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County studies landfill bonds

October 12, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE -The Jefferson County commissioners Thursday agreed to put the ball back in the hands of a local landfill to see what can be done to improve odor complaints before the county approves a bond restructuring agreement for the company.

Liberty Waste Transportation, currently known as ELS Transportation, borrowed $19 million to construct the Apex Landfill and purchase sealed waste containers to transport garbage from the East Coast. The bond was issued through the Columbiana County Port Authority in 1994. ELS Transportation wants to restructure the bond for economic benefits, said Tracy Drake, director of the Columbiana County Port Authority.

Jefferson County commissioners have to approve the bond restructuring because most of the landfill is located in the county.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said residents in the area of the landfill have been complaining for years about odors coming from the facility, especially when the sealed railroad cars are opened and the garbage is removed. He said the Jefferson County health department has received as many as 160 complaints in a month about odors. Gentile said he wasn't prepared to assist the owners of the landfill.

Columbus attorney Steve Grasbaugh, representing ELS Transportation, said landfills are always an issue with the public.

County Commissioner David Maple said the bond restructuring will create a cash-flow benefit for the company and he wants a commitment that some of the economic benefits for the landfill's owners will be spent on eliminating the odor complaints. He questioned the overall economic impact and whether it would jeopardize jobs at the landfill.

"We want to see some economic commitment applied directly to solve the problems with Jefferson County residents. We have been promised repeatedly (the odor complaint would be addressed) but they haven't been honored," Gentile said.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said the issue would be tabled until the landfill's owners come back with a plan to address the odor problems.

Grasbaugh said the company has spent 10 months and about $100,000 trying to get the bond restructured. He said if Jefferson County denies the bond change, the company will spend more time and money in getting it completed.

In other matters, commissioners approved a $10,177 change order for work on the apron paving project outside two new hangars at the county airport.

Mike Menzel, Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority president, told the commissioners the engineer for the project, Richland Engineering, made a error in the depth of a water line installed and need for a second catch basin for storm-water runoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent of the cost, with the local share being $1,017.

Commissioners questioned if Richland is responsible for the cost because of the error.

Richland Engineering has been doing work at the airport for decades.

Gentile asked the commissioners put together a committee to select an engineer for work on the upcoming runway extension project.

Commissioners also:

Endorsed the 1-mill levy for the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School on the Nov. 6 ballot. The additional levy will generate money for current expenses, purchasing equipment for buildings and improving buildings for 10 years.

Agreed to hire Cleveland attorney Kimberly Riley to represent Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. and county Clerk of Courts John Corrigan in a mandamus action filed in the Ohio Supreme Court by Anthony Sylvester, doing business as AAA Sly Bail Bonds of Canton. Bruzzese issued an order forbidding Sylvester from writing bonds for criminal defendants in Jefferson County. Sylvester wants his company to be allowed to post bonds in Jefferson County courts.

Riley will be paid up to $15,000.

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