Commissioners backing DTF with $101,500

LISBON -Columbiana County commissioners are continuing their financial support of the county drug task force.

Commissioners voted last week to transfer $101,500 to help defray the costs of six local police departments that have assigned officers to the DTF, the second consecutive year they have made this financial commitment to encourage more departments to join.

Before last year, DTF membership had dwindled to just the sheriff’s office and the Leetonia, Lisbon and Salem police departments.

Since commissioners began helping pay the salaries of officers assigned to the DTF, the Columbiana, East Palestine and Wellsville police departments have also assigned officers and the East Liverpool department recently announced plans to do likewise.

Commissioners also agreed at the meeting to provide $6,019 in matching funds needed for the DTF to continue qualifying for a federal law enforcement grant.

The grant totals $18,058 this year and will be used to make drug buys and replace six computers.

“The board is still interested … in trying to help them as much as we can,” said Commission Chairman Jim Hoppel.

In other business, commissioners retroactively approved two contracts to proceed with the second phase of a housing demolition program begun last year with state money awarded the county. The contracts are with Stan Cunningham Excavating to demolish 14 homes for $54,870 and to Extreme Demolition to demolish nine homes for $42,400.

The contracts had already been signed by commissioners but had yet to be run through a meeting for approval, as pointed out last week by the Morning Journal.

This will bring to 69 the total number of homes demolished since 2013 with $533,000 awarded the county through the state attorney general’s office. The county was recently awarded an additional $27,823 from money that went unspent by other counties.

“It’s not a whole lot money,” Hoppel said of the $27,832, “but we ought to be able to do another three, four, five homes.”

“I give Tad kudos for finding that money,” said Commissioner Mike Halleck, referring to county Development Director Tad Herold.

Commissioners also:

– Agreed to make the courthouse parking lots available for the Johnny Appleseed Festival on Sept. 20-21, with the stipulation they meet with Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce officials beforehand to go over the ground rules. Commissioners were upset last year when some of the food vendors dumped grease in the parking lot.

The chamber has already assured commissioners there will not be a repeat of last year’s problem and they will ensure the parking lots are properly cleaned by Sept. 22.

– Accepted the recommendation of the county auditor’s office and hired the Industrial Appraisal Co. of Pittsburgh for $21,350 to appraise county buildings and other assets for insurance and bookkeeping purposes.