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Only two apply for Jefferson County Port Authority director position

STEUBENVILLE — So far, only two people have expressed interest in being the next director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, and that may not be enough.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Rob D’Anniballe said the deadline to apply is near and it’s entirely possible the search committee could decide to continue advertising in hopes of attracting more interest.

“With only two, we may want to explore other (avenues),” he said. “Two is amazingly low, but part of that may be the times we’re in.”

D’Anniballe said he hadn’t looked at either of the submissions, saying he thought that should be done either in person or in a conference call with other search committee members. He said once he confirms when the deadline is, “then I think we’ll meet…and open up the applications.”

He said at one point an outside firm had offered to handle the search, “but that had a pretty significant fee attached to it. We thought we would wait and see how this round went first.”

“I fully expected more than two. Two is shocking to me,” he said.

One of the two applicants in hand is local.

The search for a new director began in August when Evan Scurti was shifted to a part-time role as incentives manager after serving as the executive director since December 2013. Scurti has continued to handle the port authority’s day-to-day operations in the interim.

County Commissioner Dave Maple said he’d like to see some sort of timeline for filling the vacancy.

“Obviously, we’re encouraging this to be filled as quickly as possible,” Maple said. “We’re looking for some sort of date when we might be able to see someone in that position.”

But Chairman Greg Nemeth said while he would like to see a decision made, he’s not sure the search committee will be ready to make a recommendation with only two applicants.

“I think it comes down to who are the applicants,” committee member Jay Zatta said.

Once they know the application period is closed, D’Anniballe said the committee will decide how it wants to proceed. “If everybody is comfortable with the two names, we’ll go from there,” he said. “If not, then we’ll have to figure out where to advertise (next).”

Scurti, meanwhile, was commended for his work in securing a wetlands mitigation permit for a parcel at the industrial park.

“Evan’s done a real good job of helping me coordinate that work along with future development of the acreage,” Maple said. “I’m excited to have the wetland issue behind us. It’s been before us for years, so having it behind us is a fantastic improvement.”

The permit clears the way for development of a 26-acre parcel at the industrial park, whether it’s constructing a building themselves, or an investor coming along who sees its potential and takes it on, Scurti said.

“Plus, to remove those wetlands we had to pay a conservancy that will replace the wetlands and more so environmentally, ti is a good thing, too,” Maple said.

There’s also potential federal funding to help fill and grade the site. Scurti said they’ll meeting with Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “hopefully next week,” to discuss funding possibilities.

Scurti said their consultant made it clear that now that they have the permit, “we can move forward with a construction project if we choose, but if someone else comes along and wants to create jobs, the permit can be transferred to them.”

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