Davey Crawford Light Pole Will Be Installed in South Island of Square

The long, twisty path followed by Woodsfield’s Davey Crawford pole has finally seen the pole meander back to its original spot, or at least a few feet from its original spot. During the Sept. 2 Woodsfield Village Council meeting, members of council voted to move the pole, which had been removed from its original location in the center of the square in the middle of the night years ago, to the South island of the square.

The Davey Crawford pole had recently been refurbished at no cost to the village [a savings of $5,000-$6,000] by Pioneer Pipe of Marietta. Throughout the process, Councilwoman Carol Hehr had plans to install the pole in the South island once it was finished. Measurements by Village Administrator Rick Schuerman indicated there would be plenty of space for the pole to be installed in the island. However, during the July 7 council meeting, Hehr’s motion to place the pole in the island failed after some council members expressed concerns over it fitting in its location as well as whether or not it would be a traffic hazard.

Flash forward to Sept. 2, and Hehr presented her fellow council members with correspondence between her and Ohio Department of Transportation engineer Eric Davis. Davis expressed that he was not concerned with the light dimensions as long as the base was four feet from the face of the curb, which was confirmed by measurements. Davis also said an expensive break-a-way base was not needed at the location.

After giving members of council the time to look at the correspondence, Hehr made a motion to place the Davey Crawford pole in the South island of the square. The motion was seconded by Councilman Bill Moore. During discussion Councilman Matt Vinskovich asked that a condition be added that if the pole is hit, council would consider a new location for it. The motion passed with Hehr, Vinskovich, Moore and Councilman Mike Cox voting “yes.” Councilman Dale English voted “no,” and Councilman Rick Shipp abstained. 

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School District, OAPSE Agrees to New Two-Year Contract

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) Board of Education met for its monthly regular session meeting on Aug. 27. Highlighting a largely uneventful meeting was a contract renewal with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) union and a new policy in regards to movies shown in the classroom.

The contract with OAPSE is actually considered a two-year agreement, but expires on Dec. 31 of 2015. OAPSE employees have been working since Dec. 31, 2013 with no new contract while negotiations were underway. The new contract includes an insurance concession from the union.

Under the previous contract, employees working a minimum of 20 hours per week had full insurance benefits. Under the new contract, that minimum is upped to 30 hours per week. “That will add but to substantial savings for the district moving forward,” said SOLSD Treasurer Lance Erlwein. Erlwein added that the concession brings the district more in line with the private sector and aligns with standards from the Affordable Care Act. Current employees will be grand-fathered in, with new employees being the only ones affected by the change. 

County Considering Ramifications of Creating One Secured Entrance at Courthouse

The Monroe County Commissioners are setting out to make the courthouse more secure, and the first steps were taken to do so during their Aug. 25 regular session meeting. In recent weeks, several executive sessions have been held between commissioners, Sheriff Charles Black Jr.,  Prosecuting Attorney James Peters, Common Pleas Judge Julie Selmon, County Court Judge Jim Peters, and Juvenile and Probate Judge Clifford Sickler in regards to courthouse security. Now, commissioners have enrolled the help of David Haught of DLH Design to discuss the possibility of completing a feasibility study about creating a single secure entrance.

According to the conversation with Haught, commissioners are considering the possibilities of closing all courthouse entrances except for one to the public. That entrance would then be guarded during business hours, and courthouse visitors would be required to enter through a metal detector. Such a measure would put the Monroe County Courthouse security on par with Belmont and Jefferson counties. Currently Noble and Washington counties have a similar set-up as Monroe with no secured entrance.

Haught told commissioners he has guided such changes in other courthouses but that Monroe County has a unique set-up. “You have an interesting situation with the number of public entrances you have here,” Haught said.

Haught said the following things must be determined before initiating such a project: 1. The primary entrance must be designated, 2. The type of security station to install must be decided upon, 3. The public must be educated on what changes are being made and why, and 4. It must be determined who must enter through the secured entrance and whether or not a separate key-card entrance will be open to courthouse employees.

Commissioner John Pyles commented that he is hoping for “the most economical solution with the nicest appearance.” Commissioners and Haught toured the courthouse to determine the possibilities. 

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Clarington's Tame Deer Killed by Division of Wildlife Officer

Several Clarington residents were saddened by the killing of a tame buck in the village by the Ohio Division of Wildlife on Aug. 12. The death of the deer ends what had become a very publicized situation.

Clarington resident Trina Heslep said of the deer, “I don’t know of anyone in town who hasn’t come in contact with him.” The deer had been around town for four to five months and was tame enough to pet.

“He was very tame, very nice, very gentle around the kids. But, I know he wouldn’t have stayed that way, that he would’ve gotten ornery or possibly aggressive during the rut,” said Heslep. 

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Ormet Officially Done in Hannibal as Niagara Worldwide Takes Over

Niagara Worldwide officially took ownership of the former Ormet Corp. aluminum reduction plant in Hannibal on Thurs., July 31. The changeover marks the end of Ormet Corp., its longtime status as a top Monroe County employer, and the jobs of the handful of employees that had made it through all layoffs.

