In response to the editorial in the Tribune Chronicle on May 11, so eloquently titled ''Shenanigans ...'' you chose to point out that Trumbull County Highway Engineer Randy Smith hired 14 people who are ''politically connected,'' and included myself, a former Liberty trustee.
Being that I am the only active employee you chose to name, while pointing out that my ''position still exists'' even though ''drilling in Trumbull County has virtually ended,'' I offer the following:
I was recommended to Smith by a three-person panel comprised of representatives from each of the three entities that fund my position - the Trumbull County Township Association; county villages; and the Engineer's Office. They interviewed candidates from a pool of 30 applicants. I was selected and began in January of 2013, not March of 2012 as reported.
As to your statement ''Drilling in Trumbull County has virtually ended, yet the position still exists ...'', it is true drilling has temporally halted in Trumbull County; however, RUMAs (Road Use Maintenance Agreements) are still in place and continue to be sought. Miles of roadway are to be paved this year from drilling pads built last year. Injection well operators are now signing RUMAs and other like agreements with our office due to our persistence with them in protecting the integrity of our roads and bridges.
An agreement for road repairs and improvements was passed by the Trumbull County commissioners on May 21, with FirstEnergy due to line upgrades that have become intrusive on our roadways. This agreement involves 12 miles of roads and bridges.
Pipeline installers who have scheduled work throughout the county also are signing agreements to utilize roads and road rights-of-way. All of the above mentioned items fall under the responsibilities of the RUMA coordinator and will be executed over the next 12 to 18 months.
The industry will determine the future of the position. BP has announced that it will sell its leases to other gas and oil companies, which may decide to drill on some of those parcels.
As for your statement that Smith hired 14 people who were either former political officials or related to political officials, no mention is made of the 24 employees who Smith inherited with political connections, either directly or by family relation, as well as those hired through relatives either currently or formally employed there.
Through Smith's efforts, Trumbull County communities have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by installing a salt storage facility large enough to store material with all communities; instituting a program to make cold mix asphalt and offering it to all of the same communities, saving $20 a ton; and offering them use of county equipment that most do not possess and employees to operate at only the cost of those employees' wages. Through these efforts as well as his ability and persistence to obtain funds for communities through Issue 1 and other state and federal grants, Trumbull County residents have been well served by his office.
Simon is the Trumbull County Highway Engineer's Office Road Use Maintenance Agreement coordinator.