Commissioners OK architect bid for WASCO building | News, Sports, Jobs

Washington County Commissioners awarded a bid to Pickering Associates on Thursday for an architectural feasibility study of the county’s vacated WASCO building off Muskingum Drive.

The building is the proposed site of a countywide 911 operation, but the 20,000-square-foot space also offers a number of possibilities for housing other tenants in addition to 911.

The bid from Pickering, which has offices in Parkersburg and Athens, came in at $22,500. One other bid was received from DesignGroup Architects of Columbus for $25,000. Both firms indicated they would agree to those amounts as flat, fixed fees, without “additional reimbursable costs” included in the contract language.

This is basically a feasibility study to show how the 911 operation can be best accommodated and what can be done with the remaining space, Commission President Charlie Schilling said.

“Let’s determine what could best co-exist with 911,” he said, adding there are a lot of possibilities, including one of several county departments being able to move there. “We need to narrow that down before we go further.”

Pickering has indicated it can have drawings done by Jan. 15.

In other business, commissioners approved $50,000 from their American Rescue Plan Act funds to reimburse the Reno Area Water and Sewer District for a new telemetry system they recently installed for their water system. The old telemetry system had been in place more than 40 years and was failing.

In a letter to commissioners, the water district officials said the old setup required parts of the system to be run manually at all hours of the day and night, and there was no way to know exactly when system operations needed to be shut off to prevent tanks from overflowing. The new system allows the district to provide water service continuously, without interruption, the letter said. In addition, it gives the staff maximize effectiveness in taking care of problems as quickly as possible.

Commissioners received an application from County Engineer Roger Wright to apply for a Community Development Block Grant program Critical Infrastructure Grant for a new truss bridge over Washington County 76 in Lowell at Cat Creek. This is the first time Wright has applied for this type of grant, he said, and it was a little bit more different than others he has done. But the grant would cover 65 percent of a $564,000 bridge, so it is well worth the effort to try it, he said.

Wright said County 76 is a very busy road and it will be inconvenient when the work is in progress and it’s closed to traffic. But he will try to time the road closing for May, June and July, when there is no school traffic.

Commissioners also approved a second, revised version of a joint user agreement with the Historic Harmar Bridge Company and the City of Marietta. The county approved an initial version of the agreement proposed by HHBC several weeks ago. In seeking Marietta’s approval, however, HHBC made revisions the city wanted.

All three groups are now signed participants of the revised version. Among other things, the joint user agreement will help HHBC make use of an Ohio HB 687 capital grant appropriation to recoup the $50,000 it raised and spent to have an underwater and superstructure inspection of the bridge.

The Washington County Courthouse will be closed Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving. Schilling said employees under commissioners’ jurisdiction will be paid for Friday, but he feels this should not be a department-by-department decision where some employees get a paid Friday for the holiday and some do not.

“I think it’s important to be consistent on this in the future,” he said.

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