Jefferson County to Receive Nearly $1 Million in FEMA Aid for Rain Damage

The Jefferson County Engineer’s Department informed the commissioners Thursday the county is set to receive $967,764 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damages associated with the heavy rainfall in 2018.

Clay Merrin, chief deputy engineer, said the money is a reimbursement for work already done by the county.

The county earlier this year had more than $400,000 in road slip damages. FEMA declared an emergency for flooding rains in February, which led to the road slips.

Merrin said even though the disaster was declared, FEMA representatives have yet to meet with the county engineer’s department to review the damages.

County Engineer James Branagan previously said repairs will be made to the slips using county funds and then the county will have to wait for reimbursement, which could cause a cash-flow problem with funding for other projects.

Commissioners approved a $615,921 contract between the Jefferson County Job and Family Services and the Community Action Council to pay for workers to clean debris out of creeks and streams which could cause flooding.

Mike McGlumphy, CAC chief executive officer, said the federal money will pay for three, four-person crews, three supervisors and one coordinator. The county in the past has received the grant to remove debris, such as fallen trees, from the creeks and streams to prevent future flooding.

McGlumphy said 25 sites have been identified and township trustees have added 13 additional sites for the cleanup. But he said the CAC may have difficulty finding people to do the work.

The commissioners approved a resolution thanking Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio House for approving the state budget which includes $95 million to pay for attorneys representing indigent criminal defendants.

Commissioner Thomas Graham, who is on the County Commissioners Association of Ohio board of directors, said the Ohio Senate now must approve the budget and the money allocated for indigent criminal defendants.

The county spends about $500,000 a year to pay for attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants. The Ohio House budget version would cover all of the costs of the indigent defendants by 2021.

Graham said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 56 years ago states it is the responsibility of states to provide attorneys for poor defendants. He said the state over the years has shifted that responsibility to the counties.

The commissioners approved a contract for the interior repainting of the Saline Township Community Center using Community Development Block Grants. JC’s Pressure Washing of state Route 213, Irondale, submitted the low estimate of $24,675.

They agreed to advertise for the replacement of the Smithfield water tank.

The county through the regional planning commission received a $750,000 grant for the project, in addition to $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The former tank, built in 1938, was taken out of service because of numerous leaks.

The new 200,000-gallon tank, double the size of the old one, is expected to cost around $1.5 million. The tank supplies water to about 560 customers in Smithfield, Piney Fork and Dillonvale Ridge.

Bids will be opened on July 18 in the commissioners’ office.

Commissioners approved the appointment of Stratton Mayor Paul Zdinak to the county 911 system board of directors.

Commissioners approved a road use maintenance agreement with Ohio Gathering Co. for eight projects to install connector gas pipelines from wells to main lines. The projects are in Mount Pleasant, Smithfield, Warren and Wayne townships and will utilize township and county roads.

Commissioners, upon the recommendation of the county engineer’s department, agreed to reduce Ohio Gathering Co.’s bond from $5 million to $1 million because the company has made repairs to county and township roads in the past.

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