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News 2002

December, 2002

As a result of GIS Day November 20, several schools took advantage of the offer of a set of CDs containing the digital orthophotography for Belmont County.  Requests were received from St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry, Shadyside, Union Local, Belmont Technical College, and the Belmont County Educational Service Center.  We also received TV and newspaper coverage of the day’s events.

Class C concrete monuments have been set at the Lloydsville Garage and at Nelson Field, Bellaire, thanks to help from Carey Greco, Buckey Thornton and Don Buonamici.  Berntsen’s bronze 4 inch diameter markers, stamped “Belmont County Engineer - Geodetic Control”, will be grouted into the tops of the monuments.  These monuments will be observed next spring as part of NGS’s reobservation and establishment of a new datum.  In November a monument was also set by the City of St. Clairsville at the gazebo area of the Bike Trail.  PLSO, Ohio Valley Chapter, and the GIS Office will establish coordinate values as a service to the community.

A dual-frequency GPS receiver was delivered this month.  The Ashtech Z-Xtreme unit will be used to observe the above-mentioned monuments.  It will also be used in the process of getting positions on existing section corners, and other points, to help with better orienting digital tax mapping.  I tried the unit out by setting it up on a water shutoff and getting four hours of static observations.  The data was downloaded to a notebook computer, zipped and submitted online to NGS’s OPUS site.  Within a few minutes, an email was received giving specifics about the point’s location.  Pretty slick!

Thanks to Summit County for presenting a GIS session at the Winter Conference of County Commissioners and County Engineers December 3.  Eugene Esser, County Engineer; Dennis Tubbs, GIS Technical Applications Administrator; and Kirk DeGroff, Engineering Technician IV/GIS Operations demonstrated county mapping and GIS applications.  It helps knowing we are on the right track.  I also spoke with a Mahoning County Sanitary Sewer employee about their GPS’d infrastructure.  There may be more developments in this area for Belmont County in 2003!

November, 2002

We now have single-file countywide coverages for buildings, hydrography, centerlines and 10’ contours, thanks to Stanley Wong and John Antalovich, Jr. of Kucera International.  We appreciate their willingness to create these layers.  The contour layer is the largest, at over 800 MB in file size!  These files have been copied to the E-911 server and distributed to the Sanitary Sewer and Engineer Departments.

Some more features have been added to the house numbering program to facilitate consistent data entry.  Drop-downs for road name, road type, community and township make for more consistent data.  Emergency service number lookup was also added to populate police, fire and EMS fields.  Dave Blackstone, ODOT’s GIS Director, furnished us with their scheme for key fields for road centerlines.  Thanks, Dave!

ODNR, Division of Wildlife, held a public meeting at Belmont Technical College the evening of November 12.  They have requested our digital mapping files for managing the wildlife area under their jurisdiction in Belmont County.  They have been using the 1994 1 meter B&W DOQQs.  They are proposing a new nearly 100 acre lake just north of Hendrysburg and west of CR 108.

GIS Day, an annual worldwide event, was November 20 this year.  Governor Taft declared GIS Day in Ohio, and our County Commissioners did the same in Belmont County.  Our event, registered at, featured our new county computer mapping.  An exhibit was set up in the courthouse hallway, and was open to the public.  Since a key reason for GIS Day is to educate children and promote geography, we offered CDs of the digital orthophotography to area high schools.

On November 14, the county’s parcel data went online.  John Parkinson covered the development of this project in a previous newsletter.  The public access computers in the tax map room were converted to the new program this week.  Parcels can be queried by name, parcel number, property address, owner address, and section.  Results show name, Auditor parcel number, Engineer parcel number, deed volume and page, subdivision with Cabinet and Slide (if applicable), addresses and land and improvement values.  Thanks to Jason and Jim II Davenport of Draft-Co for agreeing to host the data on their server and for a speedy setup.  John is uploading the data from his office to the server, and will probably do so on a weekly basis.  The recorded plats are also available at the GIS web site (, County Departments), and these online files have been updated this month as well.

