Washington County Board of Commissioners briefs

September 28, 2011

County buys highway safety equipment

The Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved spending $112,996 to buy and install safety equipment for Highway Department workers to use while cleaning large vehicles.

The county will buy four, single-post, freestanding fall-arrest systems from Lamco Safety Products Inc. of Hanover, Pa. The systems will be used at each of the Highway Department's four facilities.

The systems consist of a harness that hangs from a rail to catch the worker in the event of a fall. The harness moves along the rail, allowing the worker to move around.

The systems will be used when workers are cleaning trucks or clearing them of snow and ice, Highway Department Director Edwin Plank said.

"It just takes away all that possibility of an employee climbing up on top of that spreader and taking the wrong step and falling 12 to 14 feet to the ground," Plank said.

Last year, an employee slipped and seriously injured his knee, requiring extended time off from work, Plank said. He said he hoped to get that employee back to work after his second surgery in a couple of months.

Lamco Safety Products Inc. was the only bidder to supply and install the system, buyer Rick Curry said.

Another company indicated the systems cost $11,000 to $15,000, but the county's requirement for the vendor to take care of permitting, installation, insurance requirements and certifications likely increased the cost, Curry said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to purchase the system.

"In light of the employees' safety, I don't think we can put a price tag on that," Commissioner John F. Barr said.

New library costs increase by $137,000

The cost of the Washington County Free Library renovation and expansion project has increased by $137,176 due to the removal of pungent-smelling waterproofing material and the need for deeper-than-planned caissons, county Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III reported Tuesday.

The waterproofing material was found on an exterior basement wall where crews are expanding the basement toward South Potomac Street, Kroboth said.

The material tested negative for hazardous materials, but "emitted a really pungent petroleum-based smell and odor that would have been evident in the building once it is complete," Kroboth said.

To further eliminate the smell, the concrete was encapsulated in an epoxy material, he said.

The other added expense was because three of the 30 planned caissons — foundation shafts extending down to the bedrock — required drilling deeper than was stipulated on construction drawings, Kroboth said.

Funds for the added costs were available from the project's contingency fund.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the change order, with Commissioner John F. Barr abstaining.

The full budget for the library project is about $23.8 million.

Commissioners approve new ethics law

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a revised county ethics ordinance governing conflicts of interest, financial disclosure and lobbying involving county employees, elected officials and candidates.

The ordinance was drafted based on a state model to comply with new state requirements and replaces a much shorter version previously in place in the county, Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey has said.

A public hearing on the revised ordinance was held Sept. 20.


— Heather Keels

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