Viewing Set Today For Former Sheriff’s Home

The former Belmont County Sheriff’s residence closed in 1996, but an open house takes place there today following nearly $900,000 in renovations.

Belmont County commissioners will host the public from 5-7 p.m. today at the residence, located next to the courthouse in downtown St. Clairsville. The structure previously served as home to Belmont County’s sheriffs, with former sheriff George Neff the last to live there during the early 1970s.

The sheriff’s residence next served as home to the sheriff’s department offices until 1996, when department operations moved west to the new Belmont County Jail facility. Since then, the building has sat empty.

Commissioners received an Ohio Department of Transportation grant for $679,000 to begin the renovations. The Belmont County Tourism Council contributed $150,000 in matching funds; and the Belmont County Department of Development, another $70,000. The total amount of funds available was $899,000.

The renovated building will house a satellite office for the tourism council, as well as a county museum.

Commissioners met Wednesday and took action to hire three employees for the commission office, including a switchboard operator for the courthouse and two assistant clerks. All three will be paid a starting wage of $9 per hour. The two clerks replace two employees who recently left the office.

The position of switchboard operator, meanwhile, was eliminated in 2009. The operator to be hired also will serve as mail clerk and receptionist for the courthouse, and be located on the first floor in a room near the elevators. The person doing the job will be paid an unspecified hourly rate.

Commissioners unanimously passed a motion approving a change in the drug prescription plan for county employees that is expected to financially benefit the county by more than $100,000 each year.

The county will remain with the National Preferred Formulary Plan through Express Scripts, which eliminates coverage of 48 drug products at the start of 2014. Under this plan, members will have access to generic and alternative forms of the drugs eliminated,

Commissioners voted to appoint Commissioner Mark Thomas to the Belmont County 911 Board. The board seat was left vacant following the retirement of former commissioner Charles Probst, and this month’s appointment of Thomas to the county commission.

Thomas said Probst this week returned the laptop computer he used as commissioner to the commission, but said it has a damaged hard drive.

Pease Township Trustee Michael Bianconi, a former commissioner, asked the commissioners if they would accrue a list of expenses they paid out in 2013 for private attorneys and consultants.

Resident Richard Hoard of Martins Ferry asked for information pertaining to the hiring of a new director for the Belmont County Department of Job & Family Services, as well as what costs to the county have been since Belmont County Senior Services was separated from the county DJFS this year.