STEUBENVILLE -- Jefferson County commissioners and the county humane society signed an agreement Thursday giving the humane society more duties in the operation of the county's animal shelter.
Under the agreement, the humane society will man the reception desk, answer phone calls and assist the public, as well as conduct pet adoption programs.
County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the animal shelter employees will remain under the control of the county and will do work behind the scenes with the dogs, such as cleaning kennels and feeding and caring for dogs. He said the humane society will help as necessary with the care of the dogs.
Gentile said the purpose of the animal shelter is to see that the animals are adopted.
The humane society will take care of cats because state law requires the county only cares for dogs.
The commissioners and the humane society recently completed an operations manual for the shelter. Under that agreement, the county's dog warden and the humane society will have to sign off on euthanizing a dog.
Commissioners said the dog warden could make the sole determination if the medical condition warrants the dog be immediately put down.
If the dog warden and the county humane society can't reach an agreement on putting a dog down, the commissioners will make the final determination.
Sally Wehr, county humane society president, said the humane society will be able to make more resources available for getting cats and dogs adopted into "forever homes."
The humane society will provide training to prospective pet owners on how to properly care for the pets once adopted, Wehr said. She said the humane society will work on the proper socialization of dogs prior to adoption so the dogs get along with other family pets.
"Hopefully, we will have more people satisfied with the animals," she said.
The humane society will catalog dogs once they come into the animal shelter and check to see what shots or flea medication are needed, Wehr said.
"Our goal is to get as many pets matched with homes where they will stay forever. We have a first-class facility and hopefully we will have a first-class program," she said.
Also, commissioners were informed that Wintersville has withdrawn its proposed project for an infrastructure improvement on Fernwood Road.
The county was informed the state is making available additional Community Development Block Grant money for counties because of a cut in statewide funding. The county is eligible for up to $300,000 for an infrastructure improvement.
Wintersville proposed making about $371,000 in improvements to a section of Fernwood Road from Main Street to Myers Lane, including fixing drainage problems, new curbs and repaving of about three-quarters of a mile.
County Engineer James Branagan proposed another project on county Road 7B, Commercial Avenue extension south of Mingo Junction. Branagan said the road will be upgraded at a cost of $468,114. He said about 0.69 mile of the road will be repaved, 4,450 feet of new curbs installed, replace or repair 12 catch basins, replace about 380 feet of storm sewers and replace sidewalks.
Wintersville and the county engineer's department will be responsible for any costs above $300,000.
One of the criteria for funding was the elimination of blight, something Branagan argued didn't apply to Fernwood Road in Wintersville. The project also has to be in a low- to moderate-income area.
Walt Ziemba, Wintersville administrator, said the village could have completed the income survey along Fernwood Road but the emphasis on blight removal seems to "outweigh an objective evaluation of both projects."
"Wintersville will continue to seek funding through regional planning, Ohio Public Works Commission and other funding entities to improve this important piece of infrastructure that serves Jefferson County," Ziemba said.
County Commissioner Thomas Graham said he takes exception to Wintersville claiming there wouldn't be an objective decision on which project would be selected.
County Commissioner David Maple said he wants a better evaluation process established by regional planning commission next year if the funding remains.
Gentile said he appreciates Wintersville voluntarily withdrawing its project from consideration. He noted it would have been difficult to compare both projects if the blight factor was considered.