Niagara Worldwide purchased the Ormet Corp. facility in Hannibal on June 27 for the amount of $25.25 million. The sale was later approved by bankruptcy court.

Through a release submitted to PRWeb, Niagara Worldwide has stated efforts to promote the facility to aluminum manufacturers. Following are two excerpts from that release:

“We are talking to the World,” says Eric J Spirtas, President of both Niagara Worldwide (site developer) and Hannibal Development Partners (the new site owner). “In an effort to determine global interest in this specialized facility, we are communicating with every aluminum related business group worldwide to share with them what sets here in Hannibal.”

Spirtas also mentioned a possibly larger site opportunity unrelated to the aluminum market. “We are in negotiations with three very large oil and gas service providers that work hand-in-hand with the oil drilling, gas processing and fuel transportation markets now imbedded in this region due to the Utica and Marcellus shale exploration.” If this effort works for the site there could be multiple uses for the 12 miles of rail, 50 barge docking port and pneumatic loading and unloading systems at the site.

To view the PRWeb release in its entirety, go to: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12068210.htm

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EPA Report on Eisenbarth Well Pad Fire Released

Released last week was the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report on the results of the accidental Eisenbarth well pad fire. The report reveals that several chemicals leaked into local streams during the fire and that a total of at least 14,500 aquatic animals were killed as a result.

At the time of the fire, over 16 different chemicals were staged on the well pad. Those materials listed in the report were: diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, motor oil, hydorcholoric acid, cesium-137 sources, hydrotreated light petroleum distillates, terpenes, terpenoids, isoproponal, ethylene glycol, paraffinic solvents, sodium persulfate, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride and “proprietary components.” Also stated in the report was, “As a result of fire-fighting efforts and flow back from the well head, significant quantities of water and unknown quantities of products on the well pad left the site and entered an unnamed tributary of Opossum Creek that ultimately discharges to the Ohio River.”

Water samples of the runoff found TPH, 2-butanone, acetone, benzene, tehylbenzene, xylenes, toluene, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, phenanthrene, pyrene, phenol and clorides in the water.

On June 29, the day after the fire,  a fish kill was discovered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife in Opossum Creek and its unnamed tributary. Initial estimates from ODNR had the fish kill at around 70,000, a number that was frequently reported through various local media outlets.

In the days following June 30, a collection was made of the aquatic life that had been found dead in the creeks. By the end of the collection, 11,116 dead fish of 20 different species were found as well as 3,519 crustaceans, seven frogs and 20 salamanders. The collection of the dead wildlife ended on July 5. 

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SOLSD Finalizes Levy Plans, Issues at BHS Discussed

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) Board of Education held its regular session meeting on Tues., July 15 at 7 a.m. During the meeting, the board approved the final levy resolution, making it a certainty that the district will seek additional levy funding this November. The ballot language has been decided, and the board will seek a five-year 1% earned income tax levy.

In a large expenditure, the board approved the purchase of new reading and literature textbooks for grades K-8 in the district. The books came at the total cost of $208,546.38. “The one-time oil and gas revenues the district collected last year allowed us to make these critical upgrades in our curriculum,” said SOLSD Treasurer Lance Erlwein. The purchase came after administrators and the board recognized the need to take a step forward in improving curriculum district wide.

As has been the case recently, several community members from the Beallsville area attended, and issues at the school were a much discussed topic.

During his remarks, Superintendent John Hall said that he has received a number of phone calls and questions regarding classroom scheduling at Beallsville High School (BHS). Hall commended the BHS staff and said that next school year’s scheduling is completed. He then turned to BHS Principal Rebecca Hilverding to elaborate on the upcoming class schedule.

Hilverding said that her goal was to align the class schedule at BHS with the rest of the district. She also noted that BHS has new courses, such as economics, not even offered at the district’s other two high schools. Hilverding said dual enrollment courses will be offered during the first two periods of the day. Dual enrollment classes, funded through the Straight A Grant recently received by the district, allow students to take classes via video conference from Ohio University Eastern and earn college credit.

Those in attendance from the Beallsville area, including public participant Larry Stukey, asked about the district’s progress in hiring a curriculum director. Superintendent Hall said the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center (ESC) is working on filling the position. He said board members Ron Winkler, Dave Matz and Jackie Hupp have all contacted ESC Superintendent Chris Keylor to emphasize the importance of the district filling the position. 

Commissioners Continue to Explore Financial Ramifications of Building a New County Jail

County officials continue to investigate the feasibility of building a new jail for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. According to the latest numbers, the proposed project would likely be able to be completed without requesting a bond levy from the taxpayers of the county.

