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News 2001


December, 2001

    Draft-Co hosted an Autodesk Seminar December 5 in Columbus.  Over 60 Autodesk users attended, most from the government sector.  Autodesk staff covered new features in AutoCAD 2002, Field Survey, LandXML, and Land Development Desktop.  They covered the direction Autodesk is moving in GIS.  Space Imaging reviewed satellite imagery availability. 

    Of note to AutoCAD R14 users is that January 15 is the last day to upgrade from R14.  During a break I saw Stu Davis of OGRIP and he said plans are in the works for another Tax Map Seminar this coming Spring.  Last year’s was a big success.  Stu is also slated to be a presenter at PLSO’s annual conference this coming February.

        At the Winter Conference of County Commissioners and Engineers on December 11 there was a session by the County Sanitary Engineers Association on GIS for Water and Sewer Applications.  A representative from ESRI noted that a database structure for water systems is available on their web site for download.

    ODNR hosted a session on their “Abandoned Mines Lands Educational Outreach Program” December 12 in Reynoldsburg.  We learned that mapping of abandoned mines is available in ArcView format.  We need to look into this for our GIS, as ODNR is interested in getting this mapping to potential landowners.

        We received imagery from Kucera International for the pilot area around Bethesda, and some planimetrics for part of Bethesda.  Four tiles at 1”=200’ and four tiles at 1”=100’ were included on CD.  Also, a Trimble GeoExplorer3 handheld GPS unit has been delivered.  A brief training session will be conducted next month.

November, 2001

    GIS Day was Wednesday, November 14.  Letters to the superintendents of Belmont County schools were mailed, explaining the county is developing a GIS, and encouraging students to do some web surfing on the topic of GIS.  A GIS Day brochure was written and printed in color.  Copies were distributed to the school superintendents, county departments and to the township trustees at their monthly meeting November 12.

An exhibit was set up in the hallway of the courthouse where people could see a computer demonstration of tax section maps superimposed on a 1994 aerial image of the county.  This caught the interest of many people.  Several attorneys, surveyors, real estate people and a college instructor were very interested in the mapping capabilities they saw.  It so happened that flu shots were administered and a sheriff’s sale took place in the hallway that day, bringing more people in than usual.

A contest to guess the number of small elbow macaronis in a decorative jar was held.  Congratulations to Jo Ann Kightlinger of the Clerk of Courts Office who guessed 4,052.  She won the jar and macaroni, and some homemade buckeyes.  Second place winner was Howard Thornton and third place Mary Ann Domyan, who guessed 3,642 and 3,568 respectively.  The correct number was 4,044.


August, 2001

    It has been four years since we began to keep a history of deed transfers on the computer.  When a parcel is transferred, prior owner information is kept in the appropriate township file.  This information is based on the Auditor’s parcel number, and is available by pressing Alt-H when viewing a property record on the public access computers.  As time goes on, more and more history records will become available digitally.

    On July 23, employees began saving deed closures run on computer.  Previously closures were not saved to disk.  Now closures are saved in a systematic fashion, providing capability to “dxfin” new and existing descriptions into the digital tax map files.

     We received contact prints from Kucera International for the entire county July 24.  These prints are at a 1”=1600’ scale.  On July 26 we received the 1”=800’ contact prints for the municipal areas.  The color prints are clear and crisp.

    A new HP DesignJet 5000 plotter has been acquired.  Since it was purchased before the end of July, we are able to trade in the seven year-old HP DesignJet 600 for $2,000.00 cash back from HP.  A computer for GIS work has also been received.  The Pentium 4, 1.7 GHz machine has 1 GB RAM and two 40 GB hard drives, and will be used for working with GIS imagery.  The current upgrade to AutoCad Land Development Desktop was received August 16.

     One year ago this month:

    The GIS Committee appeared before the Belmont County Commissioners and outlined their proposal for a new GIS department.

