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Abstractors are addressed

By Staff | Sep 14, 2011

The Tyler County Commissioners devoted a good portion of Tuesday morning’s meeting addressing a request from Joshua Ozement and Judy Mellor of PetroEdge concerning the company’s use of the court house records room by abstractors.

“We are very engaged in Tyler County right now,” said Ozement. “We are here to gain information about use of the records and to discuss courthouse etiquette as it pertains to us.”

“We absolutely welcome you here,” commented commission President Charles “Pork” Smith. “We feel the benefits far outweigh the problems (concerning drilling on the Marcellus Shale) but it is a double-edged sword.”

PetroEdge rep Ozemont requested commission consider extending operating hours of the courthouse, adding, “We would gladly pay for the cost of having the courthouse open for the extra hours.”

Commission informed Ozemont the courthouse currently was open for extended hours the first Thursday of every month until 6 p.m. However, Assessor Jack Hayes explained the extension was the time he and his staff utilized the records room.

“If we fill up on those Thursday nights, it takes up the time our office uses to get our work done. The records room is too full (of abstractors) during the day.”

“We can’t open on Saturday’s just for your workers,” added commissioner John Stender. “You’d essentially be paying for other companies to use the room as well.”

“I can tell you right now, our circuit clerk’s office will not be open on Saturdays,” added Stender. “That is up to the discretion of the judge. “

“I feel we’ve kind of bent over backwards for the abstractors,” remarked Jack Hayes. “We installed outlets and set up tables in the hallway, and took some flak for that. The county workers need access to those records to do the work of the public.”

“What we ask, while we welcome everybody to have access, is to take care of what materials you use,” said Stender.

Ozemont and Ms. Mellor assured commissioners their workers would respect the needs of the public.

“Our people are supposed to step out (of the records room) if someone needs access,” said Ms. Mellor. “We have a good rapport with the local people. I want to vouch for our contracted employees,” she added.

“All our workers are local,” added Ozemont. “We have no one working who is from out of state.”

“I started out in this business as an abstractor,” explained Ozemont. “I’ve worked in 30 or so counties, in 5 different states. The first thing you learn is to respect the circuit clerk’s office and to take care of the record books.”

“What we’ll do here, is go with what our county employees think is best, said President Smith. “We’ll talk to our department heads this week and see if we can come up with a consensus, then contact you.”

“We’ll abide by what our employees want, and do what we can to help you,” he added.

Sistersville City Commissioner Vance Ash also addressed commissioners with a request for funds needed to repair a bridge located in front of Sistersville City Park.

“It’s a heavily trafficked bridge, and it’s in bad shape,” explained Ash. “I’ve already contacted the DNR. I’ve talked to our local legislators (Romine, Edgell, and Kessler).

“I don’t think it’s something we can do,” said commissioner Smith. “It’s a municipal issue, and it would be opening a big can of worms for us. We’re afraid it could cause major problems for commission.”

“Well, we (City of Sistersville) can do the actual work,” noted Ash. “We just need help to buy materials.”

County Commissioner Eric Vincent told Ash, “I did stop by and look at the bridge. It’s possible the Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council would help. I will contact them today.”

“I”m not looking at it as a big expense,” explained Ash. “We’re thinking $5,000 to $7,000.”

Commissioners told Ash they would do what they could to help find a way to fund the needed repairs.

Commission voted to approved a hardware maintenance service agreement pending some changes in the document. The contract covers voting machines, and is an “upgrade from our previous contract,” remarked Vincent. Commission voted authority to sign the amended contract to Charles “Pork” Smith. Voting equipment will undergo public testing Sept. 16 at the courthouse.

Commissioners also approved rescheduling of their October 11 meeting date to October 12, and approved a bid of $880 from Jerry Chico to repair courthouse gutters.

“It has to be done,” said Commissioner Stender. “I just don’t see any way around it. If it’s not done before winter, the whole gutter system could come down.”

Stender also informed commission the new exercise equipment for the Senior Center had arrived. “It’s open to anyone who wants to use the facility,” he noted, adding, “There is a nominal fee if you are not a Senior.”

County Commissioner Vincent addressed members concerning the P-Card use and described problems found by the State Auditor’s office.

“There is use of multiple employees on the same card,” he said. “The policy is one person per card.”

P-card transactions require bi-level approval as well, and P-card use has had problems with receipts not signed, statements not signed, and other issues.

“We’ve got to get this under control,” said Vincent, “or else we’ll have to start shutting off use of the cards.”

Also approved was a request from Children’s Advocate Shawna Griffith that commission act as fiscal agent for a $5,000 grant which will be used for office furniture for CAC’s facility.

Minutes, exonerations, clerk’s fiduciary report, and payment of bills were all approved by commission.

Those attending the meeting included Eric Vincent, Charles “Pork” Smith, John Stender, D. Luke Furbee, Vance Ash, Joshua Ozement, Judy Mellor, County Clerk Teresa Hamilton, Deputy Clerk Amy Glover, Jackson Hayes and Cpl. Shannon Huffman, representing Tyler County Sheriff’s Office.