STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Veterans' Service Commission's move to the Ohio Valley Towers was discussed during Thursday's Jefferson County commissioners' meeting.
Commissioners asked Schelley Brooks, director of the service commission, about some expenditures made during the ongoing move from the 423 North St. location to the towers. Commissioners were especially interested in the purchase of desks by the agency.
Brooks previously had approached commissioners asking for new desks for the agency during the move, citing a lack of finances, and commissioners agreed to find desks culled from different county departments for the commission.
However, commissioners then learned the veterans' commission had purchased the desks, raising concern. Commissioners Thursday asked Brooks why the commission purchased the desks if they didn't have the funds. Brooks said the commission found funds in its budget to pay for the desks.
"We asked for new desks when we were about to move to the towers," said Brooks, adding the agency's older desks were "dilapidated." She also explained the commission needed desks with locks for the security of materials stored there.
"They aren't just desks - they are work stations," she said, adding the desks are ergonomically designed to prevent carpal tunnel and other possible health problems. "The desks we have now are just not working."
Commissioner Dave Maple said the purchase of new desks by the commission without notifying commissioners raised a red flag.
"I think the concern is that you didn't have (the funds for new desks) in your budget," said Maple. "I think the word is you would have 'liked' new desks rather than 'need' new desks. We're watching the budget, and we need to be as conservative as possible."
Commissioner Thomas Gentile concurred with Maple, adding he "had a problem" with the agency purchasing the desks and it was "disrespectful" not to notify commissioners about the purchase.
"I'm OK with your logic," said Commissioner Thomas Graham. "It's coming out of your budget, so personally I don't have a problem with it."
Brooks said she didn't mean to cause any issues.
"I meant no disrespect," she said. "I do apologize."
Gentile said he may have sounded "curt" but the commissioners had a duty to govern with funds available. All agreed the veterans' commission was a needed and important resource for county veterans.
Brooks also announced the annual Veterans Health Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Steubenville High School Commons. Brooks also said the move to the towers is expected to be complete by Nov. 15.
In other matters:
- A letter addressed to commissioners from Robert Becker of 2124 county Road 22A stated he was experiencing serious problems with sewer gas at his residence.
Becker's residence is one of 450 residences that lies within the county's project to extend sewage lines to the Crestview-Belvedere area. Becker wrote his sewage line to the county line had been established, but he was experiencing serious problems with the gas.
"On Sept. 23 I arrived home to find my house filled with sewer gas," he wrote. "It was so strong I was fearful of turning on a light switch.
"I had to open the 6-inch cleanout in the yard outside," he continued. "Then I discovered that the tremendous vacuum created by the huge amount of sewage passing down through the main sewer pipeline was too much for my plumbing vents to satisfy."
Becker went on to write he called the county water and sewage department, which then smoke tested his line, and he was informed the line passed the test. However, the problem remains, wrote Becker.
"It is now Oct. 11, and nothing has been resolved," he wrote. "I still have to keep the outside cleanout open to keep my traps safe. The smell in the yard sometimes is unbearable."
Commissioners said the problem needs to be resolved without delay.
"If a homeowner is getting sewer gas backed up into his home, that's unacceptable," said Gentile, adding MS Consulting, project engineer, is looking into the matter.
"We need a recommendation from MS Consulting on how to resolve this problem," said Graham. "If it's as bad as this we need to expedite (a solution)."
Both commissioners wondered aloud if someone at the county water and sewage department wasn't doing their job correctly. Maple also asked Shannon Gosbin, county sanitary engineer, to draft a letter to Becker requesting he contact Jefferson County 911 if he again experiences high amounts sewer gas in the residence. Commissioners asked Gosbin to look into the matter.
- Commissioners also went into executive session to discuss several matters and later traveled to Piney Fork for public viewing of an alley and part of a street for possible vacation.