Reporting to the Monroe County Commissioners during their regular session meeting on July 14 were Sheriff Charles Black Jr.; Prosecuting Attorney James Peters; Rebecca Princehorn, Public Finance Lawyer with Bricker & Eckler; and Joseph Robertson IV, Director of Ohio Public Finance with Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, LLC.  Prosecuting Attorney Peters noted that the meeting was about exploring “what the county can or can’t afford” and “what size of facility the county can afford to operate.”

After Robertson presented projected operating costs for a 52 bed facility, a 88 bed facility or a 112 bed facility, Sheriff Black noted that the cost of housing prisoners in other counties’ facilities was not deducted from the overall operating costs. He said the county is projected to spend upwards of $400,000 this year in prisoner housing and has spent over $250,000 each year in recent years.

Sheriff Black also noted that those figures do not count overtime or fuel costs involved in transporting prisoners to other counties. He said he spent above $7,000 in overtime salary last month with a normal month being $3,000 to $4,000.

Commissioner (and former Monroe County Sheriff) Tim Price said, “What’s upsetting is when you look back and see how much money has been spent [in prisoner housing and transport].

Also discussed was the fact that the county often does not jail people who, under normal circumstances, would be jailed. This happens because the cost can be high or there simply is not room at any local jails to place someone. “These sorts of things have been going on for years,” said Commissioner Price.  Because of those issues, Sheriff Black and Prosecuting Attorney Peters both stated their opinion that a new jail for the county is necessary.

After the discussion, commissioners agreed to discontinue the exploration of building a 112 bed facility. The 52 bed facility and 88 bed facility are each still being considered. Robertson was directed to bring back new figures with the costs of housing and transporting prisoners deducted as operational savings.

Also meeting with commissioners was Jeanette Harter in regards to the 2015 county budget. Harter reported that the requests have been submitted. General fund requests for 2015 add up to $5,947,112.78. This is in excess by $664,487.58 of the projected revenue in 2015 of $5,282,625.20. Requests for other funds also came in slightly above the projected 2015 revenue of $16,054,192.86.   

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Davey Crawford Light Pole Still Without a Home; WVFD May Be Reimbursed For Damaged Equipment

Woodsfield's historic Davey Crawford light pole continues to find itself in limbo after recent events had made it appear that the pole would soon be in a new home. In recent weeks, Pioneer Pipe of Marietta had refurbished the light pole at no cost to the Village. Although no formal motion was ever made, discussion by council had referred to one of the islands in the main square as a new home for the pole.

During the regular session meeting of Woodsfield Village Council on July 7, Councilwoman Carol Hehr reported that Light Plant Superintendent Floyd Longwell had measured and believed the pole could go into one of the islands with two foot of clearance on either side to avoid being hit by traffic. After the report Councilwoman Hehr motioned to install the pole in one of the islands as long as it had the aforementioned two feet of space on either side.

A long pause followed before Councilman Bill Moore finally seconded Hehr's motion. During discussion, Councilman Dale English said he believed someone from the village needed to talk to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) before placing the pole there. English said past conversations about the pole being installed in the square had led to ODOT telling the village the pole must have a special break-a-way base.

Councilman Rick Shipp expressed that he didn't believe Longwell's measurements were accurate. He referenced that Village Administrator Rick Schuerman had measured and had said it would be a "tight fit." He said he believed placing the pole in front of the Hollister Parry House Museum, a back-up plan stated by Hehr, would be a better option.

A vote was taken after the discussion. With Councilman Matt Vinskovich absent, councilmen Shipp, English and Mike Cox voted "no." Councilwoman Hehr and Councilman Moore voted "yes." After the failed vote, Hehr said, "You want it somewhere where people can see it." She referenced its historical value to the town (dating back to the 1940s) and asserted that she would be bringing the issue up again at a later date.

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Woodsfield Man Participates in D-Day Ceremonies, Meets Three Presidents in One Week

Herman Zerger is pictured with former President Bill Clinton.Herman Zerger, one of Monroe County’s most decorated veterans, is accustomed to receiving honors. However, his whirlwind week in early June even came as a surprise to the WWII vet and former prisoner of war.

Beginning with the D-Day ceremonies in France on June 6, and culminating at the Ohio Democratic Dinner on June 13, Zerger met three presidents in a week’s time. Two were United States presidents (current President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton) with the third being French President Francois Hollande.

Zerger’s journey began on June 6 when he traveled to Pointe Du Hoc and Sainte Marie du Mont in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion which saw Allied troops begin the push (at great loss of lives) on the Western front to take back Europe. It was Zerger’s eighth time to attend D-Day ceremonies in France, but it was also his most memorable.

Zerger was designated as one of only eight veterans who greeted President Obama as he stepped off the helicopter upon arrival. The President smiled at him and shook his hand upon disembarking. “When he shook my hand I felt something, and he had presented me with the presidential coin,” said Zerger.

At the ceremonies, as President Obama and other world leaders spoke, Zerger was given a seat of honor in the front row. As the ceremony ended, he again shook the President’s hand and briefly met French President Hollande who thanked all the U.S. veterans at the ceremony. 

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