Aftermath of Storm Discussed

 

EMA Coordinator Phil Keevert met with the Monroe County commissioners on Mon., July 9 to discuss the aftermath of the June 29 storm. Much of Keevert’s conversation revolved around the good and the bad parts of the county’s disaster preparedness.

Keevert was keen to thank the commissioners for their support. “I felt like I was supported 100% by this office,” he said. The commissioners commended Keevert for all he had done during the disaster. Commissioner Carl Davis said to Keevert, “I personally feel you need to be commended for the job you did.”

Keevert and the commissioners also discussed problems they faced in disaster response. One issue was the lack of response from Red Cross. It was noted in the discussion that the local chapter had closed and the closest chapter is now in Morgantown, WV.

In the beginning, Keevert said he was told by Red Cross officials that there were too many issues in West Virginia for them to help Monroe County. Later on, as they began to help, they showed up hours late for appointments as volunteers waited in the heat for their arrival. In the end, the organization did help send some aide, the most appreciated being 400 cases of MREs.

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Storm Causes Damage, Knocks Out Power

 

Damage was widespread across the area after a devastating windstorm came through on Fri., June 29. Fallen trees blocked most area roadways for several hours, and many homes and businesses suffered damage as a result of hurricane-force winds.

By early Saturday morning, Ohio Governor John Kasich had declared a statewide state of emergency after 2/3 of the state was drastically affected by the storms. On the heals of that announcement came a declaration of emergency for Ohio from President Obama. The declaration authorized FEMA “to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures.”

The Monroe County Commissioners had a special session meeting on Sat., June 30. During the meeting, they declared Monroe County as in a State of Emergency. As part of the resolution, it was stated, “All public offices and employees of Monroe County are hereby directed to exercise the utmost diligence in the discharge of duties required of them for the duration of the emergency.”

Beyond the damage from the storm, the majority of local residents were affected most by power outages.  As of press time on Mon., July 2, an estimated 1035 of South Central Power’s 4913 customers in Monroe County were still without power. When asked about how long the outages would continue, Lisa Hooker, Director of Communications with South Central Power said, “We’re thinking 3-4 days [from Monday] for the majority of our customers.” Hooker also said that, at the height of the outages, 52,000 of the company’s 113,000 in 24 Ohio counties were without power.

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Power Outage Update From Washington Electric Cooperative

The following information comes via a press release from Washington Electric Cooperative Incorporated on July 3, 2012.

Washington Electric Cooperative restored service to approximately 250 members Tuesday, with efforts continuing to restore power to the remaining 5,250 members still in the dark as a result of the June 29 wind storm.

Specific trouble areas include the Dart, Rinard Mills and South Olive substations, which have been without transmission service since the storms. All co-op crews are working on outage restoration, and additional crews from electric cooperatives in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, as well as contract crews, have been providing assistance.

 

Co-op officials are hopeful that most members will have power restored by the weekend, but caution that it could be as late as next Tuesday (July 10) for some members in outlying areas.

 

 

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Monroe Manor Changes Mean Loss of Housing For Some Current Residents

The Monroe County Commissioners had a full agenda on June 25. A large chunk of the meeting was taken up by discussion of a contentious issue at Monroe Manor Apartments.

Monroe Manor resident Bob Ault and several other residents and area senior citizens attended the meeting. Also present was property manager Jodee Lude and vice president of the soon-to-be ownership group Roy Lowenstein.

The issue brought up by Ault is centered around the transition to new ownership and what that means for Monroe Manor’s residents. Under current ownership, led by Max Fliehman and Show Limited, the property follows USDA Rural Development regulations. Under the new ownership taking effect in August, led by the nonprofit group Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and several other investors, the property will follow guidelines of the Federal Housing Tax Credit Program.

Under the Tax Credit Program, the maximum income eligibility guidelines are lower. With the new guidelines, it was discovered that three residents (one single and one couple) did not qualify due to their income. Those residents received a notice that they would have to vacate the property in the near future and search for new housing.

Roy Lowenstein said of the discovery, “The over income situation is very unusual. I’m still looking into it. We’re trying to determine what legal obligations we have to the one, possibly two, households that are over income.” According to Lowenstein, the new ownership group has to follow the rules of the federal program they operate under. If regulations are not followed, the ownership group would lose $100,000 on the unit housing those not meeting eligibility requirements. 

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Fatality on SR 78

The St. Clairsville post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal accident that occurred on State Route 78 near milepost 23, close to Woodsfield on June 13.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. troopers responded to the scene of a one-vehicle fatal accident. The investigation revealed the driver, John Paulus, 59, of Woodsfield was driving a 2001 Ford Windstar westbound on SR78 when it struck Derek Roberton, 32 years old, of Clarington, who was lying in the roadway. Alcohol is not suspected as a contributing factor in the accident for the driver, but alcohol is suspected for the pedestrian.

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Eclipse Resources Seeks Mineral Rights Agreement With County

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting on June 11 began with a conversation about oil and gas. Brett Marlow of Eclipse Resources (owned by Rex Energy Corporation) met with the commissioners to discuss the possibility of a lease agreement on a small portion of county land.

Eclipse Resources currently has plans in the works to drill horizontal shale wells on a 640 acre unit of land in Green and Lee Townships, which the company has dubbed the Tippins Tract. They are still in the preliminary phase and have gone through the permit process in order to drill vertically to test the strata in the area.

