Fracking in Morrow County not likely
By Randa Wagner -
Morrow County will not likely see a natural gas or oil boom like the one that occurred in the county in the 1960s.
At the August 15 commissioners meeting, Olen Jackson said he and Tom Harden met with [someone in the industry] and said, “I think we’ve been assured now that there will be no deep well (horizontal) fracking in Morrow County. So if anyone was anticipating a large source of revenue there like some of the counties have experienced, it’s not going to happen.”
“The Chesapeake (Energy) that bought up all the land in the eastern counties that people anticipated [for] Utica shale drilling; they’re not going to be doing that in Morrow County,” added Tom Whiston, “All the geology shows there’s not enough there to justify it.”
So what happens to all the people who signed on with a landowners association?
“The people who have signed agreements… sometimes they’re as good as the oil they find — nothing,” Whiston said. “The promise and allure of big money is exactly that — a promise. As with all things I would instruct people to either consult an attorney or to prudently think before they choose to do things.”
“They did three test wells: one in Richland, one in Ashland and one in Knox County to see how far west they were going to come,” Harden reported. “All three of those wells were dry.”
In an article posted on Ohio.com, Devon Energy Corp. of Oklahoma said they were disappointed by initial drilling results in Medina and Ashland counties. The article cited the two wells are farther west than most wells being drilled in Ohio’s Utica shale and are on the northwest edge of its lease holdings.
“Talk to the geologists and they’ll tell you what the story is,” Whiston said. “Anything I’ve heard from them indicates the notion that Morrow County is going to have a big windfall from Utica shale — it’s not to going to happen.”
“The recorder’s office has had no activity from these things — no leases have been filed,” said Harden.
In a telephone interview Friday, an engineer with a Texas firm explained the most relevant well to Morrow County is the Ashland well, because of the way their geological base is formed and the depth of the rock is closer to the depth in Morrow County.
“There’s a term ‘on strike’ and that just means we’re more parallel to them and Knox (County) down dip, which puts the Utica deeper in Knox County,” he said. “The way the basin is formed on the northwestern fringe, we’re kind of parallel to Ashland and Medina, and Knox is definitely deeper.”
“They’re drilling a well in Utica, which is probably the closest one to us,” Whiston. “There’s one in Licking County that’s being drilled.
Whiston related a story that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch about an ODNR representative changing a map to expanded (the formation) over into Marion County (without authorization) and, I think, down into Delware County, and he lost his job over. “It’s not an exact science but history shows that some people make an awful lot of money and other people lose all they have.”
Harden said he has been following the activity in eastern Ohio and they are gaining financially from it. They are building a couple of oil processing plants and new houses, and brought in people from all over the U.S. and different types of workers. There’s a shortage of truck drivers. All the motels are full over there and the stores and gas stations are thriving in Carroll, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties and eastern Ohio.
A meeting of the Landowner’s Association is scheduled for September 20 at 7 p.m. at the Cardington High School.
In other business”
The following pay-ins were made to Mary M. Holtrey, Morrow County Auditor:
Payments from: Ketterman residents for sewer maintenance and operations portion $89.92; Ketterman-City of Galion portion $408.64; Johnsville residents for sewer debt reserve portion $17.50; Johnsville sewer maintenance and operations portion $200.00; Johnsville sewer debt retirement portion $117.50; Edison Village for radio contract (January-June 2012) $540.00; Reimbursement from State of Ohio for portion of public defender expenses $7,147.35.
Payment was satisfied on $6,552.00 promissory note from Morrow County’s Community Housing Improvement Program on a mortgage on a Township Road 187 property through refinancing with U.S. Bank N.A.
Marengo Fabricated Steel is planning an expansion and creation of fifteen full time jobs; and an identification of historic properties must include a preliminary archaeological survey, so the commissioners authorized Patricia Davies, Director of Operations, to advertise for Professional Services for Archaeology Consultant. The Board of Morrow County Commissioners will receive RFQ’s on August 29, 2012, until 4:00 p.m., which will be held for review by Patricia Davies.
The Attorney General for the State of Ohio is providing financial assistance to local governments for the purpose of addressing vacant and abandoned homes demolition needs and Morrow County has been awarded the Moving Ohio Forward Demo Grant as lead entity.
The Moving Ohio Forward Demo guidelines require procurement of professional services, so the commissioners authorized Patricia Davies, Director of Operations, to advertise notice for a Professional Licenses Surveyor and Risk Assessment and Asbestos Assessment Contractor. The Board of Morrow County Commissioners will receive RFQ’s on August 29, 2012, until 4:00 p.m., which will be held for review by Patricia Davies.
