The Barnesville-Bradfield Airport is now under control of the Belmont County Regional Airport Authority.

Barnesville Village Administrator Roger Deal told Barnesville Village Council at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 31 that he received the Assignment and Assumption Agreement, relieving the village of responsibility of the airport The agreement was signed by the Belmont County Commissioners, the village, the airport authority and the Federal Aviation Administration.

With that agreement, the airport authority will now assume all responsibility for the airport, including previously received grants that total just over $1 million.

"We spent five years working to create the authority and pass the airport sponsorship to them," Deal said. "To my knowledge, this document is the final document."

The Belmont County Regional Airport Authority was established in 2007. The first official meeting was held on Tuesday, April 29, 2008.

Members include: C.J. (Joe) Bradfield, Shelley Rockwell, Jeff Britton, Michael B. Koonce and Joseph W. Stenger to complete the five-member board that oversees developments at the Barnesville-Bradfield Airport.

At the Aug. 31 meeting, deal also informed council of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for sludge improvement at the waste water treatment plant.

Also at the meeting, Deal announced the approval of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Sludge Improvement Project. The more than $3.3 million project has received $2.1 million in grant funding.

Mayor Tom Michelli thanked Deal for his work in securing the grant funding.

"That's a half a million dollars the people of Barnesville won't have to take out of their pocket," Michelli said.

Deal and Michelli praised A.C. Wiethe of Belomar Regional Council for his assistance as well as Tim Leasure of the Ohio Department of Development.

Council authorized Deal to advertise for bids for the project. No contract will be awarded until a 30-day period for public comment has passed and funds have been released, Deal said.

Council authorized Village Solicitor Marlin Harper to prepare an ordinance raising bulk water rates by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons. The rate increase for bulk customers will begin with the November billing. The rate was $3.45 per thousand for the first 2,000 gallons.

An ordinance passed in 2006 raises local water rates by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons each year. Council looks at bulk rates annually to decide if those should increase also.

Water and sewer rates for residential customers was increased recently too, beginning with the Oct. 1 billing. The automatic rate increase will result in customers paying 25 cents more per 1,000 gallons for the first 2,000 gallons. Sewer rates will be raised by 75 cents per 1,000 gallons for the first 2,000 gallons. After that, there will be quantity discounts for additional usage.

Council authorized Deal to advertise for Requests For Qualifications from engineering firms for a sewer line that will extend to the Eastern Ohio Industrial Park on SR 800. Deal said RFQs were received and reviewed from 10 firms for the water line project to the industrial park. Deal said after discussing that project, the group decided to advertise for RFQs for the sewer line too. Firms that submitted bids for the water line will not have to re-submit an entire bid package.

An abandoned coal mine near Barnesville Memorial Park will be closed next summer by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Harper made changes to an agreement between ODNR and the village granting a temporary easement to gain access to the mine. The changes he made further clarify that ODNR will be responsible for any damages to the village property during the project.

The abandoned mine is located on property that borders the village's property and kids have been swimming in it.

Representatives from Comcast addressed council at the meeting. Bunting invited Comcast to the meeting after he received concerns from residents regarding billing, service and the analog-digital conversion.

Frank Polito, director of government affairs for Comcast and Mike King, installation and service technician, addressed those concerns.

Council President Dale Bunting, councilman Terry McCort, and the mayor also expressed their personal concerns regarding customer service, pricing and channels.

Polito said Comcast was working to improve customer service both at the call centers and from installations.

He said telecommunication services was a very price competitive business and predicted that all channels will be digital within 10 years.

"It is a gradual process and we know it is going to be a big challenge for us," Polito said.

He said programmers are not regulated and have raised rates. Polito said some channels, such as ESPN, are very expensive.

In the street and alley Report, Deal said the street department paved 12 alleys, depleting the village's alley paving funds for the year. The Warren Avenue and Ohio Street area will be chipped and sealed soon. That project will be completed with asphalt grindings from an upcoming street paving project. Ditching will also be down on Railroad Street.

A house at 610 S. South Chestnut St., should be torn down soon. It was destroyed by an electrical fire on Friday, Aug. 28. Fire Chief Bob Smith said he sent a 30-day notice to Wells Fargo, who owns the building.

Council passed an ordinance to put first responders on the Emergency Squad pay scale, which will allow first responders to accompany the E-Squad members on runs.

Smith distributed an agreement between the village and AirEvac, a company that provides life-flight services. The contract provides compensation to the E-Squad for their transportation services of AirEvac crew to the hospital and airport. Solicitor Harper will review the contract.

Council approved building permits for Greg Wehr at 193 Bethesda Street for a porch and Carl McEndree at 411 Park Street for a garage.

Barnesville Village Council will next meet Monday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. in council chambers in the Municipal Building.