October, 2002

At the ESRI Workshop at this year’s 12th Annual Ohio GIS Conference in Columbus we learned about MapReader, a free distributable, that can be used to view GIS data.  It is a scaled down ArcMap8, and reads .pmf files, similar to Adobe Acrobat’s .pdf files.  Windows 2000 or better is required to run the software; it will not run on Windows 95, 98 or ME.  On the distributor’s side, a $2500.00 piece of software is required to create the .pmf files for distribution.  One word of warning to ArcMap users: install ArcReader from the ArcMap installation CDs, not from an ArcReader CD.

At the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio Fall Seminar, ESRI’s Survey Analyst was demonstrated.  This package will be included in the next release of ArcMap 8.3.  Other PLSO sessions included ethics, charm school for surveyors, writing deed descriptions and robotic surveying.  Stu Davis of OGRIP, Dave Conner of NGS and Dave Albrecht of ODOT also updated surveyors on geodetic control work scheduled for next year.

Permission was granted by the Bellaire Board of Education October 14 for installation of a geodetic control survey monument on school property.  The monument will be placed within a month, and observed next Spring using GPS technology.

We have asked Kucera International to create seamless countywide coverages for planimetric features, and possibly contours.  Data is currently in .e00 format by 5000 foot square tile, and there are 681 tiles that cover the county.  Building outlines that span one or more tiles are represented by separate polygons.  A countywide coverage will result in each building being represented by one polygon.  Similarly, centerlines, streams and lakes will be joined.  Delivery should occur within another week.  At that point we can begin assigning house numbering data.

Belmont County’s house numbering is administered by 911, and improved features have been and are being added to the database software by the GIS Department for maintaining this information.  E-911 is looking at hardware and software at the dispatcher level to show text data (Computer Aided Dispatch, or “CAD”) on one monitor and mapping data on a second monitor.  EmergiTech demonstrated the software October 17.  The software will be able to tie to the house numbering database, digital orthophotography, road centerlines and other mapping features.

The Ohio Utilities Protection Service has asked for mapping data to improve the accuracy of road centerlines in Belmont County.  They are planning to finish Noble County mapping in the next couple of weeks, and then concentrate on Belmont County.  The mapping they are currently using has been digitized from USGS quadrangle maps in 1997 and supplemented by digital ortho quarter quad (DOQQ) imagery from 1994.  OUPS has a statewide grid layout of 1/2 minute latitude/longitude cells.  When a call comes in, they determine which cell the activity is in, and notify the utilities with lines in that cell.  More accurate mapping is important to prevent inadvertent disruption in utility services.


September, 2002

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) and the Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP) have held four workshops this month in the four quarters of the state, with one more workshop planned for central Ohio October 8 at ODOT’s headquarters in Columbus.  The workshops detail the reobservation of 20 high accuracy reference network (HARN) points in Ohio planned for next Spring.  Local governments have an opportunity to observe control monuments during the same observation window to be used by NGS, and further strengthen local control networks.  A new datum will be derived, and will probably be referred to as the 2005 datum.  It will be based on the location of the center of the earth’s mass, which in just the last few years has been calculated to within the size of a walnut.  The 1983 datum is based on a mathematical model of the surface of the earth.  New coordinate values will be provided at no charge by NGS, but locals will have to pay for placement of monuments and three day, five and one-half hour per day observations according to NGS standards and time windows.  Belmont County plans to set two or three monuments soon.  Concrete monuments must be in the ground over a winter freeze-thaw cycle to be considered for the project.

On September 12 I visited Kucera International’s office in Willoughby, Ohio, east of Cleveland.  John Antalovich and sons John, Jr. and Scott gave me the tour of their impressive facility and their new hangar.  Kucera will also provide detailed mapping for about 58 acres in the Blaine Bridge area, as funds have been approved this month by the State for ground control and topographic mapping.  Hamilton & Associates is doing the ground control GPS work.  The Pease Township Trustees are acting as agents for the project.  Mapping will be used in development of a tourism plan for the historic area featuring Ohio’s Bicentennial Bridge.

