Brooke, Hancock Counties Extend Dispatching Agreement for Weirton

The Hancock County Emergency 911 Center will continue to handle landline calls from the Brooke County section of Weirton and receive a portion of landline fees collected for the service.

The Brooke County commissioners supported Tuesday a renewal of a 2004 memorandum of understanding with the Hancock County Commission through which the call center will respond to 911 calls made through landlines in areas that are in Weirton and Brooke County.

The city is divided between the two counties. Areas that are divided include parts of Three Springs Drive and Marland Heights, Freedom Way and Colliers Way.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said the renewal reflects the $4 increase in monthly landline fees from property owners approved by the commission last year. At that time, commissioners said the increase, from $2.05 to $6.05, was needed because the Brooke County 911 center was operating at a $15,000 deficit spurred by rising costs.

Commission President Tim Ennis said the Hancock County 911 center also will receive a portion of cellphone fees returned to Brooke County by the state Public Service Commission.

Raised from $3 last year, the $3.34 monthly fee is divided among the West Virginia State Police, for 911 upgrades; the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to maintain a radio network involving local agencies; and each of the 55 counties based on their population.

In other matters, the commissioners were told the Market Street Bridge will be considered for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places by the West Virginia Archives and History Commission at a Sept. 28 hearing at Hawks Nest State Park in Fayette County.

Officials with the state Division of Culture and History forwarded to the commissioners information about potential benefits of the designation, including state grants that might be available for the span’s preservation.

Completed in 1905, the span began as a privately owned toll bridge for streetcars and pedestrians. In 1941, it was purchased for $1.3 million by the state of West Virginia, which collected tolls for its repairs and saw that it was converted for automobile use as the streetcar industry declined.

Several years ago, the advancing age of the bridge and the Fort Steuben Bridge, since demolished, were cited as the reasons to build a new Ohio River span in a study commissioned by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Ground was broken for the new bridge in July, and it’s scheduled to be completed in 2021.

In 2005, amid rumors the Market Street Bridge could be closed in the not distant future, former Follansbee mayor Tony Paesano and others lobbied for its preservation. Federal and state officials responded with $10 million in renovations to the span, including the addition of decorative blue and white lighting and a blue and yellow paint job.

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