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Work on Smithfield water tank nearing completion

STEUBENVILLE — More than four years in development, the new Smithfield water tank is just a few weeks at most away from coming online.

“They’re doing some site work right now,” Jefferson County Water and Sewer Department Director Mike Eroshevich said. “We’ll be putting it online over the next month — hopefully in August but for sure by September.”

The $1.6 million tank, located behind the county highway department garage off state Route 151, holds 200,000 gallons of water and will supply about 600 customers in the Smithfield, Piney Fork and Dillonvale Ridge areas.

“That tank is extremely important to the water supply in the entire southern system of the Jefferson County because pretty much all of the water that will feed the southern system, not just the village of Smithfield, will go through (it) and they’ll get their pressure from that tank,” Commissioner Tom Gentile said. “That’s why it’s so high. That tank is vital to our current and future customers.”

It replaces a 100,000 gallon tank that, after 80-plus years of service, county officials said couldn’t be filled more than halfway because of leaks.

Gentile said they knew an overhaul was going to be needed even before they took over the Smithfield water system back in February 2013.

“We fixed the leaks, put meters in the entire system, repaired everything that needed done — it’s been nothing but positive moves all along,” Gentile said. “It’s wonderful for customers and it’s wonderful for the water department.”

Gentile said the tank upgrade gives them capacity to grow the system if the opportunity presents.

“If we’re ever going to expand in the southern end of the county, we need the pressure and volume that tank will provide,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Graham said it was “long overdue.”

“There were even people that didn’t have meters,” he said. “The county gained hundreds of customers and bailed Smithfield out.”

Eroshevich said the new tank is 180 feet high.

“It was designed to be the same elevation as the old one,” he said. “However, the old one was on a hill so this one is physically higher.”

Commissioner Dave Maple said it was important for Smithfield residents to see the tank fully done and painted.

“When we took over the system, it really was a requirement that we (replaced it), it was in really, really bad shape. It’s been a while, but it’s a nice improvement,” he said. “It’s improved our overall water system (and) I’m glad we were able to put something positive into the community for those folks, the improvement in their water and investment in their community (is something) they haven’t seen in some time.”

Maple said the county is still working on the sewer system, “and we hope to have sewer improvements in that area” down the road.

Commissioners, meanwhile, decided to have Arcadis do the design, bid work and construction-related services and final design phase for the Norton Hill water tank, which is located on state Route 43.

At last week’s meeting they’d believed only a task order capping costs at $110,000 would be needed since they’d approved a two-year extension to Arcadis’ general engineering agreement in January. While they’ve since learned the tank wasn’t part of the original contract, commissioners decided to ask Arcadis’ Tom Hartwig to do the work, opting not to put out a request for qualifications.

“He’ll start on the engineering piece of it (later this year), but we have a lot of other projects going on,” Maple said. “I imagine most of the project costs will fall into 2021.”

A report done by World Testing had suggested structural deficiencies, protective coating failures, critical section losses to structural members, and deficiencies related to safety, sanitary and operations and OSHA compliance need to be addressed.

William Holt, executive director of the Prevention and Recovery Board, thanked commissioners for the recent re-appointments of Joseph Colabella, Joseph Loizzo and Margaret Warren to the board, and asked them to consider appointing James Baber and Mark Mihalyo to fill vacancies. Both reside in Steubenville.

Mel Wood, a resident of county Road 16, urged commissioners to address issues with dead trees, saying there are “some 65- 70-feet tall (leaning at a) 30-degree angle…right up against the road.”

“All I’m asking is (for you guys) to have some input into a dangerous situation with some dead trees,” he said. “It’s going to happen, sooner or later. I’m scared to death someone is going to get killed or hurt really bad.”

Commissioners pointed out engineering and highways is a separate department.

County Engineer Jim Branagan said the department is currently focused on fixing road slips, which are numerous. He also pointed out the department “(has) a policy that we don’t cut trees in the (electrical) line.”

Commissioners concluded the session with closed-door meetings with Mike Zinno of the Development Disabilities Board, possible purchase of county property; Eroshevich, departmental wage and benefit negotiations; and Jefferson County Port Authority Incentives Manager Evan Scurti, possible sale of county property.

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