On September 10 a GIS update was given to the 911 Board at their monthly meeting.  House numbering and building outlines were the focus, and a new database interface was shown for rural house numbering.  I also presented to the Martins Ferry Rotary September 16, where I had an opportunity to speak with Rotarian and former Belmont County Department of Development Director Don Myers.  Don expressed his support for the GIS program, and wished he had the information he saw that night when he was Director here.

Recorded plats are now available online!  I have often thought of the muffled groans I heard when I was still in the courthouse made by those who were asked to make a copy of a recorded plat for a customer.  Plats are stored in the Recorder’s Office one floor up, and making a copy necessitated a trip upstairs, bringing the one and only official copy downstairs, copying the plat, returning the original, and getting the copy to the customer.  Now the public and employees alike can access the plats in pdf format on the web.  I added pages to the GIS web site that link to files placed in additional storage area provided by FirstNet.  Files are organized by Cabinet and Slide, and the plat names are listed for reference.  Give it a try at  And let me know of any missing or incorrect links.

On September 18, MRT, Inc. demonstrated their pilot project mapping area to the Belmont County Commissioners during a regular meeting.  Mark Toalson showed census, soils, flood zone and fire hydrant data with parcel data, planimetrics and orthophotography for the one square mile area.  Derrel Owens demonstrated a public access front end for easy access to owner information and mapping.  Commissioner Chuck Probst asked about the availability of county water and sewer data for the system.  Currently that data is not in digital format.  This was the focus of a presentation to the GIS Committee by Woolpert LLC on August 15, outlining inventory methods for collection of data for water and sewer infrastructure.  Thanks to the Commissioners for the opportunity to present a GIS program!

On September 20 the Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District held their 5th Annual Legislators’ Tour.  The GIS office was packed with people who saw sample mapping in the Barnesville area, and a demonstration by Jeff Bittenger, NRCS Lead District Conservationist, on farm plan mapping.  They use ArcView for showing field tile locations, fencing projects, and buffer zones around creeks.  Beverly Riddle, District Program Administrator, mentioned the need for updated tax maps in digital format to facilitate farm plans, especially with the high number of property transfers in coal company areas.  The interest in the county’s GIS was overwhelming, and we thank them for making us a part of their tour.

A web-based database program has been written for public access to parcel data.  We are looking at installing the software on public access computers in the Engineer’s Office in the near future, replacing the DOS-based software currently in use.

August, 2002

A GIS update was given to the Belmont County Township Association August 1, showing digital orthophotography and announcing availability of CDs.  A tentative date is in the works for a demonstration at an upcoming Commissioners meeting.

Kucera International has now delivered all building outline, hydrography and transportation centerline planimetrics.  They tell us that the balance of all contour data will be delivered during the course of this month.

Work has begun on the county house numbering database so it can be attached to planimetric data.  Woolpert LLP gave a presentation August 15 on water and sewer infrastructure inventory and mapping.  Aerial photo enlargements from 1950 have been compressed to Adobe Acrobats’s pdf format, and are available on one CD.  Also, all the recorded plats have been compressed from tif to pdf format, and fit on one CD as well.  And finally, the Ohio GIS Conference is coming up next month, September 25-27, in Columbus.

Note: It was two years ago, August 9, 2000, when the GIS Committee appeared before the Commissioners and recommended the establishment of the GIS Department.


July 30, 2002

The digital orthophoto CDs are being duplicated!  Cost is $35.00 for countywide coverage, or $5.00 per CD, for pickup at the Engineer's Office; shipping and handling will be added if you want them mailed to you.  There are six CDS which cover the county at one foot pixel resolution.  Each image covers a 5000 foot by 5000 foot area.  A seventh CD covers the non-rural areas - Barnesville, Bellaire (including St. Joe and Neffs), Belmont, Bethesda, Bridgeport, Brookside (including Wolfhurst, Lansing and Blaine), Flushing, Martins Ferry, Powhatan Point, Shadyside, St. Clairsville and Yorkville - at one-half foot pixel resolution, 2500 foot by 2500 foot.  Images are in color and are in MrSID format at 20:1 compression, NAD 83(95) datum.  ArcExplorer is included on each CD, which you can install on your computer to view the images.

