Tourism Council to take over I-70 site

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County Commissioners heard updates from the village of Bellaire and the Tourism Council during their Wednesday meeting.

Dan Marling, Bellaire village administrator, introduced himself to commissioners and reviewed the village’s progress and plans and hopes for cooperation with the county and school systems.

He added that Bellaire has many active citizens groups such as the Citizens Advisory Committee, the chamber of commerce, and the Stone Viaduct Education Society.

“We have very vibrant organizations within our village,” he said.

Marling noted ongoing projects such as the search for vehicles to support the service department. He added that Bellaire enjoys positive relationships with agencies such as the county water treatment plant. He said the village extends its offer to cooperate in county projects.

“We’re looking forward to some good things in Bellaire,” he said.

In other matters, Tourism Director Doc Householder gave a quarterly tourism report. He noted he was given permission to take over the I-70 West Tourist Center. The tourism board approved taking over the site. He noted that all centers in the state were set to close and the management of them has been offered to locals.

In answer to criticism from visitors, Householder said funding would come from a 3-percent motel bed tax on travelers through the county.

Citizens questioned the need for the site’s maintenance. Householder said the county’s primary tourism attractions were located in the Barnesville area where the Tourist Center was located.

The commissioners agreed that while the expense would not affect residents directly, it would take funding from other tourism projects.

“For the record, the commissioners did not agree with this decision. We did not feel that it was the productive use of the bed tax,” said Commissioner Ginny Favede, adding that they were the only tourism board that took on the responsibility. She added that the sites were not going to be shut down, but shifted to automated media. Householder said an automated system would result in costs to continue to stock the site with brochures.

In other matters, Householder reported on activities that took place October through December. These included taking over planning of the BC Rubberneck Tour and participation in a Civil War Celebration at Salem Cemetery. Ohio 331 may be designated a scenic byway.

The Tourism Council may also take over the former sheriff’s residence. An additional grant has been secured to finish the second floor. The council’s office will be moved to the residence when work is complete.

America’s Veterans Traveling Tribute will visit Barnesville in 2014. The council donated $5,000 to secure the exhibit.

In other matters, Favede was authorized to execute pay applications to Chambers Murphy and Burge to deed for construction engineering services on the historic Belmont County Sheriff’s Residence. Federal match comes to $102.75 and local match $25.69. For November services, federal match comes to $5,461.75 and local is $1,365.44. For December services, the federal match comes to $1,902.75 and local is $475.69.

Commissioners moved to approve and sign a change order for Carras Painting Inc. in the amount of $250 to scrape off the textured ceiling and repaint the ceiling in the recorder’s office.

Commissioners accepted a proposal from Erb Electric, totalling $4,900, for security upgrades to the sheriff’s office.

Commissioners authorized the issuance of $172,000 of notes paying part of the cost of acquiring vehicles for use by the county engineer.

Favede was also authorized to execute a contract with Lamar for the purchase of four Fair Housing Month promotional billboards for $2,000 from the Fair Housing Grant Fund. They will be located at Martins Ferry, Bridgeport and St. Clairsville.

Commissioners approved and signed an extension of the current homemaker and personal care agreements on behalf of DJFS until Feb. 28, 2014.

Commissioners approved the hiring of six part time employees for DJFS senior services to cross train as kitchen staff and drivers.

Commissioners will re-convene Tuesday at 9 a.m. for an executive session regarding collective bargaining.

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