More than $1.9M in contracts approved

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday approved more than $1.9 million in contracts for the Jefferson County Job and Family Services Department, with the bulk going for transportation.

Commissioners signed a contract for $1.75 million with Checker Cab of Steubenville to provide nonemergency transportation services for Medicaid-eligible residents. Checker Cab from January through October provided 22,435 one-way trips to doctor appointments, according to job and family services officials.

Elizabeth Ferron, job and family services director, said Checker Cab usually only draws down about $1 million of the contract.

Commissioner Tom Gentile said he doesn’t hear any complaints about Checker Cab, and Ferron added the company provides quality service.

Commissioner David Maple said the board during two prior meetings heard about how a plan that claimed transportation services in the county are flawed because of a lack of coordination.

“Now we are saying things are working well,” he said.

Checker Cab also was awarded a $33,000 contact for residents not eligible for Medicaid who need transportation for life-threatening treatments, such as dialysis.

Ferron said job and family services advertised for the transportation service five years ago, with Checker Cab getting a three-year contract with two, one-year renewals.

Commissioners also approved two job and family services contracts for administration of child support. Common pleas court will receive $137,803, and the county auditor’s office will receive $51,668. The federal government pays for two-thirds of the cost, Ferron said.

Commissioners met in executive session with representatives of the county health department concerning the health department’s lease at the Towers, a county-owned building.

After the meeting, both sides announced the health department will move from the seventh floor of the building to permanent offices on the sixth floor.

Gentile had been critical of the health department for closing the week of Thanksgiving because of work being done at the Towers for the new heating and air conditioning system. Gentile said work on the sixth floor is nearly complete.

Health department officials said the layout of the sixth floor will be more conducive for its operations.

Gentile noted the move will begin by the end of the year.

Dr. Frank L. Petrola, health department board president, said he is pleased with the agreement.

“We will be in good shape,” he said.

In other matters, commissioners received the county port authority’s proposed budget. The commissioners last year provided $140,000 for the budget, but commissioners said they want to see more economic development in the county.

Commissioner Thomas Graham said the port authority has been in existence for six years, and he noted his expectations for economic development are greater now with the oil and gas industry.

Maple added he wants the port authority to become more self-sufficient in the future, while Gentile said the county is sitting in the middle of the expansion of the oil and gas industry, especially with the two proposed cracker plants.

“We are coming into a time that things are starting to move in the oil and gas industry in this county and surrounding areas. With what is going on around us, we need to seize the opportunity as best as we can,” Gentile said.

Commissioners signed paperwork for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant for the Amsterdam sewer project.

About 400 homes will be serviced by the sewer system, and about one-fourth of them are in Carroll County. The sewer system is needed because of faulty septic tanks, said Michael Eroshevich, county water and sewer department director. Raw sewage is being dumped into Yellow Creek.

Eroshevich said the project will cost about $11 million, with the county receiving 68.4 percent of the cost in the form of grants.

Commissioners opened four bids for slip repairs on county Roads 72 and 74. The engineer’s estimate was $121,043. Allison Contracting of Wellsville had the apparent low bid of $115,274.