In early April, a divided Ashland County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of the approximately 44,000-square-foot building at 400 Orange St. for $146,000 from the Ashland County Land  Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank).

ASHLAND -- Ashland County Commissioners approved nearly $30,000 for two projects related to the former Pump House Ministries office building at 400 Orange Street.

At their Thursday morning meeting, Commissioners agreed to pay $10,375.00 for roof repairs and $18,989 for the installation of a new gas boiler. 

The roof repairs will include installing a hatch in the roof to provides access for future elevator repairs. Work will be completed by Mowry Builders. 

"The elevator, the motor stuff, it sits on the roof and there’s a little structure around it. The money will repair that. It’s not very weather proof at the moment," Ashland County Commissioner Denny Bittle said.

The new boiler will serve as a backup for now. Only one boiler is left operating in the building currently.

"We can’t afford to have that one boiler go down, and it freeze," Bittle said.

Further, the boiler will be needed when the building is rehabbed, he continued. It will be installed by Ashland Comfort Control. 

Both projects were recommended to the Commissioners by Dennis Harris of the maintenance department. They will be paid for from the fund for capital projects. 

A timeline for the building's rehab is yet to be established. The next step will involve hiring an architect, who could outline how to best use the space.

Architects have already toured the space, but the Commissioners don't expect further action on this until after Thanksgiving at the soonest.

"With COVID and what not, we feel it’s better to just do what you can," said Commissioner Jim Justice. 

The county purchased the 44,000-square-foot building for $146,000 in April. The purchase was approved by Commissioners Mike Welch and Bittle.

Justice was the only one who voted against taking ownership of the Orange Street property in April. He cited inappropriate timing and the ongoing pandemic. 

Also at the Commissioners Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19: 

The Commissioners rejected the fact finding report, regarding collective bargaining between the Board of County Commissioners and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 8 and Ashland County Engineer.

"The Factfinder relied heavily in several issues on the language of other contracts in the County, CDJFS and Sheriff’s Office, most notably in health care and management rights.  There was an indirect reference in longevity -- a new economic cost," the report said.

The factfinder -- or third party investigator -- issued his report on Nov. 13, 2020. Both parties had until 5 p.m. Nov. 20, 2020 to accept or reject the report. If no action was taken, the report would have been deemed accepted. 

The Union had accepted the report, but Commissioners unanimously rejected. 

"We aren't allowed to reject certain parts. It's all or nothing," Welch said. 

He added that he respects the Union's right to negotiate. The Commissioners declined to comment beyond this. 

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