PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman was sworn in for another term of office, Thursday afternoon by Portsmouth Municipal Judge Steven Mowery.
Opperman said with his new term he plans to keep existing programs in place and always be on the look out for sources of funding.
“This term is going to be a continuation of the previous term. Our intentions is to keep the good things we have going,” Opperman said.
He said one of the biggest issues facing his office is finding ways to fund various projects.
“We are having issues of funding, just like every other government office. So, it’s going to be struggle in order to keep the programs going that we’ve got going. We keep trying to find additional grant funds in order to keep these programs going,” Opperman said. “Fortunately we’ve got a great group of people working that is are very suited for their positions; to help me get the work done that we need to get done.”
He said the funding problem has always been a challenge for his office.
“You can only get done what you have the money to do and the need is great,” Opperman said. “When you are maintaining 414 miles of roadway and 491 bridges, it costs a lot of money to keep everything maintained.”
Opperman reflected on the accomplishments his office has had during his tenure. He said they include the implementation of a culvert program, the paving of Ohio River Road in Wheelersburg and bringing guardrail to a number of county roadways along with many others.
“We’ve also brought in a tremendous amount of grant money over the past four years and we want to continue to do that. That’s one of the things you can get a warm and fuzzy feeling about. Instead of having all of those federal dollars we generate here going out of the county, we want to pull those back in and bring them back,” Opperman said.
He said it would be hard to determine the exact amount of federal funds brought back into the county and invested in projects.
“If you look at the Ohio River Road project there’s over a million dollars. We’ve done over four years of guardrail and you’re talking over a million dollars there,” Opperman said.
He said there are many projects on the horizon for the engineer’s office.
“We’ve got a number of projects on the horizon, that we have money lined up for, kind of like the Washington Boulevard project. We have a guardrail project that we are working right now to push up, so we can get it done sooner,” Opperman said. “We are continually pushing projects to get them done as early as we can to help our county out.”
In August, a federal grant of $285,025 was awarded to fund needed repairs and upgrades to the Otway Covered Bridge. In order to receive the funding, $70,000 needs to be raised by the community as matching funds.
Opperman has taken on the task of helping to find the needed funding.
“That’s a tremendous challenge in and of itself. We are working to figure out the financing on that and getting that project where we can get it to fruition. We are pushing hard on that,” Opperman said. “We are in the process now of working to select a consultant. We are advertising now for a consultant on the project.”
He said the project remains in motion and is being pushed as hard as it can be pushed, until things are straightened out with the state.
“We are not going to do anything with the consultant until we get the federal funds encumbered, which is our next step,” Opperman said. “It will be a struggle to get this done but, we intend to get it done. We are going to have to pursue every avenue we can to get this thing funded.”
For more information about the Scioto County Engineer’s Office visit, www.sciotocountyohio.com or call 740-355-8265 or 740-259-5541.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.