July, 2002

All of the digital orthophotos have been received in tif format.  We have 86 CDs at 1"=200', and 20 CDs at 1"=100' for a total of 106 CDs.  Kucera is now compressing the images using MrSID by LizardTech.  There will be a 20x compressed file for each township, and a 40x compressed countywide image.  About 90% coverage has been delivered for road centerlines, building outlines and hydrography.  The Engineer's Office has been creating files by township for these layers in AutoCAD Map.

I attended an OGRIP outreach meeting in Stark County June 24.  Brent Winslow, PS, of the Stark County Auditor's Office GIS, presented a very interesting explanation of section corner and quarter section corner recovery and restoration.  Staff research survey maps, field books and deeds for section corner references.  Then field reconnaissance is done.  Corners in poor condition are restored with a new monument, and then corners are GPS'd.  The 17 townships are in the rectangular survey system, and it is anticipated the 2000+ section corner and quarter corners will be  monumented by 2010.

A GIS demo was given at the Flushing Ruritan July 1.  A large crowd saw images of downtown Flushing and the pilot tax map area in Goshen Township.  Thanks to Ty Justice for the invitation to speak.

Fire hydrant locations were gathered for the pilot tax map project in the Bethesda area.  MRT will give a presentation of the final product to the GIS Committee at its next meeting July 25 at the GIS Office.  Included will be parcel mapping and database linkage, sample parcel card and survey maps, orthophotography, road video, bridge info, railroad and highway plans, watershed area, and coal seams.


June, 2002

     As of June 10 we have received 581 images of digital orthophotography for the county – 76 at 1”=100’ and 505 at 1”=200’.  This makes a 70% delivery of about 828 images for the entire county.  Contours for 113 tiles of 681 tiles have been received as well.  Of the road centerlines and hydrography, 220 tiles have been delivered, and 201 tiles of building outlines are here in .e00 format.

      The pilot tax map conversion project is underway with MRT, Inc.  Tax maps are being digitized.  Video of Main Street has been captured.  Digital orthos of the edges of the project area and surrounding area are now here.  Anticipated completion is mid-summer.

      Chuck Fillipovich and I attended a free seminar May 13 sponsored by ESRI and Woolpert.  Covered were data capture and mapping for storm and water utilities.  On May 20 the GIS Office was a stop on the tour of the Belmont County hosted Southeast Ohio Association of County Commissioners and Engineers.

      The second annual Tax Map Workshop was held in Columbus May 21-22.  Several counties had sample tax maps on display.  Over 200 attendees heard about “From Paper to Vapor” conversion during a panel presentation, which included Belmont County businessman Jim Davenport of Draft-Co.

      May 23rd’s meeting of PLSO was a joint Ohio Valley-Muskingum Chapter meeting in Cambridge.  Dave Conner of NGS and Dave Albrecht of ODOT spoke on the new proposed statewide state plane coordinate system, which will be in addition to the two zones currently in use.  ODOT has 10 Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) in Ohio, and plans to add seven more this year.  The reobservation of about 20 HARN points, scheduled for next year, was explained.  Several handouts were distributed to the 20+ attendees.


May, 2002

    We have now received 188 images of digital orthophotography for the county.  This makes a 23% delivery of about 815 images for the entire county.  Contours for some areas have been received as well.

    A pilot tax map conversion project has been initiated.  About 1200 parcels will be mapped and data-linked in the Bethesda municipal area.  Paper tax maps and other data are being scanned and forwarded to Map Research Technologies, Inc.  The mapping area includes a state road, county road, township road, municipal streets, subdivisions, and an abandoned railroad.  Anticipated completion is mid-summer.

    The second annual Tax Map Workshop will be held in Columbus May 21-22.  Each county in the state has been asked to provide a tax map for display at the workshop.  This should make a very interesting exhibit.  To all the County Engineers – make sure a tax map from your county is sent to OGRIP, 77 S. High St., 19th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43216 by May 10.

