Formula Grant Recipients Chosen

Recipients of this year’s CDBG Formula Grant were chosen on May 7 during the Monroe County Commission-ers’ meeting. Fifteen projects from different organizations across the county were considered, but only four were chosen after a motion passed by the commissioners.

The chosen projects are as follows with funding in parentheses: paving of Main St. in Stafford ($34,000), water to Stafford Park ($4,100), installation of 12 fire hydrants in Switzerland Township ($17,300), and installation of a new HVAC system at the Monroe County Senior Center ($31,900).

Overall, the commissioners had $112,100 in CDBG funding to award this year. Due to new state regulations, only four projects could be chosen. In order to give Washington Township/Graysville Village a better shot at receiving the Community Block Grant, $10,000 was automatically allotted to a project in their community. This left only three projects to choose.

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State Owes Monroe County $184,000

The Monroe County Commissioners met for on April 30 with a full agenda. During the meeting, it was revealed the state of Ohio owes Monroe County approximately $184,000 for overpayment of Workman’s Comp for Monroe County EMS during the calendar years 2007-2009.

During the calendar years of 07-09, due to a state clerical error, the EMS Workman’s Comp bill was elevated to just over $91,000 compared to the roughly $28,000 they should have been billed. Despite efforts by county officials to point out the error at the time, they were forced to pay the elevated rate. Greg Jadwin contacted the state on behalf of the Monroe County EMS in 2010, and the rate was changed to normal levels after Jadwin persisted.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the overpayment is that it created a financial hardship for the EMS. Eighty percent of levy funds went strictly to pay the workman’s comp bill during the three years of overpayment, whereas, now only 24% of levy funds pay for Workman’s Comp. Further-more, the commissioners had to transfer funds to the EMS during those three years due to their limited funds.

The commissioners, at the urging of Jadwin, are now planning to ask the Ohio Bureau of Workman’s Comp for a refund of the over-payment. Commissioner John Pyles recommended the county send a letter through County Prosecutor James Peters requesting a refund from the state. The commissioners agreed that would be the best course of action. If nothing comes of the letter, they will contact state representatives and senators to seek a satisfactory result.

Also discussed during the meeting was the flood clean-up situation. As discussed in last week’s article, flood clean-up coordinator Chuck Roberts was ready to reach his allotted hours set by program limits. After a discussion held in executive session, the commissioners passed a motion to hire Roberts as a temporary, part-time county employee. Roberts will still serve the same position. He will be officially hired through the EMA office, but his salary will be paid 100% through flood clean-up funding. 

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Update on Tire Clean-Up in Perry Township

The Monroe County Commissioners met for their regular session meeting on April 23. Even though they began with a full agenda, little  business of consequence was completed.

The biggest action coming out of the meeting was the signing of a contract for tire clean-up in Perry Township. As previously reported in the Beacon, the county had received a $20,000 grant and a separate $40,000 grant to clean-up a massive tire dump near Antioch. An initial clean-up funded by the $20,000 grant removed more than 11,000 tires but “barely made a dent” in the pile according to Commission-er Carl Davis.

To finish the clean-up, the commissioners signed a contract on Monday with Campbell Scrap Tire Company of Zanesville, OH to remove the remaining tires. While the original clean-up was done by hand, Campbell Scrap Tire will use an excavator and trucks to clean-up the tires. Rob Reiter of Southeastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District said the process will go much quicker this time with Campbell’s equipment. A motion was passed for Campbell Scrap Tire to clean-up the tires as long as their total bill does not exceed the $40,000 grant. 

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County Negotiating With XTO

The Monroe County Commissioners met on April 9 for their regular session meeting. Attending the meeting was Cole Petty of XTO (an ExxonMobil affiliate). Petty met with the commissioners to discuss the leasing of mineral rights attached to county-owned land. Nearly 100 acres of mineral rights, previously tied-up in a lease agreement with Beck Energy, are in question.

According to Petty, XTO will soon begin a horizontal shale well near the Black Walnut Commerce Park. He said they have already chosen a well site and would like to involve the nearby county land as part of the area from which oil/gas will be extracted. There was some confusion about a portion of the mineral rights. Petty decided to come back at a later date to negotiate after the questions had been settled.

The theme of the day seemed to be technology improvements as multiple discussions were held on the topic.

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Parking Changes on Main St. in Woodsfield

Parking was the hot topic at the regular session of Woodsfield Village Council held on April 2. As a result of the meeting, there will be several changes in parking throughout the village.

After recommendations presented by the parking committee, a motion was passed to convert four parking spots to 15 minute parking. The cost to use the parking spots will be 25¢ per 15 minutes. These four spots will be located in front of Woodsfield Auto, Subway, Ace Hardware and the Courthouse. The parking committee recommended the changes in order to allow easier access to businesses.

Also passed was a motion to add a handicap spot on South Main St. in front of Rita’s Beauty Shop and Ida’s Lunchbox. Referencing the new 15 minute spots and handicap spot, councilman Bill Moore said, “I think we’re serving the public very well by doing this.” 

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MCHS Boys' Basketball Reins Handed to Lou "Scooter" Tolzda

Coach Lou "Scooter" TolzdaLou “Scooter” Tolzda will man the sidelines for Monroe Central High School’s basketball program next season. Tolzda comes to MCHS via Beallsville High School where he led the boys’ varsity team to an 18-3 record last season.

