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Oil and gas industry giveth and taketh away

By Carol McIntire

Carroll County Commissioners agree that the oil and gas industry has given much to the county.

They are now seeing the other side of the coin as the industry is now “taking.”

Last week commissioners discussed how the industry may provide a funding boost to the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) budget, and at the same time take away from it.

EMA Director Tom Cottis visited county commissioners last week asking for approval to apply for the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) grant. Cottis said because of the additional workload associated with the oil and gas industry moving into the county, he has applied for $24,000 for personnel and $5,000 for training, up from the $13,900 LEPC received last year.

“We do a lot of work associated with the oil and gas industry,” Cottis said. “I am asking for a total of $29,000 and hoping we get a good percentage of it.”

On Monday, Commissioner Robert “Bob” Wirkner announced Todd Smith, the LEPC coordinator, left his position for a job in the oil and gas industry.

“We have to fill that position, but I would like to change the job description to be an assistant EMA director whose duties include being director of the LEPC.”

Wirkner said he would like to see the salary in the range of $24,900 (depending on qualifications) and suggested some of the additional funds for the salary could come from the Emergency Management Planning Grant. He explained that the more the county puts into the grant as its match, the more funds that are available for use to operate the department.

“We’ve been putting in just enough to get by,” he said. “I would like to see us put in additional money.”

Commissioner Tom Wheaton said there is a possibility the flood plain duties, which are now being handled by the Regional Planning Office could be rolled into the job as well.

“Our regional planning director spends about 20 percent of his time doing flood plain work,” he said. “We fund that aspect of the job so we could move it to EMA. It would bring with it about $8,000 in funding.”

Wirkner expressed his concern about hiring someone who would remain on the job for years to come.

“That job comes with a lot of training,” he said. “We pay for that training. Our question to ourselves should be, ‘how often do we want to pay for that training?’ I think we should make the salary high enough to attract someone who would look at the position as a career.”

Commissioners noted Smith was paid $12,000 per year on a contract basis to serve as the LEPC director.

Commissioners agreed to post the job in area newspapers.

In other business, commissioners:
-SIGNED a notice to proceed with Edwards Land Clearing of Amhurst to clear land for an 18-hole golf course at Atwood Resort and Golf Club at a cost of $83,625.  

 Work was to begin Feb. 1 and be completed by Aug. 1.

-AGREED to accept bids until Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m. and open them at that time for a roof replacement project at the Sherrodsville EMS building. The project is being paid for with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

-RECEIVED the weekly dog pound report showing 24 dogs impounded, 21 tagged and one redeemed.

-SIGNED final reports for the CDBG Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) for fiscal year 2010.

-SIGNED a road use maintenance agreement with Chesapeake Exploration to use a portion of Cinder Rd. in Lee Twp. for access to the John Adams well site.

-DESIGNATED the day after Thanksgiving a holiday for county employees.

-Agreed to pay a $350 retainer fee to GGC Engineers for 2013. Commissioner Jeff Ohler noted the company will draw up cost estimates for any water or sewer project at no cost, if the county pays the retainer fee. GGC’s services were used for the sewer system project at the county home that was never completed because Select Energy backed away from an agreement to locate in Carroll County.

-APPROVED seven right-of-way agreements as recommended by County Engineer Brian Wise.

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