Completion of West Jefferson’s newly built water treatment plant has been delayed due to electrical issues.
Public Service Director Harold Walker estimates the plant will not fully operate until January 2009.
“This is not an engineering problem. This is more a quibble between AEP and the electrical contractor over how the electric is going to be installed,” Walker said at the Aug. 18 West Jefferson Village Council meeting, adding that 95 percent of the remaining work is electrical.
The plant was originally slated to go on-line in September.
To help operate and maintain the plant and to comply with regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the village hired Haley Wright as its water and wastewater assistant superintendent, a newly created position.
According to Walker, Wright received favorable reports from previous employers and may save the village thousands of dollars by performing tests for the plant.
“She can perform 70 to 80 percent of all tests,” he said. “Really, it’s in our benefit. To be honest, she’s overqualified.”
Little Darby Lease
The Director of Parks and Recreation in West Jefferson proposed a lease agreement between the village and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in an effort to preserve a portion of land adjacent to the Little Darby River and “get the frogs back in kids’ pockets.”
Jack McDowell hopes the village will approve a 10-year lease to maintain and manage the area known as the Blatter, McDonald’s, and Merriman tracts, located on the banks of the river. The lease would protect the land from purchase and development and offer low-impact recre-ational activities.
According to McDowell, the facilities for visitors would include mowed hiking trails, canoe and kayak access, study areas, and a gravel parking lot. It would also possibly provide a place for special events.
McDowell said kids today need to get away from their computers and back into nature.
“The youth in this country are ranked 25th in the world in terms of their knowledge in science,” McDowell said.
President Darlene Steele pointed out the various parks and nature preserves that already exist in and around the village that offer many of the same facilities.
The park located in Jefferson Township at Taylor Blair Road and state Route 40 holds a nature preserve, as does Converse Park, located on Converse Road, according to Steele, who pointed out that Converse Park is handicap accessible.
McDowell asked that the council return with a decision at the next council meeting on Sept. 1 so that he can make a master plan for the plot and submit it to the Department of Natural Resources.
The department has stated that it is not interested in allowing the village to annex the property at this time. If the council members do not opt to lease the land, it will remain as-is.
“Bare-bones” budgeting by council members necessitated a request that supplemental appropriations be pulled from the general fund.
Finance Director Jack Herrel addressed five accounts in need of additional funds.
The Planning and Zoning Operations account, budgeted at $45,000 for the year, is in arrears over $73,000 due to payments to Gannett & Fleming for engineering services.
“A lot of this is being funneled back into the village,” said Herrel who explained that even though the village is spending money up front, it will be returned on the revenue side later.
“We don’t know how much we’ll be spending for the rest of the year, but we hope this will cover it all,” said Herrel in reference to the planning and zoning appropriations.
The Lands and Building Contracts account, budgeted at $20,000, requires an added $7,000 to balance the account. Herrel requested $10,000 from the general fund to maintain the account.
Three other accounts—Workers’ Compensation, Income Tax Refunds, and HRA—also exceeded the initial appropri-ations.
Workers’ Compensation and Income Tax Refunds were budgeted at $20,000 and $15,000, respectively.
According to Herrel, Workers’ Compen-sation is difficult to gauge from year to year as the Workers’ Compensation Bureau gives premium reductions for that particular year.
“We just don’t know what those reductions will be,” said Herrel.
The HRA account, recently created to reimburse village employees for exceeding their $250 deductible covered in the new insurance policy, was not in the original budget and was never funded.
“We have to remember that the ap-propriations we’ve done in the last few years have been bare bones,” said Vice President Ron Garver. “Some years you’ll have to go back and add more.”