County gets project updates

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday were updated on several pending water and sewer projects.

Tom Hartwig of Arcadis, the county’s engineering consultant, told the commissioners there will have to be several eminent domain actions filed in court concerning the Amsterdam sewer project. The $11 million project is beginning to fall behind schedule because residents haven’t signed rights of way for sewer lines to go onto their property.

About 400 homes will be serviced with the sewer system, with about one-fourth 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 about 70 percent of the total in the form of grants.

Hartwig said only about half of the easements have been signed. The residents aren’t signing the agreements because they want more money or don’t like how the lines will cross their property. He said the line locations can be changed.

“It is frustrating with the project proceeding well, and we get to this point were we are spending (engineering) money to get the easements,” said Commissioner Tom Gentile.

Hartwig said he hasn’t hit the panic stage about the project, but it has been delayed.

County water and sewer district workers and Arcadis engineers have been meeting personally with residents about the easements.

The design of the replacement of the Ridgeland sewer treatment plant is nearly complete, but Hartwig said the county might shelve the project because not all the funding for the work is in place.

Hartwig said the design of the Smithfield sewer system improvements is nearly complete, and the county will submit to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in April a permit to install.

He said the county is waiting for an environmental review to be completed for the new Smithfield water tank. The county received a $750,00 Community Development Block Grant for the project, in addition to $300,000 each in grants and loans from the state Environmental Protection Agency and $150,000 in a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hartwig said the project will be ready to go to bid in about two months.

Commissioners also were informed about one-third of the work to replace control boards used to open secured doors at the Justice Center has been completed.

The electronic control boards open about 120 secured doors in the adult jail and juvenile detention sections of the Justice Center. The existing boards are originals in the 20-year-old building and are failing.

United Construction Co. of Parkersburg submitted the sole bid of $553,167 when bids were opened in July.

Commissioners gave approval to the county Soil and Water Conservation District to hire the Columbus law firm of Brickler & Eckler to do legal work associated with about 352 acres of land the district wants to acquire in Jefferson County for recreational use. The commissioners set a cap of $40,000 for the legal work.

Commissioners also:

¯ Received the soil and water conservation district’s annual report on water discharges in the county. Brandon Andresen, district water quality coordinator, said communities in the county save money by have the district do the report instead of each community preparing its own. He said there have been educational programs about how water quality affects quality of life. He said discharge monitoring was hindered in 2018 because of the above-average rainfall.

¯ Approved attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants in the amount of $46,405 for March.

¯ Were informed the county’s workers’ compensation rate for 2019 will be $300,032. The County Commissioners Association of Ohio runs the program for 52 Ohio counties. The county is set to receive a targeted refund of $69,007.

¯ Were informed by the county prosecutor’s office the commissioners will have to advertise for qualifications from Realtors interested in securing leases for commercial office space at the Towers.

¯ Agreed to the reappointment of Brandon Reese of Wintersville to a four-year term on the county’s regional airport authority.

¯ Signed a road use maintenance agreement with Ascent Resources — Utica for a new well site in Smithfield Township. The designated haul route is on county Road 19 and township Road 139. Ascent, if it hasn’t already made improvements due to existing well sites, will have to upgrade the routes, said county Engineer James Branagan.

¯ Agreed, at the request of Branagan, for the county to participate in the state cooperative salt purchasing program with the Ohio Department of Transportation for next winter.