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County aims for energy efficiency

May 4, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County commissioners Thursday approved a contract with Johnson Controls for an energy-efficiency project in county buildings that will save the county more than $1.3 million over 17 years in energy costs.

The commissioners and Johnson Controls have been going back and forth for the past several weeks on a contract agreement. The county wanted the project to pay for itself over time but Johnson Controls presented several contracts that showed the county actually spending more than $50,000 a year over the 17-year life of the agreement.

County Commissioner David Maple said he wasn't willing to place that financial burden on future commissioners.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the contract calls for the project to pay for itself or Johnson assumes the cost.

"It won't cost us money but it will save us money," said County Commissioner Thomas Gentile.

Maple said the state will finance the project with a low-interest loan.

The commissioners removed several items from the initial contract, including an electrical upgrade at the courthouse, which Graham said the commissioners must do in the near future.

Maple said the commissioners may enter a future energy savings contract for the electrical work.

"The original contract was pared down. The (commissioners) agreed to test the water on a smaller basis," he said.

In other matters, commissioners received a request from the Friendship Park Board for an additional $72,000 in funding to operate the park and pay for part of the wastewater treatment system being installed at the park.

Commissioners will meet with members of the Friendship Park Board next week after the regular commissioners' meeting to discuss the park's budget.

Commissioners also agreed to spend $4,400 to repair the steps outside the Veterans Service Commission Building at 423 North St.

Ed Mascio, veterans services commission service officer/director, said there have been several instances of people falling when leaving the building. A portion of the steps will be removed and new concrete installed and a railing installed.

Commissioners agreed to a new three-year contract for captains, lieutenants and sergeants at the county jail. The contract calls for a 1.5 percent wage increase the first year and a 1 percent increase in the second and third years.

Commissioners agreed to work with Toronto city officials on language for a new contract for the purchase of water. Toronto Mayor John Geddis said said the current language is ambiguous and contradictory and has caused issues between the county and the city. Geddis said the terms of the current contract don't accurately account for the increasing expenses of the operation and maintenance of the Toronto water treatment plant.

Graham said the wording of the contract needs updated because of conflicting language.

Commissioners, upon the recommendation of the county regional planning commission, hired GT Environmental of Westerville for brownfield remediation work at the former Kaul Clay site outside Toronto.

Regional planning received a $299,500 grant from the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund for Phase II of the project, which will include testing of the soil and water on the property and the determination for any environmental remediation.

Commissioners also learned the county's cost for natural gas for heating the courthouse will decrease by 40 percent with a bulk purchasing contract negotiated by the Ohio Mid-Eastern Regional Education Services Agency. OME-RESA represents 243 government entities and school districts in negotiating a gas contract, which will run for three years.

Commissioners also agreed to close a small section of county Road 44 for three hours in the morning on May 19 to allow for a poker run by A.B.A.T.E.

Commissioners opened bids for a sign upgrade project by the county engineer's department. The county received a state grant up to $43,000 that pays for 75 percent of the project. Rocal Inc. of Frankfort submitted the low bid of $37,578.

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