July, 2001

Belmont County GIS Receives ESRI/NACo Grant! - 07/02/01
We were notified by the National Association of Counties that Belmont County is one of the recipients of the Intermediate Level Grant Program in the NACo/ESRI Technology Foundation Grant Series. This will entitle Belmont County to the following:

- one license of ArcInfo
- one license of ArcGIS Spatial Analyst or ArcGIS 3D Analyst
- a one-year, ten seat Training Subscription that includes access to all ESRI Virtual Campus web courses
- access to the Geography and ArcData Online programs
- one GIS for Everyone from ESRI Press
- one Guide to GIS Analysis from ESRI Press
- access to GDT's Community Update Program

Thank you, NACo and ESRI!

Lake and Madison Counties in Ohio were also awarded this grant, in addition to 42 other counties nationwide.  Ashland, Henry, Highland, Knox, Meigs and Sandusky Counties were among 41 counties nationwide awarded the Introductory Level GIS grants.

Other July News

     We received sample contact photo prints from Kucera International July 6 of the Piedmont Lake and south Yorkville areas.  We gave approval to continue with production.

     The recorded plats are all scanned!  Erik Porter finished this project June 28, and we zipped the .tif files.  Cabinets A-D fit on one CD, with Cabinet E on a second.  Thanks, Erik, for a job well done!  Several local surveyors have already picked up CDs.

     Software upgrades have been received for AutoCAD Map and AutoCAD Lite.  Upgrades for AutoCAD Land Development Desktop should be here soon.  These are part of the VIP program, with upgrade costs included in the original purchase price.

     On July 17 I attended a one day class on Microsoft FrontPage at Belmont Technical College.  Instructor Tom Dulaney did another excellent job of teaching new web tips to a class which included a township trustee and city clerk.

June, 2001

    ArcView 8 software was received May 25. This is a maintenance upgrade. Six packages have been distributed to the County Auditor, County Engineer, E-911, Sanitary Sewer District, NRCS and GIS Department.

     On June 1 Jack Hamilton delivered coordinate values for ground control points set for aerial photography.  The values have been forwarded to Kucera International.  A listing of these values is available on the web – click the GIS button on the County Engineer’s web site at

     Summer employee Erik Porter is making excellent progress in scanning the recorded plats.  Erik has finished Cabinets A, B and C and is half done with Cabinet D.  The images are in .tif format.

     On June 13 the electrical contractor for the new Lloydsville garage reviewed wiring plans with architect Larry Siebieda, superintendent Dave Sloan and myself.  Receptacle locations were finalized for the GIS office.  The building steel is erected at this point.

 May, 2001

    John Parkinson and myself attended a free seminar sponsored by Microsoft, Compaq, Softchoice and New Horizons on April 26 in Wheeling.  Topics covered included operating systems, MS Office XP, software piracy, licensing and bCentral.  The next version of the Office products will be out this summer.  Features have been added and enhanced to save time and improve convenience.  We received trial versions of Office XP, FrontPage, Visio and MapPoint.

     May 7 was the first day Erik Porter returned to his summer job. Erik is a Junior civil engineering student at Youngstown State University, and worked in our office last year.  He is taking GIS courses as part of his engineering curriculum.  Erik has begun scanning recorded plats with our new scanner.  Welcome back, Erik!

     On May 9 I attended a free presentation by CompassCom on GPS receivers.  Featured were Trimble GeoExplorer 3 and Pathfinder Pro XR/XRS receivers.  Mark Dann of ESRI gave an overview on ArcGIS 8.  A demonstration was given using the Pathfinder software in conjunction with a mapping exercise in the parking lot.

     An Ohio Tax Map Workshop by CAAO, CEAO and OGRIP was held May 22 and 23 in Columbus.  I was asked to explain how Belmont County’s tax map system works, and what changes could be made to improve the system.

     Kucera International reported that the aerial photography taken April 14 and 19 turned out well.  We should be receiving a set of contact prints soon.  Flagged targets are being removed by Hamilton & Associates.

April, 2001

    Jim Forshey of NRCS and myself attended a free seminar sponsored by ESRI on March 29 in Columbus.  They event’s focus was a rollout of the new ArcGIS 8 software to be shipped in the next few weeks.  The county owns ArcView 3.2a, which will be upgraded to ArcView 8.  Since we purchased maintenance with ArcView 3.2a, we will receive the upgrade for no additional cost.  However, ArcView 8 requires the Windows 2000 operating system, and will not run on Windows 95/98.

