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Jefferson County Commissioners take a look at improvements

BRIEFING — Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. R.J. Bodo, right, briefs Jefferson County commissioners Thursday on a drunk and impaired driver initiative kicking off June 9. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Given the Towers building’s increasing prominence in the business community, Jefferson County commissioners Thursday made plans to make the outside look as good as the inside.

“We want to give our employees, tenants and public a clean, safe environment to both work and carry on their business,” Commissioner Tony Morelli said after the meeting. “Appearance is important and when complete, this will be one of the nicest buildings, inside and out, in our county seat, Steubenville.”

Morelli said several tenants have requested a security presence at the Towers, be it a deputy sheriff or private security. He said there was “some conversation” on the subject years ago, “but the sheriff thinks it’s certainly worth us revisiting.”

Commissioner Tom Graham said it’s worth looking at all the options, though he pointed out they looked at it before and even then, “It was very costly.”

“A private company wanted $18 an hour, per person, and you’d need at least two,” he recalled. “It would be costly to have deputies there as well. We do have deputies in the next building, at Job and Family Services — one proposal is to have a camera in the Towers building with a screen at Job and Family Services that deputies can monitor. The response time would be 30 seconds.”

Graham said commissioners would have to review all the options “and decide which route to take.”

Maintenance Supervisor Patrick Boyles told commissioners the lowest price quote he’d found for excavating the east parking lot had been $40,000, but with prices on the rise the price tag has jumped to about $50,000.

Boyles said he’d see if he can “squeeze them down” to get the price under the $50,000 benchmark for advertising projects.

“You’re still being responsible to the taxpayers and getting estimates all over the place, just not the cost of going through all the bidding,” Commissioner Dave Maple said, pointing out the $50,000 bidding threshhold “has been in place for how many years … It’s probably time to adjust it. It’s hard to do a project of any sort for less than $50,000.”

Boyles said the excavation contract would include removing “five foot of old (debris) and bringing in new fill.”

Morelli said it’s important to haul away the residues “and anything else we find buried, then put good fill on top before we put new blacktop on it.”

“Lots of stuff is buried under the lot that would make blacktop go bad in a short period of time,” he said.

While they can avoid bidding out the east lot excavation project, Boyles told them they won’t be so lucky when it comes time to pave: The lowest price quote he got was in the $85,000 range, he said.

Commissioners gave Boyles the go-ahead to advertise the paving contract, and also agreed to spend $11,200 on basic repairs to the fountain to the left of the main entrance.

“I think we should fix it,” Boyles said. “It’s a beautiful thing to have up front there. it really adds to the building, I think.”

The quote covers replacing the pumps and filter and getting it running, he said. “It doesn’t include if anything is wrong underground, like a broken pipe, or anything wrong with the pump itself. That would be additional … I know it’s kind of high, but that thing’s been sitting so long, I know it hasn’t run since I got here.”

“Typically, my position is we don’t have money for things like fountains, but that’s shortsighted because we do have people coming into our area,” Maple said. “We do have tourism, and it is the county seat, we’ve done with lights for buildings, to the front of our buildings, to improve the city and town here.”

“It does look nice,” Boyles agreed. “People are talking about the building, it’s looking really nice. People are wanting to rent space in it like crazy.”

Morelli said these are no ordinary times. “We’ve got funds to do this,” he said. “My thinking is we the fountain, getting the parking lot fixed, I’m all for that. Even without Social Secuity (being moved in), our parking lot was full yesterday at 11 a.m.”

Graham said a bank has expressed interest in locating in the Towers.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. R.J. Bodo, meanwhile, told commissioners troopers will be focusing on drunk and impaired drivers in coming weeks.

Bodo said beginning June 9, there will be an increased OSHP presence on state Route 7 each Thursday, Friday and Saturday from now through August.

“We want to make people aware there will be an increase of state troopers along Route 7,” he said. “There are all kinds of numbers that show a lot of issues around Jefferson County with drunk and impaired drivers — crashes, arrests we make, Narcan uses with the people we come across on the side of the road … We’re just reaching out to people. We’re trying to focus on taking care of some of these issues with drunk and impaired drivers.”

Bodo said they’ve teamed up with area recovery specialists so when they do make arrests, “we’re going to try and get them help.”

Commissioners, meanwhile, approved a 3 percent pay raise for non-bargaining unit employees at Jobs and Family Services.

“We’re talking about $35,000, a lot of that was paid for with state money,” Graham said. “It doesn’t come out of our general fund at all.”

About 15 employees are covered, JFS administrators said.

In other business, commissioners:

— Accepted the resignation of Kathy Teramana, administrative assistant with the Water and Sewer District, due to retirement. They’ll attempt to fill the position in-house before advertising it. Teramana’s last day will be Aug. 26.

— Awarded the contracts for the County Road 16 resurfacing to Shelly and Sands, Rayland, for $561,600, and for the services complex locker room to Buckeye Field Maintenance, Bloomingdale, for $259,950.

— Agreed to advertise the 2022 Ohio Public Works Commission Jefferson County Road 77 City of Steubenville-Sinclair Avenue and townships resurfacing project.

— Will schedule a viewing and hearing to evaluate a petition to vacate an unnamed alley in Salem township.

— Approved the Jobs and Family Services reclassification of Reno Tarquinio from the position of fiscal officer/supervisor to administrator, finance and contracts, effective June 13, and Matt Kendall from the position of human resources administrator to assistant director and human resources administrator, effective June 6..

County Engineer Jim Branagan told commissioners this week, his staff had focused on paver patching county Road 51 (Hollow Rock Road) and county Road 7F (Toronto-Empire Road), slip repairs and tree trimming on county Road 77 (Permars Run Road) and mowing.

Water and Sewer District Supervisor Mike Eroshevich said his water crews had focused on monitoring the water distribution system, cutting grass and completing work orders; repaired a 10-inch main line, Reeds Mill Hill; clean ups from previous leaks; installed a new tap on State Route 213; collected some lead and copper samples and mailed out bills. On the sewer side, workers focused on plant and collection system maintenance, cut grass and daily lab testing.

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