dog be kept outside and some allow the dogs to sleep on their bed.

Maple said the commissioners will continue talking with the humane society about the issue, especially since the agreement with the humane society for helping with operations at the shelter expires in April.

Maple said the agreement with the humane society overall has been successful.

Commissioners also:

Signed a preapplication with the Federal Aviation Administration for $227,194 for an asphalt overlay of 3,500 feet of the runway at the county airport.

Gary Folden, airport authority secretary, said remaining state grant funds for the extension of the runway to 5,000 feet will be used for the rest of the cost of the asphalt overlay.

– Opened bids for aggregates to be used in the runway extension project. The engineer’s estimate was $322,629. National Lime and Stone of Findlay bid the exact amount of the engineer’s estimate.

– Heard from Mike Paprocki, Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission transportation study director, about support for the U.S. Bicycle Route 50 project. He said the route goes from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The route will travel through Jefferson County along county Road 22A through Wintersville and Steubenville on Sunset Boulevard, down Market Street and cross the Ohio River on the Market Street Bridge.

He said the Ohio Department of Transportation is collecting resolutions supporting the project and designated routes.

– Agreed to reject one bid for signs for the county engineer department and readvertise for bids because the original bid exceeded the engineer’s estimate by more than 10 percent. Branagan said the number of signs was adjusted, as well as the estimated cost from $24,736 to $21,100.

– Signed road-use maintenance agreements with Chesapeake Exploration for two well sites. Work will have to be done to improve Smithfield Township Road 221, county Roads 58 and 60 and township Road 263 in Springfield and Ross townships.

– Conducted a public hearing at the request of Oxford Mining Co. of Cadiz to mine near county Road 51, near the intersection of state Route 213. No public input was received objecting to the plan.