MOUNT VERNON — Trail enthusiasts looking forward to the eventual completion of the Heart of Ohio Trail between Centerburg and Mount Vernon have cause for appreciating the slow movement of government, for once. If work on the trail were left up to the current economy, work would have ground to a halt due to the county’s recent budget crises. But the grants funding the bridge restoration projects on the trail were completed prior to the recent shortfalls. That the money is only now coming through the pipeline is typical of the lag time related to grants, but in this scenario, it allows for work to continue on the trail.
The grants, from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, are for bridges one and two on the Heart of Ohio Trail, crossing Dry Run and Dry Creek, respectively, between Columbus Road and Thayer Road. In addition to cleaning and repairing the steel superstructures of the bridges, new, precast concrete decks will be installed to carry the trail across the streams. According to Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger, costs on the two bridges were brought down when the county switched engineers. The previous engineers had submitted an estimate of nearly $200,000 for the bridges, while the new engineers, ADR and Associates of Newark, brought the projects in at less than $120,000.
The bidding for construction was won by Mohican Valley Builders of Danville, which submitted a bid of $95,676.80. The company was able to beat competitors due to an efficient plan which involves placing a temporary trolley and crane on top of the bridge to allow the installation of pre-cast concrete sections instead of building forms and pouring on site. Construction, including shoring up of bridge foundations, is currently under way.
In other business, Roger J. Shooter, director of the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services, announced Monday morning to the commissioners that he would be retiring, effective Nov. 1. Shooter has been director of DJFS for the last 15 years and has been in other leadership positions prior to that since 1974.
Shooter cited accomplishments integrated and achieved during his tenure: Welfare reform, two new buildings, two renovated buildings, a unique public-private partnership with the Village Network, thousands of policy changes, SACWIS (statewide automated child welfare information systems), and more.
“Our staff working as a team has always delivered and we continue to do so in these troubled times,” Shooter wrote in his retirement announcement, addressed to Stockberger as president of the Board of Commissioners. He expressed his appreciation of the board’s support, and drew particular attention to Stockberger’s long service and the insights that brings. Shooter closed by saying that any time the county should need temporary assistance on any projects, the commissioners should not hesitate to call him.
The commissioners also updated the county’s sick leave payment and retirement policy to straighten out some taxation issues which had been brought to their attention.