ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Belmont County sheriff's office and sanitary sewer district are expanding to answer needs of an economically growing county.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Belmont County sheriff's office and sanitary sewer district are expanding to answer needs of an economically growing county.

Commissioners motioned to authorize the sheriff to hire four full-time control employees and two full-time civil staff at the rate of $12.18 per hour. Sheriff David Lucas noted the new positions will be occupied by civilians, freeing several deputies to maintain a greater presence on the floor. In addition, it will no longer be necessary to pay a deputy's wages for office work.

"We've been having an influx of people," said Lucas. "We've had a very large increase in the jail facility. Last year we averaged 84 persons a day. Now we're averaging 120."

He added that this will allow the presence of office personnel 24/7 for the first time since 2009.

"This will also benefit all the local police departments," Lucas said, noting that there will always be someone available to pull warrants and check them, as well as have warrants waiting when police pick up a suspect.

"We're looking for highly-motivated office personnel that can multitask. We're a very fast-paced working office," he said. "I just want to thank the commissioners. They very patiently worked with us and looked at the numbers and figures and facts at hand. It wasn't a want, it was a need."

In addition, commissioners motioned to adopt a resolution granting a base pay rate adjustment of $1.50 per hour to Sanitary Sewer District Director Mark Esposito, retroactive to Feb. 1, 2013.

Commissioner Ginny Favede noted the expansion seen by the county.

"There needs to be recognition that we are managing a different county," she said. "Belmont County is growing and the demands on our departments are becoming greater, and we are working to address those demands so that we can continue to offer services."

Esposito has been assigned additional responsibilities beyond his current duties. These include addressing water needs for drilling and fracking purposes and meeting with companies intending to purchase county water for fracking.

He is also working on additional water and sewer projects to accommodate tourism, economic development and expansion, as well as improvements to existing county water and sewer lines for the burgeoning oil and gas industry. This includes working with new hotel projects and the seeing to utilities for the expansion of the mall.

"Everything associated with the oil and gas industry requires Mark's time," said Favede said. "He's taken on practically another job."

Also, commissioners motioned to authorize the sanitary sewer district to advertise for the positions of water treatment plant operator class one, two or three with Ohio EPA certification; a meter reader and a utility worker for the water distribution department; and a collection system operator for the sewer department.

In addition, guests also spoke about unmaintained properties which are causing a rise in nuisance animals. Other guests complained of illegal dumping west of Powhatan Point.

In other matters, commissioners entered into a roadway use maintenance agreement for drilling projects and infrastructure with Gulfport Energy Corporation for the use of 3.1 miles of County Road 128, Boston Road, for the purpose of ingress and egress for drilling activity at the Slope Creek III-Wesley site.

Favede also gave an update on the planned purchase of property for a new Flushing Senior Center. A proposed deed must be presented to the board for review by the prosecutor. Results are expected within two weeks.

Commissioners motioned to enter into agreement with Michael Baker Jr., Inc. in an amount not to exceed $9,980 for construction inspection, constriction, administration and testing as authorized by the county for the Mall/Banfield traffic signal replacement project. The agreement is 100 percent federally funded.

Commissioners motioned to reject the bid received Aug. 14 from Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co., the sole bidder, in the amount of $798,153 for the Sand Hill Bridge replacement. It was 10 percent in excess of the estimated cost.

Favede was authorized to sign a subordination of mortgage for $40,720 regarding property owned by Dana J. Conaway, 56971 Ferry View Road, Martins Ferry. The county holds a lien on the property through a past CHIP grant and Conaway is refinancing.

Commissioners motioned to approve a 50-cent hourly salary adjustment for Belmont County Sanitary Sewer District employee Brian Ware, effective Aug. 22. He will be reclassified from Utility Worker 1 to Utility Worker 2.

Commissioners adopted a resolution declaring the 2014 dog license fees for one year, three years, and permanent licenses for the county. Licenses for one year are $12. A three years license is $36. A permanent license fee $120. Kennel fees are $60 per year.

Commissioners motioned to advise the Ohio Division of Liquor Control there is no hearing required regarding a request for the transfer of a liquor permit from ABBECA LLC, DBA Chapz Bar & Grill, Belmont, to Derosa Development LLC, DBA Chapz Bar & Grill. This covers liquor for on-premises consumption only, beer and wine for on-premises or off-premises in original sealed containers until 2:30 a.m.

Commissioners will re-convene today at 10 a.m.

DeFrank can be reached at