Airport could be home to a Jefferson County court

STEUBENVILLE — The Cross Creek Township trustees and the county apparently are in discussions that could lead to the county buying the township building at the airport, possibly to be used by Wintersville county court.

Costa Mastros, Cross Creek Township law director, informed the commissioners in a letter read Thursday that the township is proposing selling the building to the county for $100,000.

“Again, the purpose of this letter was to formalize our intent to negotiate with you for the sale of the building,” Mastros said. “With that in mind, I am requesting that a representative from the board of commissioners contact Geno Morelli, township trustee, to further these discussions.”

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said Judge Michael Bednar of Wintersville county court is interested in moving the court to the township building, which could be renovated with state grants for the courtroom and offices. Gentile said there is a parking issue at the current location on Talbot Drive.

County Commissioner David Maple said any discussions about the county buying the township building are preliminary. The county pays $1,350 a month in rent for the current court location, or $16,200 a year. He said financially it might make sense, but he is concerned about the county taking on another building.

Maple said he wants a formal appraisal of the township building and cost estimates for renovations.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said at this time he is against the county purchasing another building.

“We still have a lot to do with the buildings we have now. I’m a little hesitant at this time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind,” he said.

Gentile noted the county has other buildings at the airport, including the animal shelter and 911 center.

Lou Vandeborne, Cross Creek Township trustee, said the township a couple of years ago purchased the former Ohio Department of Transportation garage on Cadiz Road for its road equipment. The township has offices at the airport building for the police department, township trustees and fiscal officer.

Mastros said if the county purchases the township building, the township would negotiate a lease for police department offices.

In other matters, commissioners opened two bids for county engineer projects.

Howard Bowers Contracting of Steubenville was the apparent low bidder for slip repair work on county Roads 19 and 72 with a bid of $126,736. The engineer’s estimate was $131,823.

Shelly and Sands of Rayland was the apparent low bidder on a resurfacing project with a bid of $553,913. The engineer’s estimate for the paving of county Road 39 and roads in Wells, Smithfield and Salem townships was $584,239.

Commissioners opened a second set of bids for improvements to the Irondale community center using Community Development Block Grant funding. The engineer’s estimate, which was scaled down after a high bid the first time, was $57,500. TS Electric of Richmond was the sole bidder with a bid of $59,897.

Commissioners announced the county has received a $50,000 check from the Ohio Community Historic Preservation Fund, which is being funded with $1 million from the Rover Pipeline project. Rover Pipeline established the $1 million fund for historic preservation in the 18 counties impacted by the pipeline project.

Commissioners will use the money to fund the restoration of the rear of the courthouse. The courthouse had a walkway to the courthouse annex but the annex building was demolished, resulting in a doorway being exposed on the rear of the courthouse on the second floor.

Graham discussed the pending elimination of the Medicaid sales tax in Ohio, which will result in a loss of $1 million to the county. The state Legislature is considering a one-time reimbursement to counties. Graham said there has been a bipartisan effort by county commissioners throughout the state to restore the funding.

Commissioners also:

¯ Approved attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants for June totaling $43,035.

¯ Approved a contract with Lawrence County to house prisoners in the Jefferson County jail at a rate of $55 a day per prisoner.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)

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