Coach Tolzda, who has already met with players, said, “I’m really excited about it. I think the kids are excited about it. I think we can put a good product on the floor.” Tolzda said he and many of the kids are familiar with one another from his days as gym teacher at Woodsfield Elementary. Tolzda also said he is familiar with many of the families in the Woodsfield/Skyvue area. 

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Monroe County 911 Issues Discussed

The Monroe County Commissioners met in regular session April 2 with multiple orders of business to discuss.

Matt Brake, the county’s 911 coordinator; Sheriff Chuck Black; and EMS Coordinator Dave Kuhn met with the commissioners to discuss issues with 911. After an update was given by Brake, Sheriff Black said he believes there are too many irons in the fire and nothing is getting done because of it. Commissioner Tim Price said he believed Brake needed directions on what the priorities are to be. Sheriff Black responded, “My first and only concern is getting first responders to the location [of a 911 call].”

Sheriff Black’s main concerns revolved around two issues. He said he doesn’t understand why more information doesn’t come from the 911 system fax when first responders are notified. Sheriff Black explained that all that comes out is name and address.

He mentioned that other counties have GPS coordinates and mapping on such reports. It was discussed that the 911 system would need upgraded to accommodate such options, but the exact cost is unknown. Brake said he would look into it. Kuhn recommended checking with Belmont County on their capabilities because their reports print out turn-by-turn directions.

Sheriff Black also discussed the need for standardized house number signs. He said his officers cannot find a house number and must knock on two or three doors before finding the correct residence. Kuhn said EMS faces similar situations. Sheriff Black questioned if it was possible to mandate signs for every home. The commissioners said it would be best to discuss the issue with County Prosecutor James Peters.

As a result of several open issues, it was established that more regular meetings were needed to discuss 911. A work session to discern the priorities was set to be scheduled within the week. It was also discussed that 911 should have a monthly presence on the commissioners’ meeting agenda, but no time was set. 

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John Street Discussed Again

The Woodsfield Village Council met on March 19 to discuss multiple orders of business. In a continuation of past business that had seemingly been settled, John St. (that turns off Hancock St.) was discussed again. Paul and Debbie Howell, whose property borders the street, came before council to ask why the street had not yet been installed and opened.

After some initial confusion on the topic, Village Administrator Rick Schuerman said the surveying had been completed. According to Schuerman, the only thing holding up the process was that the property owner on the opposite side of John St. had yet to remove his lawn ornaments from the roadway. Schuerman said he would contact the property owner again about removing the items (which includes a large, decorative stone). 

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River Bids Come in Over Budget

 

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Board of Education met on March 15 for its regular session meeting. Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the meeting was what did not take place.

Automated calls had gone out to parents and staff on March 13 saying the school board would not be making a decision on the Skyvue Elementary building project during the meeting. Keeping to their word, the board began the meeting by striking item 15A off the agenda which read, “Consider approving construction option for Skyvue Elementary.” The decision has been tabled while State Rep. Andy Thompson (93rd District) seeks funding to cover the extra costs of renovation. Superintendent Larry Elliott commented on the motion to table the Skyvue decision. In reference to the threat of rising construction costs if the project faces more delays, Elliott said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t stress that time is money. I urge the board to consider revisiting the issue soon.”

While the Skyvue decision was tabled, much of the discussion during the meeting did revolve around the various construction projects throughout the district. Brett Hendricks of BSHM architects and John Jefferis, project manager from PCS, gave a status report of several projects.

Jefferis reported they had opened bids for River earlier that day. He said, “We’re going back and evaluating the numbers, but unfortunately we were over budget. Most of it was the general trades portion of the work. Everything else looked good.” Jefferis said they are in conversation with the low bidders and trying to figure out what they can do. Hendricks said, “At this point, because where we are economically, there have to be discussions with the state and the school district to see what the resolution is.”

Jefferis said the projects at Monroe Central and Woodsfield Elementary are ongoing and crews are working inside painting. He said finishing work will soon follow. According to Jefferis, MCHS is lagging somewhat behind WES, but they were hoping to get the last section enclosed and put the roof on within the next two weeks if the weather cooperates. Jefferis projected WES would be finished in time for the next school year, but MCHS would not be completed until September/October.

Washington Township Meetings Set to Discuss Grant

What could your community do with $300,000? The residents of Washington Township and the Village of Graysville will find out at two meetings to be held in April. The Monroe County Commissioners, along with OSU Extension, will help citizens understand the application process for the CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) program. Under the NR program, citizens from the area will be asked to come up with at least five activities to address the community’s needs.

Monroe County will compete with other counties to be one of 10 applications funded through the program. Mary Jo Westfall, OSU Extension,  stressed the need for citizens to attend the two public hearings scheduled. “One of the scoring categories for the application process is called ‘citizens participation’. Our score in this category depends on the number of citizens that come to the two public meetings. We really need a good turnout.” The meetings are scheduled for Sat., April 14 and Sat. April 28, both at the Graysville VFD Firehouse. Both events will start with a fundraising dinner sponsored by the Graysville VFD at 5 p.m. with the meetings starting at 6 p.m.

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