Commissioners table road accords

CADIZ – At the recommendation of Commissioner Dale Norris, the Harrison County board of commissioners Wednesday tabled two road use and maintenance agreements brought by Doug Crabtree, representing the engineer’s office.

“The roadway use and maintenance agreement is intended to protect roads and bridges from truck traffic generated by the oil and gas industry, and in both cases, the roads have been recently paved or chipped and sealed,” said Norris. “I feel that the truck traffic will use the most direct route, and that means we need to cover the entire length of the roads that has been established as our policy, and we need to table the agreements until they are amended.”

All three RUMAs were with Chesapeake Exploration, agreement 29-13 was the only one approved covering 1.1 mi. of CR 51 which would access the Ciacci well site in German Township. According to Norris, this would cover the entire area where vehicles would be traveling.

Agreement 30-13 for 1.2 mi. of CR 47 and 31-13 for 0.8 mi. of CR 31 and 0.15 mi. of CR 16 were both held.

“We are very fortunate to have Dale on the board at this time,” said fellow Commissioner Bill Host, noting Norris was director of the Harrison County Highway Department before running for commissioner. “His knowledge of the county highways at this time is very helpful in making decisions on gas and oil requests.”

Todd Shelton, former director of the Athens County Economic Development Council, Office of U.S Sen. Rob Portman Southeast Ohio district representative, appeared before the board to ask questions about the county’s progress in the shale play. “I just wanted to stop in and ask commissioners how things are going, especially in relation to the shale boom.”

“We would like to ask the senator to help us find ways to get some of the money back into the county from the drilling boom,” said Commission chair Don Bethel. “We do not want to be greedy but we do want to be treated fairly.”

Bethel explained that coal was a boom for the county, but when that industry dried up, the county fell over a fiscal cliff.

“This is our second chance. Times were pretty rough around here, and we feel that we should find a way to enact a fee which ensure that our grandchildren will inherit a county that is not broke,” Bethel added. “I feel the earlier the better, so businesses have the opportunity to plan for the fees.”

Shelton said the state is considering legislation similar to Pennsylvania law which establishes a fund, such as a state-level tax, with a set percentage of the revenues redistributed directly to local governments being affected by Marcellus development.

Adding to the debate is that it currently isn’t clear how Marcellus development is affecting local government services and costs, and thus how development may affect local taxpayers. There is much anecdotal evidence that such impacts are occurring, such as road damage, rising and changing demand for police and emergency services, and increased time commitments for municipal and county-level officials. But as yet there isn’t definitive information about how widespread or costly these impacts will be, and thus how many more dollars local governments will need to cover these costs.

Shelton was also at the Puskarich Library from noon until 1 p.m.

Chris Jacobs, district executive director for the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison solid waste district, announced that the Harrison County appliance, scrap metal, tire and electronics recycling collection will be held on Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Harrison County Highway Garage off SR 9 north of Cadiz.

Jacobs also introduced his new administrative assistant, Teresa Martini, announcing he would be leaving his post of 20 years to take a job with the railroad.

Angie Peters was introduced by Scott Blackburn of the county DJFS to the board. Peters is the manager for the new Business Resource Network (BRN) located in Steubenville. Along with administrative assistant Carrie Fodor, the pair explained that the BRN is a four-county business network that will mirror similar operations in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, serving Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties.

“The BRN was originally created in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties to improve services provided to regional businesses. It uses a teamwork approach to working with and using a structured interview through software. The interview identifies needs of a business that are reviewed by the BRN partners who provide options for meeting a business need,” explained Peters.

Peters said the operation was funded by a Department of Labor grant which will continue until June 30, 2015. “The Trumbull County BRN, which was founded by a similar grant, is now self-sustaining.”

“We will also have an account manager for each of the four counties who will conduct business partner interviews in their county,” Peters said, adding that some of the partners already signed up included American Electric Power.

BRN would be holding its first roundtable meeting at Harrison Community Hospital on April 29 at 9 a.m.

Palmer may be reached at