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Funding Sought for Septic Remediation

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Belmont County Board of Health on Monday authorized an application for a $195,000 state loan program to replace failing home sewage treatment systems in the county.

Voting for the resolution were board president Elizabeth Glick and members Joel Braido, Dwight Jenewein, James King and Irene Louda. Board member Dr. Renato DelaCruz was absent.

Last year, the health department spent $197,000 of a $200,000 grant for septic remediation, said Robert Sproul, deputy health commissioner.

The remaining $3,000 from that grant is being carried over for the 2020 program, he added.

Using the grant funds, the health department awarded contracts to replace 15 sewage treatment systems for qualifying county homeowners in 2019, Sproul said. The average cost of each replacement system was $13,197.

The grants are awarded through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s water pollution control loan fund.

A homeowner’s income eligibility for participation in the septic remediation program is based on U.S. poverty guidelines.

In other action taken at Monday’s meeting, the board voted to accept a recommendation by Linda Mehl, director of nursing, to hire a medical billing clerk.

Meanwhile, Mehl said a decision hasn’t been made on a contract proposal submitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus for conducting the Personal Responsibility Education Program in five counties. If approved, the health department would serve as a subcontractor.

Last month, she said the health department didn’t receive a PREP grant for 2020-21, resulting in a loss of $80,000 in funding annually. Instead, the Ohio Department of Youth Services awarded a two-year contract to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

PREP funds are used to provide preventive education for youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, she said.

The program seeks to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and to prevent incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Mehl said a new program to provide car seats to area families will begin after a supply of the devices arrives. She hopes that car seats will be delivered in February.

An employee of the health department is undergoing training for the car seat program this week, Mehl said.

The health department was asked to take over the local project after East Ohio Regional Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center closed.

The two hospitals had managed the program since 2012.

The Stark County Health Department administers the initiative. Belmont County will get 64 car seats a year to distribute, she said.

Dr. George L. Cholak, county health commissioner, said no births and 43 deaths occurred in Belmont County in December. In 2019, a total of 13 births and 576 deaths were reported.

The board’s next meeting will be held at noon Feb. 10 at the health department, 68501 Bannock Road, St. Clairsville.

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