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Belmont County Sheriff’s Office Will Now Cover Brookside

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Sheriff’s Office is expanding its coverage into Brookside after the board of commissioners approved an agreement with the village Wednesday.

The village had decided last week to sign a contract with the sheriff’s office rather than continue its agreement with Bridgeport Police Department.

The sheriff’s office will be paid $12,000 yearly, compared to the $24,000 Bridgeport was charging. Bridgeport had also considered increasing the yearly cost.

“It was basically a cost,” Commissioner Jerry Echemann said. “I don’t think Brookside felt they could afford to use Bridgeport anymore.”

The sheriff’s office will commit to a minimum of four hours’ patrolling per month in Brookside.

“The sheriff probably has more people out on the road at a given night than a lot of the small towns are going to have,” Echemann said.

“They’ll patrol the areas and they’ll do some radar,” Commissioner J.P. Dutton said.

Echemann said the sheriff’s office has similar arrangements with other small communities in the county.

Mayor Rich Kurner said Brookside had contracted with Bridgeport since the early 1970s. Changing law enforcement practices had been discussed for several years, until Bridgeport announced its intent to increase the fee by $1,000 per month. He said Bridgeport eventually offered to lower the increase to $500 per month, but by then council had committed to a change. Kurner said a dedicated deputy would patrol the area along with Lansing, Wolfhurst and Blaine, which also do not have their own police departments, but calls are answered promptly.

“We appreciate Bridgeport’s service all these years,” he said.

In other matters, after recommendations from Belmont County Engineer Terry Lively the county will enter into a contract with MasterMind Systems Inc. to conduct a speed zone study on six county roads for a cost of up to $8,400. The goal is to reduce the speed limits on County Road 26 in Bethesda, CR 54 Pipe Creek Road and Kirkland Hill Road; CR 80 Pogue Road; CR 84 Oak View Road; CR 100 McMillan Road; and CR 214 High Ridge Road. The project will be paid for with 90 percent federal safety funds and 10 percent motor vehicle gas tax funds.

“If you complain that they’re going fast on your road and you keep complaining, they’ll authorize a speed study,” Echemann said.

“This is something we have been doing every year for the past several years. We get requests from the public all the time, asking to put up speed limit signs on their road,” Lively said. “It’s not as simple as putting up a speed limit sign. We have to go through a whole process to show that a reduction in speed is justified.”

Lively said a report would be prepared, including a recommendation for the new speed, which will then be sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation for approval.

“This is a long process. It’s the better part of a year, start to finish (and) even after we go through this process and get a new sign put up out there, it doesn’t mean people are going to obey the sign and slow down, just that it’s a legally enforceable speed zone now and up to law enforcement … to write tickets,” Lively said.

He said county roads are designated 55 mph unless posted otherwise. Lively said the report would take multiple factors into account, such as past accidents and road conditions.

“It looks at site distance, it looks at the number of driveways, it looks at the number of vehicles that use the road. They measure the average speed of the vehicles using the road and they’ll recommend a new speed limit,” he said. “That could be 35 to 40 to 45.”

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