A move by Rover Pipeline that destroyed a piece of Carroll County history has resulted in a windfall that the county will receive to preserve its historic areas.
According to information presented at the March 20 meeting of the county's board of commissioners, Carroll County will receive $100,000 as part of a mitigation agreement requiring Rover Pipeline LLC to pay a fine for demolishing the historic Stoneman House near Leesville last summer.
The proposal for the $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas Rover Pipeline was awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May of 2015 when Rover purchased the 173-year-old Stoneman House on Azalea Road.
Although the house had not yet been designated an historic landmark, it was under consideration to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Rover initially reported to FERC that it planned to use the house for office space, but the company decided the house was not suited for the purpose.
In May of 2016 Rover demolished the structure. However, it did not disclose its plan to do so with FERC or with the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which consults with FERC about the possible effects of pipeline projects on historic sites.
In February this year FERC granted approval for the Rover Pipeline project to move forward, but the federal agency also required the pipeline company to pay a penalty for razing the Stoneman House.
According to a March 10 letter from the Ohio History Connection, which houses the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, a mitigation agreement between OSHPO and Rover is requiring the company to pay $1 million that will distributed to the 18 Ohio counties through which the pipeline will run.
According to the letter, 17 of the counties will each receive $50,000, while Carroll will receive $100,000 because it was the location of the Stoneman House.
Funds must be used to preserve or rehabilitate existing historic properties; establish or support education programs that raise awareness of historic preservation; or to conduct other projects that preserve historic areas within the county.
Each county's board of commissioners is authorized to select which projects within their county the funds can support. Carroll commissioners said they plan to accept applications from historical societies and other groups over the next three weeks.
Applications will be due to the board of commissioners office by 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 10. A meeting for all interested groups will be held on Thursday, April 13, with the final award of funds to be presented on Monday, April 17.
The board noted that it must submit to the state the final list of projects for funding by late April. Funding will be received in June.
Among a wide range of other topics that commissioners discussed at their March 20 and March 16 meetings were recent changes to Ohio's concealed carry law and the effects on county policies.
Commissioners, in response to a request from the county's insurance provider, CORSA, addressed whether Senate Bill 199 should change county policies governing individuals who enter or work in county-owned buildings.
The matter raised some debate. Board President Jeff Ohler and Vice President Robert Wirkner passed a motion to keep the county's existing policy, albeit with an amendment, while Commissioner Lewis Mickley dissented.
SB 199, which Governor John Kasich signed late last year, mandated changes that will allow more Ohioans with concealed carry licenses to carry and transport their firearms.
The law now allows governing bodies, such as county boards of commissioners, to implement policy allowing licensees to carry their handguns into government-owned buildings.
The law also prohibits businesses, property owners and employers from establishing policies that forbid licensees from transporting or storing their firearms or ammunition in their own vehicles. The change specifies that firearms and ammunition must be locked in an enclosed compartment within the individual's vehicle.
Wirkner and Ohler voted to keep the county's current policy, which forbids the carrying of firearms in county-owned buildings, but to amend the policy in compliance with SB 199. Ohler noted that the policy will be amended to allow county employees with licenses to keep their firearms and ammunition in their vehicles provided that they abide by the law's requirements.
Mickley, voting against the motion, stated that he believes people who have obtained their concealed carry licenses should be able to carry their firearms in any location allowed by the law.
"I'm of the opinion that the concealed carry, they've been through training, they've learned how to handle their weapon. They should be able to carry anywhere that it is not prohibited by law," he stated.
"I understand that there's a gray area with liability at this point. Everybody seems to be extremely hesitant to be among the early ones to allow," he added.
"I understand what you're saying...they went through the licensing. In county-owned buildings...it has been determined if we move towards that, if our liability insurance would go up... I just look at this as, it's not a need," Ohler replied.
In other business, the board:
HELD a public hearing to announce that board will accept applications for projects to be funded by the state-awarded Community Housing Impact and Preservation and Community Development Block Grant programs.
According to Rebecca Hall, of Hall Community Development, which prepares CHIP and CDBG applications for the county, the CHIP program provides $400,000 to be used for home repair and rehabilitation projects at low- and moderate-income residences. Eligible projects include the installation or repair of hot water heaters, furnaces, new roofs, and work to bring houses up to current building codes.
The CDBG program funds infrastructure projects, such as water and sewer lines and road paving, in low- to moderate-income areas.
All municipalities and townships will receive details and application instructions for both programs in the mail.
Hall noted that a budget proposal currently under review at the federal level will, if passed, de-fund the CDBG program, which could result in a lack of funding for projects in 2018. She said Carroll County might receive enough funding this year to support projects into 2018, but details about available funding will not be released from the state until late next month.
HEARD the County Dog Pound report for March 12 18: four dogs impounded, two adopted, one redeemed, none euthanized, four citations for no license and no citations for running at large.
ANNOUNCED that the board planned to meet with Congressman Bill Johnson on March 24 to discuss the status of the county's grant pending with the Economic Development Administration for the Northern Corridor water and sewer project.
APPROVED a final payment of $1.46 million to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to complete the requirements of the amended Atwood Lake Resort donation agreement. Ohler confirmed that the payment was to return unspent funds from the Atwood Resort account.
APPROVED a lease with KS State Bank, based in Kansas, for three payments of $56,699 each March beginning 2018 to purchase an excavator for the county engineer's office.
APPROVED a recommendation from Kate Offenberger, director of Job and Family Services, to hire Lisa Guidone as a unit support worker at a wage of $14.62 per hour effective April 3.
HEARD a presentation from Perry Alexandrides, representing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, about Husted's recent request not to receive any state General Fund revenue. Alexandrides said Husted plans to make his office self-sufficient and to operate without taxpayer revenue.