Washington County offers health savings to employees

MARIETTA – County employees will have the chance to lower their health insurance premiums through a new wellness incentive program approved by commissioners Thursday.

“Those who participate have the possibility of reducing their health insurance premium from 20 to 18 percent for the 2014 calendar year,” said Commissioner Tim Irvine.

To be eligible employees must accumulate at least 200 of 500 possible points on a wellness scorecard.

“Each activity on the card is worth a certain number of points to the employee,” said Court Witschey, the county wellness coordinator. “In order to be eligible for points, each activity must occur within Sept. 1, 2012 and Oct. 31, 2013.”

Activities on the card include getting an annual physical, serving on the Washington County Wellness Team or receiving a flu vaccination.

“We just tried to design a program that will reward our employees for adopting healthy lifestyles,” Witschey said.

The program has been in the works for about four months. Witschey believes it will be ready to implement soon.

“We are hoping to have the scorecards out to employees within the next month,” he said.

Also at the Thursday meeting, the commissioners agreed to be the local conduit for funding the W.P. Snyder Transportation Agreement.

Plans are being made for the vessel to leave Marietta for a repair project.

The project, which will be in its second phase, will have a total spending budget of $958,000.

“The funding will come from a combination of federal and state sources,” said Fred Smith, manager of architectural services at the Ohio Historical Society. “The federal enhancement program is granting $736,000 to the project while the state Legislature is contributing $220,000.”

The county won’t be providing funds for the project.

“We are simply agreeing to be the vehicle for the federal and state funding to come through,” said Commissioner Ron Feathers.

The first phase of the restoration project repaired the most critical elements of damage to the W.P. Snyder Jr.

“We had to make repairs to the hull and completely replace the plating just to make sure it wouldn’t sink,” Smith said. “The second phase is to restore the boat above the water.”

Repairs will include replacing the main deck plating, boiler deck plating, the ship’s electrical system and painting the entire vessel.

“Our goal is to restore the boat to how it was when it was given to us,” Smith said. “When we have someone visit the W.P. Snyder, we want them to have the same experience as when it used to be fully operational.”

The Ohio Historical Society received ownership of the W.P. Snyder in 1955 after it was donated to the state by Crucible Steel.

“This is the only example of a steam-hauling boat left,” Smith said. “By renovating and restoring this ship we are preserving an important piece of river boating history.”

Smith hopes all the details will be worked out soon allowing the restoration of the W.P. Snyder to move forward.

“We are hoping to have the financial particulars completed soon and the second phase of the project ready to bid by this spring,” he said.