     On Tuesday, April 3, Jim Davenport II of Draft-Co invited me to speak at the noon luncheon meeting of the St. Clairsville Rotary Club.  I talked about the need for GIS by demonstrating the difficulty in working with maps of varying scales and varying information.  The topic seemed to hold the attention of the crowd, as many of them work with real estate one way or another.

     Rainy, cloudy and windy weather has been the rule for April, making it difficult for Kucera to capture countywide aerial photography.  However, on Saturday, April 14, they were able to fly the 1”=200’ scale areas countywide.  On the next good weather day, they will capture the 1”=100’ scale areas.  Jack A. Hamilton and Associates has set another 11 targets which are needed for the low altitude, basically municipal flight areas.

     I have been working on a deed transfer database program this month.  Our existing DOS program works well for a single user, but we need to upgrade to multiuser functionality.  Also, a 36” wide scanner has been ordered and is in shipment.  This piece of equipment will be used for scanning recorded plats and other maps.

March, 2001

    On February 20 a kick-off meeting was held at the Belmont County 911 meeting room with Kucera International, Inc. and the GIS Committee.  Kucera has been contracted to fly the county this spring, and to deliver digital orthophotography and planimetrics during the upcoming months.  A pilot project will be conducted in the Bethesda area.

     John Antalovich, Jr., President of Kucera, covered the details of target placement with Jack Hamilton of Hamilton and Associates of Flushing, Ohio.  These targets are visible from the air, and will be GPS’d for ground control points in analyzing the aerial photography.  Also present for Kucera were Ralph Magnus, Manager of the Columbus Office, and Dan Debiase, Image Processing Manager.  A tile naming convention for images was decided on.  Survey control will be based on the North American Datum of 1983 with the 1995 adjustment (NAD 83/95) upon the recommendation of Jack Hamilton.  Jack reported March 20 that the control points are all set.  Now we need good weather.

     Six copies of ArcView 3.2a were obtained this month, along with a copy of AutoDesk’s Land Development Desktop Map 2000i and Visual dBase2000.  I attended an excellent two-day training class on AutoCad Map 2000i presented by Jeff Juniewich at DraftCo, Inc. in Martins Ferry March 5 and 6.  Jeff uses AutoCad Map and ArcView side by side in GIS applications.  County employees from Washington County were also present, as well as their house numbering consultant.

     I attended the CEAO Computer Committee meeting in Columbus on March 15.  At this meeting, a volunteer from Lucas County expressed interest in writing a Windows version of the CEAO bridge inspection and inventory program.  The DOS version of this program is in use by most of Ohio’s counties, and some municipalities and consultants.  Although I was heavily involved in writing the DOS version, I declined the Windows re-write task since I am now focusing on the county’s GIS program.

     On March 6, John Christopher named employee Chuck Fillipovich as GIS representative for the Belmont County Sanitary Sewer Department.  Chuck has been converting the mapping of the county’s water lines with AutoCad for several years, along with other duties.  He is a graduate of Belmont Technical College’s Civil Engineering Associate Degree program.  We look forward to working with Chuck.

     Ruth Graham began working for the Engineer March 26.  She is filling the position formerly occupied by John Parkinson.

     Thanks to everyone for their cooperation in getting the county GIS program established.  It takes all of us to make it work.

Fall 2000/Winter 2001

Digital Orthophotography for Belmont County
Belmont County 911 requested proposals for digital orthophotography to be flown in the Spring of 2001. The RFP was approved for release by the Commissioners at Friday's meeting Nov. 17. "Notice to Bidders" was published in The Times Leader on Tuesday, November 28, 2000 and Tuesday December 05, 2000. Written question submission deadline was Wed. December 20. Responses to written questions were distributed December 29. Proposal was due January 12, 2001.

Results of bid openings were turned over to E-911 and GIS Committee for review and recommendation.
The GIS Committee met January 18 and decided to focus on Plan B, 1"=200' and 1"=100' mapping, color, 10' contours. The Committee met again January 24, and decided to recommend Kucera International, Inc. of Willoughby, Ohio for $320,078.00. On January 26 the Commissioners accepted the recommendation and awarded the aerial mapping project to Kucera.



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