Business as Usual for Pair of Officials

Belmont County commissioners Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland conducted regular business at Wednesday’s commission meeting despite the empty desk that sat between them.

Charles Probst announced his retirement as commissioner effective Nov. 30, and Wednesday’s meeting was the first with just two sitting commissioners.

The Belmont County Democrat Executive Committee meets at 7 p.m. tonight in the Red Room at Belmont College to appoint a commissioner to the vacant commission seat. Probst – who retired so as to secure full benefits under the Public Employees Retirement System – is among those indicating interest the appointment, along with Pease Township Trustee Michael Bianconi, Pultney Township Trustee Frank Shaffer, retired businessman John Mattox and former commissioner Mark Thomas.

Probst briefly attended Wednesday’s meeting and sat with the public. Bianconi and Shaffer also were in the commission chambers.

Favede and Coffland voted to re-appoint Jack Head as the county’s apiary inspector, charged with examining bee hives in the county. His pay was continued at a flat rate of $1,000 a year.

Commissioners next called for an executive session pertaining to the “employment and compensation of a public employee.” Following the 10-minute private discussion, commissioners voted to hire Brian M. Cooper as a full-time employee with the building and grounds department. Cooper is to be paid $9.23 an hour.

Favede and Coffland also approved a deal with the MicroSeismic company of Beeville, Texas to conduct monitoring of natural gas well stimulation near the Belmont County fairgrounds.

The one-time only permit for $300 gives MicroSeismic permission to monitor the Rice Energy Bigfoot 7H gas well project beginning on Dec. 8, and expiring Jan. 31.