    I have begun attending CEAO’s Surveying, Mapping and Land Records Committee.  Chair is Coshocton County Engineer Fred Wachtel.  The April 11 meeting included informative discussion about geodetic control.  The Ohio Valley and Muskingum Chapters of PLSO may arrange a joint meeting so this topic can be explained by Dave Conner of NGS and Dave Albrecht of ODOT, who are willing to travel to PLSO meetings for this purpose.

    I gave a short GIS presentation at the Engineer’s Annual Township Trustee meeting April 3.  I also spoke at Career Day at St. John Central High School April 12.  On May 3 I will give a presentation at the annual employee’s meeting, and also May 7 at the St. Clairsville Rotary lunch meeting.  See you “on the road.”

April, 2002

    We have begun to receive digital orthophotography on a regular basis in the last month from Kucera International, Inc.  Images have been received for the northwest part of the county, in addition to images for the pilot project of about four square miles in the Bethesda/Goshen Township area.  The color images are in tiles and take about 73 Mb of disk space each.  We will evaluate compression ratios using MrSID software from Lizardtech, and have received samples from Kucera in 10x, 20x and 30x ratios.  The tiles are square, 5000 feet on the side, with one foot pixels.  In the more populated areas, tiles are 2500 feet on the side and have a resolution of ˝ foot pixel.  The tile grid is based on values from the State Plane Coordinate system for Ohio, South Zone, 1983 with 1995 adjustment.

     Images for about 15% of the county have been delivered to date.  Hopefully all images will have been received by June or July.  After that, CDs will be duplicated and available for distribution.  If we use 20x compression, imagery for the whole county should fit on about six CDs.

     Other mapping in the works includes road centerlines, building outlines and stream and lake locations.  Once these features and the imagery are complete, ten foot contours will be provided for the entire county.  These items have been received and reviewed for the pilot area.

     My eXPerience with Windows XP Professional (“XP” stands for “experience”) has been a real “experience.”  I am in the process of replacing it with Windows 2000 Professional on a computer I bought in December.  XP may be OK for the home, but I have found it frustrating to work with in a networked environment.  I know of surveyors who have had a similar experience.  The Office XP products, however, are very nice to work with.

March, 2002

Status of Countywide Mapping:

    Kucera International, Inc. estimates that it will be the end of May, 2002 before the countywide mapping project is finished.

February, 2002

    The GIS Office has moved to its new location.  On February 1 almost all equipment and furniture had been moved and set up.  The new phone number is 740-526-9306.  The office is located in the new garage on US 40 at Lloydsville, 1.5 miles west of the intersection of SR 331 and US 40.

January, 2002

    Global Positional System (GPS) training was conducted January 23 at the courthouse.  Mike Wahl, John Parkinson, Tom Fulton Judy Jenewein and myself watched as Bob Busch of CompassCom instructed us in setting up a job with the accompanying Pathfinder software.  We then went outside and mapped some points, lines and areas.  Upon returning to the office, we downloaded the job and performed postprocessing using data from the Internet.  An ArcView shape file was created and viewed over existing digital ortho photography.

     The Ohio Valley Chapter of the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio met January 24 in the tax map office.  They plan to establish a latitude/longitude monument on the St. Clairsville bike path this spring.  Dennis Bigler, Service Director for the city, agreed this would be a good public service activity.  The Chapter covers six counties, and intends to set a monument in each in the future.

     We received the aerotriangulation report from Kucera International.  They are still processing the digital mapping data and have not sent any deliverables yet.

     I made a trip with Dick Quinlin and company January 10 to the state surplus warehouse in Columbus, where I found a couple of cabinets for the new GIS office.  I enjoyed riding with computer-guru Sgt. Dave Lucas of the Sheriff’s Office, and talking about GIS applications for their department.

     Finally, thanks to Chuck Malolepszy of Austen Surveying for the compliment regarding the section maps on our web site:

            Thanks for the digitized maps -- they will be a valuable tool for us.

     A little encouragement once in a while goes a long way.


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