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County OKs plan on donations to port authority

December 14, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday signed paperwork that will allow private donations from businesses to be made to the county port authority.

The county is applying to the state for a nonprofit designation for the port authority.

The commissioners last week pledged up to $100,000 in funding to the port authority. The county had been giving $75,000 a year to Progress Alliance, the current economic development organization in the county, which represented 30 percent of Progress Alliance's annual operating budget.

The Community Improvement Corp., which runs Progress Alliance, has sent a letter to the commissioners asking for direction on future funding for Progress Alliance. Robert Chapman, CIC board president, said the CIC is meeting Tuesday to discuss whether Progress Alliance will continue. He said it appears the port authority will be the lead economic development organization based on the commissioners being willing to fund it.

If Progress Alliance is eliminated, the CIC needs a timetable for the transition of pending economic development projects to the port authority, as well as turning over management of the county's industrial park, the revolving loan fund and the handling of the tax incentive review council meetings, Chapman said.

Edward Looman, who was Progress Alliance director, has accepted a position with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, leaving Progress Alliance without a director.

Chapman said Looman has pledged continued assistance with current projects, ensuring no possible economic development opportunities "slip through the cracks."

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the nonprofit designation for the port authority will allow businesses to make tax-deductible donations.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said there have been numerous businesses willing to make financial contributions to the port authority.

In other matters, Jason Hanlin of the county's drug task force asked the commissioners to sign a grant application to the state's Office of Criminal Justice Service. Hanlin said the county can apply for up to $250,000 in funding. Hanlin said the drug task force can use the grant money for a wide range of items, including salaries, equipment and training.

Commissioners also agreed to provide an additional $4,635 to the county recorder's office for salaries for the remainder of the year. County Recorder Paul McKeegan said the department incurred overtime and the hiring of a part-time worker over the summer to handle the increase in gas and oil lease filings.

Commissioners also:

Agreed to the purchase of a 60-by-120-foot steel building to store equipment for the county water and sewer department. The department obtained quotes from businesses and the lowest, $40,272, was from OVECO of Wintersville. The water and sewer department now will obtain quotes from contractors for the construction of the building.

Agreed to purchase a heavy-equipment trailer at a cost of $30,920 from Columbus Equipment of Columbus for the water and sewer department.

Were informed of the reappointments by Probate Judge Sam Kerr of William T. Kerr of Wintersville and James Morgan of Steubenville to four-year terms on the county's Department of Developmental Disabilities Board.

Approved the reappointments of members of the county E-911 board of directors: Tony Porreco, Toronto Police, representing police departments; Robert Millick, Belvedere Volunteer Fire Department, representing fire departments; Ed Ulczynski, Mount Pleasant Emergency Medical Services, representing EMS; and Terri English, representing the private sector.

Signed paperwork for the issuance of $3,525,000 in bonds for the 911 system to purchase new radio equipment.

Agreed to an additional $150,000 in federal pass-through funding in a contract between the county's Job and Family Services department and Checker Cab for the transportation of county residents receiving Medicaid. The contract amount, with the increase, now totals $930,000.

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