At the request of Patricia Davies, a motion was approved to transfer from CDBG Public Rehab Sheriff’s Office to Street Improvements Kenny Lane in the amount of $30,200.00. This was grant money earmarked for paving the sheriff’s department parking lot and the balance of what was left over had to be used.
At the request of Patricia Davies, Director of Operations, $111,000.00 was appropriated from the unappropriated certified monies for the Development Office:Professional Services Engineering for the SR 95/I-71 sewer project.
At the request of Don Wake, Director of Job & Family Services, the following monies were appropriated from the unappropriated certified monies to the following new account classifications for MCTC: Principal $2,000.00, Interest $1,500.00, Lubricants $1,500.00, Tires/Tubes $1,500.00, Vehicle Materials & Supplies $4,000.00, Contract Maint. Services $7,529.56, Mobility Utilities & Phones $1,000.00, Admin Salaries & Wages $7,387.20, Admin PERS $1,034.21, Admin Medicare $147.11, Admin Uniforms $200.00, Dispatcher Salaries & Wages $12,214.80, Dispatcher PERS $1,710.07, Dispatcher Medicare $ 177.11, Dispatcher Uniforms $ 200.00, Dispatcher Insurance $ 1,843.20, Mechanic Salaries & Wages $ 9,388.80, Mechanic PERS $ 1,314.43, Mechanic Medicare $ 136.14, Mechanic Uniforms $ 450.00, Mechanic Insurance $ 1,843.20, Other Salaries & Wages $ 3,000.00, Other PERS $ 420.00, Other Medicare $ 43.50, Other Uniforms $ 200.00; For a total of $60,739.33.
At the request of Don Wake, Director Job & Family Services, the following transfer of funds for Child Support Enforcement Agency was approved: From CSEA Purchases Services to CSEA unemployment compensation $8,000.00.
The commissioners approved a request from Pat Davies to advertise for bidders for the Kenny Lane paving project, with bids to open Sept. 10 at 10 a.m.
Auditor Mary Holtrey said the budget commission (Charles Howland, Dan Green and Mary Holtrey) met and are certifying $200,000 extra dollars and are hoping for a carryover. Sales tax came in and Morrow County is 7.7% over last year. She said she knows the board of elections needs money and the judges want money but she was suggesting the commissioners apply the sum to the end of year carryover.
“We have to run January, February and part of March on carryover,” Holtrey said. “I’d like to have at least $500,000 [to carry over].”
“Anything less than $500,000 just doesn’t work,” Olen Jackson said. “We went through that a couple of years ago and we had to borrow in anticipation of collection – that’s not a good state.”
“We appreciate the budget commission and the conservative figures they give us,” Tom Harden said. “If they give us high figures and we don’t meet that certification, we’re in deep trouble.”
Tom Whiston said the commissioners met the day before with the judges and discussed the courthouse work and finalizing the courtroom.
“They have made great strides in trying to minimize the expenses they have and working with us in coordinating the work,” he said. “We’ll continue to work towards that completion.”
Referencing efforts to cut costs, Holtrey said she noticed that, for instance, when an employee left the treasurer’s office, they didn’t replace them; the Auditor’s office has gone from eight to five employees; but the judges have been hiring.
“They have gotten a couple of people through grants,” Whiston explained.
“But I’ve noticed they keep [the employee] after the grants run out,” Holtrey said.
“Overall, though, their budget was reduced,” Whiston responded. “The requests they’ve made of us is reduced significantly from where it was as well as the cost associated with furnishing the courtroom. Also the court recording system, which we are mandated to supply, has gone from about $75,000 to $43,000.”
Whiston said they will try to maintain the carry over because, with their projections of next year, ‘it’s not going to get any better.’ The commissioners will also be looking at one of their biggest costs — they estimate they will have about a million dollars in insurance.
“We’ll be looking at making some modifications to allow people more flexibility in their health care.”
They will also be looking at modifying their smoking policy.
Tom Harden announced the State Route 61 bridge over I-71 was now open in both directions and all ramps were open as well. Seeding and edge work was continuing, but the road is now open for use. The widening work on I-71 in the southbound lane continues.
The sewer project is in its second phase at SR 95 and I-71 and the money to pay the engineering firm is through borrowing from another fund. How is that money recouped?
“I think the hope is once that project is completed, and if we get the funding, it will get paid back through either user fees or from the people that are actually using the system,” Whiston said.
“There are two private systems already out there,” said Tom Harden. “But they aren’t capable of expanding to handle new industry. This is part of development to draw new industry to that interchange by putting a sewer system in.”
A resolution to sell unused county property was tabled.