Washington County Commission advances Devola sewer project

MARIETTA – The commissioners gave an update on the Devola sewer project at their weekly meeting Thursday.

Commission President David White said by the first week of April, a request for qualifications will be published across multiple media outlets for design firms who are interested in working on the project. White said that with the help of the county engineer, two firms will be selected for the project.

“One will design the project…the other will oversee their work,” he said.

White said the factors in determining their picks will be the ability of the firm to complete a suitable design and if the company has any history with the county. White said having prior knowledge of a firm’s ability will take some of the guesswork out of the equation. One typical aspect of a project’s planning that the commissioners are tasked to monitor–the price– won’t be an issue in their decision.

“We can’t even look at that,” he said.

White said they are mandated to base their pick of the design firm on their knowledge and skill instead of the expense.

Commissioner Ron Feathers also said they are hoping to get an extension from the Ohio EPA on the completion of the plans in order to look into potential easements on private property for the project. Feathers said when the original plans were drawn up sometime between 2010 and 2012, they showed the majority of the new sewer lines running under the roads in front of the homes. White said if some of the lines could be moved behind homes instead of under the roads, potential savings from using fewer materials and rebuilding roads could save taxpayer money.

“But it’s not up to the Ohio EPA, it’s up to the residents of Devola,” he said.

In 2012, the county was ordered to sewer an estimated 62 homes on Lawton Road by 2020, and the rest of Devola by 2025 by the Ohio EPA after excessive amounts of nitrates were found in wells in the Devola area.

The county failed to start the project which spurred litigation by the Ohio EPA. In December, the Washington County Common Pleas Court decided in the EPA’s favor, forcing the commissioners to begin the sewering of Devola.

In other business Thursday:

* Donnie Rader, IT director for the county, informed the commissioners that the purchase and installation of a back-up cooling system for the county’s server room is on schedule. The server room is located in the annex of the Washington County Courthouse and connects all departments in the county to the internet.

The call to action for the project started in January when the condenser pump for the cooling system backed up. The clog caused the system to work inefficiently, heating the server room to unsafe levels for the equipment housed there.

“There are nine servers, (electronic information) storage and two core switches that deliver internet throughout the county,” Rader said.

Once the pump was fixed, a coolant leak was found in the system’s pipes. Rader said once the leak was fixed and the system refilled with coolant, the added pressure caused an older release valve to blow, flooding the server room with coolant.

The near destruction of approximately $250,000 in computer hardware prompted Rader to ask for funds for the back-up cooling system in February, which the commissioners unanimously approved.

“To spend $12,000 in order to protect a quarter million dollars in equipment is worth it,” he said.

Rader said the project will be done by March 29.

* Dennis Sipe, chair of the Washington County Board of Elections, informed the commissioners there will be three vendors demonstrating their voting machines to the board of elections and residents of Washington County in April.

After the board’s regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. on April 10, representatives from Clear Ballot, RBM/Unisys and ES and S will each have an hour to demonstrate the use of their voting machines and answer any questions about them.

A mandate was given to the board in 2017 from the Secretary of State saying new voting machines must be purchased by all counties. The state will pay up to $750,000 of the cost of the new machines after former Gov. John Kasich authorized the underwriting of the cost of the machines throughout the state in 2018. Previous reports have said the cost of the new voting machines could be as much as $1 million.

Sipe didn’t give a timetable as to when they would pick one of the three choices as the county’s new voting machines.

The meeting will be held at the Board of Elections headquarters at 204 Davis Ave. and is open to the public.

* Flite Freimann, director of Washington County Job and Family Services, proposed a slower timetable in getting the merging Children Services and JFS departments into one structure.

Freimann said his new proposal separates the move into three large phases.

The first involves moving adult services from Job and Family Services’ current location on Gilman Avenue, and moving them into the upper floor of 204 Davis Ave. Freimann said this would entail an immediate move for the commissioners from Davis Avenue to the Gilman Avenue location.

The second phase would be finding a suitable location for the Board of Elections. Freimann said moving the location of the board wouldn’t happen until after the 2020 presidential election.

The final phase of the proposal would be the actual moving of the Board of Elections and having the rest of his organization move into the lower level of 204 Davis Ave.

“I think this could work, but we obviously need more input from the Board of Elections,” said White.

The commissioners said they would review the proposal before giving their decision.

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Dates to Remember

* 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Township Association Meeting

* 8:30 a.m. April 19: County Home monthly meeting

* 7 p.m. April 15: Planning Commission meeting

* 10 a.m. April 16: Finance Committee meeting

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