Included in the tract would be .52 acres of which it is certain the county owns the mineral rights. Also included is 6.29 acres of road in Green Township. Marlow said the company is searching records to determine who owns the mineral rights to the land under the roadway. The commissioners commented that the mineral rights likely stayed with the previous landowners when easements and right-of-ways were established. However, it is possible that some or all of the mineral rights associated with the 6.29 acres would be owned by the county or by Green Township.

Marlow told the commissioners that the official offer from the company would be their standard deal which is a five year agreement in the amount of $4250 per acre plus 20% royalties.  At that rate, the county would make anywhere from $2507.50 to $29,240 plus royalties on a deal depending on how much of the mineral rights are owned. County Prosecutor James Peters sat in on the meeting and will review the lease agreement if the county decides to sign. 

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School Buildings Auctioned

An auction of schools in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District, which are being replaced by new or renovated buildings, was the topic at a special meeting of the school board June 4. After the meeting was called to order, board members went into executive session.

As a result of that session, the board approved the bids received June 2 for the following schools:

Beallsville schools were purchased by Bob Smothers for $20; Cameron by Emery Rothenbuhler & Sons, $52,000; Woodsfield Elementary, JERU Real Estate, $130,000; Woodsfield High and lots across the street from the school, Gary Rubel, $5,500; Powhatan Elementary, Powhatan Revitalization Association, $100; Hannibal Elementary, Ron Isaly, $156,000; Sardis Elementary, Lee Township Trustees, $72,000.

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Relay For Life of Monroe County Set For June 1 & 2

“There’s no place like HOPE” is not only the theme of the 2012 Relay For Life of Monroe County, but also the theme many live by while fighting the horrible disease of cancer that takes too much. This year’s theme goes along with the “Wizard of Oz” and hundreds of community members will take part in this year’s version of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) signature fundraising event. The event is back at Shadow Lake RV Resort and Campground and there are many new exciting things going on this year.

The event will run on a different time schedule, beginning at noon on Friday, June 1, as opposed to the normal 6 p.m. start time. It will remain an 18-hour event, which will close at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Following is a brief look at this year’s event schedule:

10 a.m., Flag raising, registration and campsites open; 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Community luncheon with survivors eating free; 1 p.m. Opening ceremonies (National Anthem and opening remarks); 1:10 p.m., Survivor lap, followed by the caregiver lap and team lap with banners; 2 p.m., Silent Auction begins, Marco Polo competition; cornhole tournament begins; 3 p.m., water balloon volleyball; 4-5:30 p.m., Rockin’ River on stage; 5-7 p.m., Community Chicken Dinner; 5:30 p.m. Scavenger hunt; 6 p.m., One-A-Chord on stage; 7 p.m., Purse auction, photo booth opens; 8-9 p.m. Longreach Bluegrass on stage;

Assistant Superintendent Hired in SOLSD

Personnel decisions headlined the Switzerland of Ohio Local School board meeting on May 16. Perhaps the most awaited announcement was who would be named as Assistant Superintendent. After a lengthy executive session, Skyvue Principal Neil Ritchie was hired for the position. Ritchie has been in the SOLSD for years serving as principal at Skyvue and Powhatan elementaries and as teacher at Woodsfield Elementary.

Current Assistant Superintendent George Richardson will retire effective June 20. Superintendent Larry Elliott said of Richardson, “He’s a quality individual and its been my pleasure to know him. It’s been a blessing for me and a good work experience. He’s been a great mentor.” Richard-son was presented with a plaque to commemorate his service.

The other position filled during the meeting was that of River High School principal. Hired to replace Dr. Monseau was Ed Trifonoff. Trifonoff taught the 2011-12 school year at Swiss Hills Career Center. He was also the RHS varsity baseball coach.

In other business, a progress report was given by Project Manager John Jefferis on the ongoing construction projects. Jefferis said the Woodsfield Elementary building is fully in the finishing stage. He described it by saying, “We are putting the icing on the cake at WES right now.”

Jefferis described the Monroe Central High School building by saying, “At Monroe Central, we’re finishing the baking.” Jefferis gave a September time frame of finishing construction. While WES is set to open for the new school year, Jefferis said MCHS is likely not to be ready until “October at the earliest.”

Woodsfield EMS Takes Steps to Begin Paid Service

EMS Coordinator Dave Kuhn and EMS President Jay Chaplin met with the Monroe County Commissioners during their May 14 meeting to further discuss paid service at Woodsfield EMS. The possibility had been brought up by Kuhn in recent months due to the difficulty Woodsfield EMS is having in staffing runs during the day. Kuhn said having two people on staff during a day-shift of 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. would likely solve the staffing issues. Even though it is adding paid staff, it is likely the arrangement would cost the EMS less money since volunteers are paid a stipend on a per-run basis.

Kuhn reported that the EMS association had come up with salaries for the positions: $10 per hour for a basic EMT and $11 per hour for an Advanced Life Support-trained EMT. Chaplin presented the commissioners with a full report of where the squad runs are going in the county and what time of the day. It was noted that Woodsfield EMS had handled around 90% of the runs they were called out on up until January when the figure began to dip to below 80%. Chaplin said most of the runs that were not responded to by Woodsfield EMS were during the day shift. 

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