TRUMBULL COUNTY Employees take inventory in supply probe
Responsibility for ordering janitorial supplies has been moved to the commissioners office.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
AND STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Employees borrowed from other Trumbull County departments are poking through janitorial closets and sorting invoices and packing slips in the county maintenance department.
On Monday, after a briefing by officials from the county prosecutor's office, the two workers -- one from the child support enforcement agency and one from the auditor's office -- began an inventory of supplies the department purchased to clean county office buildings and the county jail.
Officials said they expect it will take two to three weeks to complete the inventory. No new supplies will be purchased until it is finished.
Purpose of work
The workers will attempt to match supplies on hand with the items the county paid for, said county Commissioner Michael O'Brien.
"It is quite an ambitious task," he said.
Their labors are part of an investigation by prosecutors and agents of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation into purchasing at the county department.
The investigation was sparked by a series of Vindicator articles about maintenance department purchasing.
Since the articles first ran in August, Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has asked BCI to probe the matter. Two BCI agents began investigating earlier this month, commissioners have said.
Watkins also has requested that the county quit doing business with Lid Chem Inc. and Tri-County Supplies, two companies that have no listed phone number and operate from the same Canfield home, and with Central Service and Supply of Brookfield. In a letter to commissioners, Watkins said officials from these companies did not cooperate with his investigation and refused to furnish business records.
Last week, Watkins added Envirochemical Inc. and Kinzua Environmental, both of Cleveland, to the list of companies under investigation.
Envirochemical did $161,844 worth of business with the county last year. Kinzua did $38,154 worth.
Lid Chem and Tri-County Supplies have collected $800,000 from the county through the maintenance department since 1993, and Central Service and Supply has made $113,000 from the county since 2000.
New purchasing director
When the maintenance department purchasing resumes, it will be under the direction of Roselyn Ferris, the commissioner's clerk and administrator, with the help of three other women on the commissioners' staff, O'Brien said.
Workers will be assigned the responsibility of receiving shipments, but commissioners have not yet determined who, he said.