By JD LONG
NEW PHILADELPHIA – The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) reported positive news in their royalty revenue and various shoreline and marina projects. Chief of Conservation Brad Janssen reported on the Utica royalty situation for the MWCD and said there was a 4 percent increase for the month of January for a total of $616,796.
“Month over month that is pretty much directly attributed to again, volumes and commodity prices continuing to tick up,” Janssen explained. He called it a nice start to the new year as it being the first royalty report of 2021.
Looking forward he said they were “cautiously optimistic” with oil surpassing the $50 per barrel mark and gas nearing $3 (mcl) and calling it a good recovery. He said others in the oil and gas industry are also cautiously optimistic with rigs “steadily but slowly going up” and mentioned “five to seven” rigs in Ohio and picking up in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well. He said they would be adjusting as they go forward with forecasting their royalty report aside from what world events may be out of their control.
For the engineering report, Chief Engineer Boris Slogar told the board Tappan Marina’s rebuild is ongoing and going well and it is on schedule “and no issues there.” It was reported from the last meeting that they would need to find a new vendor for that establishment as the Murray’s are stepping down.
Chief of Recreation Ryan McCleaster told the board he’s had several meetings with individuals as he’s been scoping out the replacement prospects. He said he hoped to have a vendor identified in time for the March meeting (March 26).
Board Member Robert Moorehead asked about the opening timeline for Tappan and McCleaster said hopefully from “mid-June to July for the operation to start.” He said they were looking at other possibilities such as the new vendor providing a food truck until the facility is completed to just the main floor completed and useable.
Also, all of the MWCD’s shoreline projects have been “substantially completed” but left open the possibility of the usual spring follow up work. Slogar said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun the refill at all of their reservoirs since Feb. 15. He said Atwood Lake was just beginning as they were a week behind schedule at the MWCD’s request.
“And things are moving very well in the shoreline area,” Slogar stated. McCleaster announced four ongoing operational audits at their marinas and deputy chief of marinas was one of the changes submitted for approval. He told the board there would be more ideas to come such as the annual Alive Festival “pending COVID restrictions.”
Board Member Joanne Limbach asked about consistencies in the various counties regarding COVID protocol considering the MWCD covers 18 counties. Executive Director Craig Butler stated there was not the consistency last year but hoped it would be better this year.
Butler said at one time last year some of their parks restrictions were split by county with half being open and the other part closed.
“And we could not get despite our efforts to talk with local health departments, we reached out to the state health department…and it just would never happen,” Butler explained where they also reached out to the lieutenant governor’s office for some clarity as well.