Old county elections building to be razed

LISBON — Demolition of the old county elections building is expected to begin this week and whatever is built in its place will have to wait until spring.

County Commissioner Mike Halleck announced during Wednesday’s meeting they have hired Russ James Contracting of Zanesville to do the demolition for $15,000.

“I wanted to make the board and the public aware that it’s happening,” he said.

Commissioners made it known in August they planned to raze the former elections board/county municipal court building on West Park Avenue, which first required they hire a Toledo firm to remove the asbestos. The asbestos contract was run through a meeting, but commissioners opted not to do that with the demolition contract.

Russ James is the same firm commissioners have used to demolish the old county Department of Job and Family Services building and to finish demolition of the old county home complex.

Halleck was asked what plans commissioners had for the property once the one-story brick building is razed.

“I think we’ll be make it suitable for parking until next spring and then we’ll take a look at it then,” he said.

Commissioners have made it clear they intend to build something on the site but have declined to get into specifics. Halleck has said before that moving the county development department and port authority into the same building to be constructed at the site is an idea worth pursuing.

Local officials are hopeful commissioners will build something on the site rather than let it become another gravel parking lot with overgrown weeds, which is what has become of the former JFS site at the corner of Nelson Avenue and East Chestnut Street.

In other business, Commissioner Tim Weigle was authorized to sign an agreement with the SpyGlass Group on the board’s behalf to have the company perform a cost analysis of the county’s phone operations.

Weigle said SpyGlass specializes in reviewing phone operations to search for efficiencies. “They audit your phone bill and tell you where you can cut costs,” he said.

There is no upfront cost to the county, and the company only gets paid from savings that would result. SpyGlass’s fee is 50 percent of any savings.

Weigle said the county is already doing what it can to save money, noting the switch two years ago from Easton Telecom Services to AT&T is saving $5,900 a month, and they are eliminating an unnecessary phone line linking East Liverpool Municipal Court to the county clerk of court’s system, which will save them another $863 per month.