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Commissioners divvy up recreation funds for villages, townships

REPORT TIME — Jefferson County Juvenile and Probate Court Administrator Joseph Colabella appeared before the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners Thursday. One of the items he presented was the annual report for the two courts and the juvenile detention portion of the Jefferson County Justice Center. -- Andrew Grimm

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham called approving requests for recreation funds “one of the great things we get to do.”

Thursday morning, the commissioners got to do that task, reviewing requests and approving villages, townships and other entities for $195,240 of permissive tax dollars for recreation.

“Having $200,000 to work with is one of the highest totals I’ve seen in terms of recreation dollars,” Graham said.

The largest request came from Amsterdam, which was approved for $30,000 for upgrades to the village’s park.

It was noted the request for so much more than the other villages — a lot of which received approval for $10,000 or less — has to do with the county’s sewer project that has been going on in the area for more than a year.

“We’ve disrupted that community with that project,” Commissioner Dave Maple said. “The idea of them having a new sewer system and some good recreation opportunities, it should be a good year for Amsterdam. This will be really beneficial to that community.

“This should be a good year for recreation. This year is a post-COVID year.”

It was noted that a building constructed as part of the project is adjacent to the park and one of the walking trails at the park goes past the structure.

“We wanted to make a special effort to fix it right,” Commissioner Tony Morelli said.

The Jefferson County Agriculture Society was approved for $25,000 for the county fair, while Steubenville, Toronto, Island Creek Township, Salem Township, Smithfield Township, Warren Township, Mount Pleasant, New Alexandria, Richmond and Yorkville each were awarded $10,000.

Cross Creek Township, Ross Township, Saline Township, Steubenville Township, Wayne Township, the Village of Bergholz, the Village of Bloomingdale and the Village of Dillonvale each received between $3,000 and $8,000.

Also noted was the fact that several entities did not submit requests, including Wintersville and Mingo Junction.

“I’m a little surprised by some of the communities that did not submit requests,” Maple said. “It is a good way to help their communities. Because of that, we were probably able to give a little bit more to the communities that did make requests. There will be some very, very small amounts of recreation monies left over, so (entities) can still communicate with us and see what is left.”

Graham noted that all the communities are sent a letter notifying them they need to submit requests.

Morelli said the monies will be a help to communities as activities begin to pick back up as the pandemic restrictions ease.

“I think it’s great that we’re coming off of COVID and swimming pools are opening, baseball fields are back open,” Morelli said. “A lot of these were for dugouts and fences for little leagues and stuff for swimming pools. It’s a positive thing.”

Following a couple items being discussed in regard to projects for the county Engineer’s Department, Eric Hilty of the office was asked about the ongoing dispute with Ascent Resources in regards to road use maintenance agreements for well pads off of county Road 17.

The dispute has been a re-occurring topic dating back several months when a Zoom call was held to discuss concerns about an S-curve on the road.

Hilty told the commissioners as of Thursday the matter had not been settled, and the engineer’s office is waiting to receive correspondence from the company, which, he said, will be coming soon.

Ascent is operating on one well pad with an amended RUMA, but is seeking one for a second well pad in the same area Hilty said traffic has started to without an amended RUMA.

Maple cautioned that the commissioners were only hearing the engineer’s side and Ascent’s explanations probably differ.

Hilty also noted that the office has not had any issues with any other locations Ascent is working in the county and is optimistic that an agreement can be reached because of the otherwise good relationship the county has had with the company.

Juvenile and Probate Court administrator Joseph Colabella appeared at the meeting, seeking approval for a contract to house juveniles from Mercer County, Pa., in the detention center and presenting the annual report for the courts.

The contract was approved, and Colabella was praised for the detail in his report, including trend lines to compare data last year to previous years.

Also noteworthy:

– The commissioners approved two contracts for road re-surfacing projects and one guardrail replacement for the engineer’s office. Three bids were received for a project to resurface county Road 30, ranging between $445,436 and $510,489.13, all three below the estimate of $510,554. Three bids were also received for a project to re-surface county Road 39 ranging from $610,295-$732,132, with the estimate being $696,501. Two bids were received to replace guardrails, they were $122,611.88 and $133,740, with the estimate at $129,176.50.

– While county Dog Warden Chad Coyle was giving his monthly report, it was noted by Graham he and Coyle had met in regards to the proposed contract from the Humane Society in regards to the county animal shelter. Graham noted Coyle’s input was valuable and a counter proposal to be sent back to the Humane Society should be available for Morelli and Maple to review next week.

– There will be a meeting with county Auditor E.J. Conn following next week’s meeting about to the American Rescue Plan funds. It was noted Conn was at a county auditor’s conference during which there will be guidance from Ohio Auditor Kieth Faber.

– The newly formed diversity committee, it was announced, will hold its first meeting at 11 a.m. on June 24 inside the commission office.

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