TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials pursue using treatment plant

One commissioner questions the potential cost of ownership.
WARREN -- Despite some controversy, Trumbull County commissioners have taken another step toward using a former Kraft Foods waste treatment plant in Kinsman Township to provide sewers to residents.
Commissioners Daniel Polivka and James Tsagaris approved Thursday an addendum to a purchase agreement, which had been previously signed between the commissioners and current owners Smearcase LLC of Andover. The addendum gives the county $50,000 for treatment plant maintenance and 24 months to return it to the previous owners.
In April, commissioners passed a resolution to buy the treatment plant from Smearcase for $1. Smearcase had bought the dairy products plant from Kraft.
Commissioner Paul E. Heltzel has made several arguments against the purchase, such as whether the plant would cost the county money in the future if it never gets used and must be disposed of, and whether Kinsman residents might prefer to upgrade their septic systems.
Heltzel voted against agreeing to the addendum. "You begin to wonder if this is for the good of Kinsman residents or a developer wanting to get sewer to develop their property," he said, referring to Smearcase.
Kinsman residents use individual septic systems to treat sewage. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concern about health issues because many of the septic systems are not functioning properly.
Heltzel had mentioned during a planning meeting Wednesday that a letter from MS Consultants Inc. of Youngstown warned that the county should examine several additional issues before taking plant ownership. One issue is the condition of the equipment. Gary Newbrough, county sanitary engineer, said he would look into the issues -- but commissioners didn't ask Newbrough anything more Thursday before voting.
Commissioners split
Heltzel said one purpose of the plant will be to accept septic tank refuse from the Kinsman area, which will greatly reduce the costs to the companies in that business. He wondered if reducing such costs won't encourage some people to keep their septic systems.
Alan Knapp, county planning director, and Polivka have said they believe in the project.
"Alan [Knapp] and everybody says it is a win, but we want to be doubly sure," Polivka said of taking over the plant.
In other action, commissioners authorized Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to purchase surveillance equipment for the courthouse at a cost of $9,895.
Polivka also said it is too early to tell whether the commissioners will be able to honor the request of Sheriff Thomas Altiere to bring back 13 deputies on layoff, to allow him to reopen the second floor of the Trumbull County Jail.
Commissioners also approved $24,865 for repairs to the Trumbull County Courthouse.

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