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December 2005

Two college students are working on georeferencing scanned 1939 photo enlargements, 1973 scanned photo enlargements, and 2005 scanned tax maps.  One student has finished the aerials in tif format; both are working on the scanned tax maps.  Another college student in the Engineer's Office is working on georeferencing scanned 1989 photo enlargements.

Commissioners approved a Public Announcement for a photo mission in 2006 to update digital orthophotography, building outlines and road centerlines.  Statement of Qualifications were due by January 13, 2006.

November 2005

County Commissioners issued a National GIS Day Resolution at their November 9 meeting.  The Times Leader newspaper covered the meeting and published an article in their November 11 edition.  On GIS Day, November 16, several schools sent representatives to the GIS Office for a morning demonstration in using addressing, road centerline and school district data.  Maps were distributed to these officials showing school district boundaries.   A “Where in the County?” contest was posted on the GIS web site for county students and residents who wish to test their knowledge of Belmont County.  All questions could be answered with information on the web site. 

A map has been made for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) which shows all the school districts in Ohio and West Virginia in the conference.  Boundaries were downloaded from, along with locations of high schools.  Belomar helped supply municipal boundaries on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River.  Road and creek centerlines were taken from a data CD included with ArcMap 9.1, and county boundaries are from ODOT’s GIS CD.  The Conference covers twelve counties in Ohio, in whole or in part, and six in West Virginia, and totals over 2.8 million acres, or nearly 4400 square miles.

October 2005

The Belmont County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted their annual Legislators Tour October 21. One stop on their rounds was the GIS Office. Urban Technician Rick Oberdick gave a presentation explaining stormwater facts and figures. He showed the areas of the county impacted by the Clean Water Act, and reviewed best management practices. State Representatives John Domenick and Allan Sayre; Lisa Duvall, representative for Congressman Ted Strickland; and County Commissioner Gordie Longshaw, plus several S&W Supervisors, were in attendance.

On October 25 a presentation was given to the St. Clairsville Rotary Club. The noon group was shown new developments since the last presentation to them in May, 2002.  The Letter of Final Determination was received from FEMA. Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will become effective April 5, 2006.  Pictures of the recycling barns have been added to the Aerial Mapping page.  Click on a barn to see if its status is tentative or existing, and a hyperlink appears for a picture of existing barns.  For easier selection, turn off the Communities layer first.

September 2005

Belmont County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) was presented the Best Practices Award for the State of Ohio at the Annual Ohio GIS Conference in Columbus September 23.  Stu Davis, Administrator of Enterprise Shared Services of Ohio’s Office of Information Technology, and Judy Gilligan, Administrative Assistant of the Ohio Geographically Referenced information Program (OGRIP), shared in the presentation.  Accepting the award were Don Pickenpaugh, Belmont County GIS Director; Mark Thomas, President of the Belmont County Commissioners; and Fred Bennett, Belmont County Engineer.  Belmont County was recognized for its collaborative approach in implementing GIS, emphasizing inclusive participation from many county agencies.

Belmont County was awarded Honorable Mention for the Best Practices Award at last year’s Ohio GIS Conference, and participated in the Map Gallery both years.  This year’s award is on display in the County Engineer’s Office.

August 2005

Addressing ranges for all road segments on the county highway system have been determined.  This includes “left from”, “left to”, “right from” and “right to” values for over 1940 segments ranging in length from 0.02 feet to 12722.47 feet, and totaling 1,645,948 feet.  An updated shapefile has been posted on the Planimetric page for download.  The updates will also be loaded into 911’s dispatch system for improved geocoding of addresses.

Municipal street mapping has been uploaded to the MapGuide site on the Aerial Mapping page of the GIS web site.  This replaces ODOT’s city and village street mapping previously on the site.  The accuracy of location is much improved, as well as better street name attribution.  More changes will be made to this data as address ranges are determined for all streets.

August 5 marked the last day for the two summer employees.  They entered recorded plat street names, completed township and municipal street segment checking, and began determining address ranges for township roads.  They did a tremendous amount of work this year, and we thank them for their work.  Thanks also to the staff of the Belmont County Commissioners for the administrative and payroll work, and the Belmont County Soil and Water Conservation District for funding the ten week project.

July 2005

Two summer employees are working on attribution of road centerlines.  They have entered the recorded plat names for all streets and roads, along with Cabinet, Slide and Subdivision name.  Township roads have been checked for missing segments and endpoint matching.  They are working in municipalities now.  The next step will be figuring addressing ranges for each segment in the municipal and township jurisdictions.  A shapefile of work to date is uploaded to the Planimetrics page of the GIS web site periodically.

The Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District is providing funding for these employees as part of their continuing contribution to the county’s GIS.

June 2005

The MapGuide site under the Aerial Mapping page has been enhanced by Draft-Co with a new redlining feature.  The user can use redlining to add points, lines, polygons and text to the map displayed on the page.  This could be useful for determining the length of a proposed fence line or water line, or the approximate area of a field.  Text could be added to customize a map before printing.


To draw a line, click on the line icon, then change its color, style, thickness and name as desired using the drop-downs at the lower left of the page.  I found it best to change the default color of white to something else when the aerial photo is not displayed, since the default background of the map is also white, and the line was not visible.  Click on the map to start the line, draw the line, then double-click to end the line.  Pick the select tool from the toolbar, then click on the line and its length in feet will be displayed.

Similarly, to draw a polygon, click on the polygon icon and set its name, color, style, background mode and hatching.  Click on the map to start the polygon, click at vertices, then double click at the last vertex to close the polygon.  Pick the select tool from the toolbar and click on the polygon to display its area in square feet.

May 2005

Officials from FEMA, ODNR and PBS&J hosted a meeting April 27 at the Department of Jobs and Family Services for local officials and the public concerning flood plain mapping.  Plots of new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM’s) were presented.  Mapping is based on the 1994 Digital Ortho Quarter Quads (DOQQ’s) and will now include Belmont County’s 2001 aerial photos as part of the map.  This will make it much easier for the user to find a particular area of interest.

Three big changes were outlined by Nancy Olson of FEMA’s Region V Chicago Office.  One, the maps will now be in a countywide format as opposed to separate panels.  Two, the panel index has changed.  Three, Ohio River floodway data has been added from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The meeting was to introduce the new maps for review by local officials.  There will be two more public meetings, which will be advertised in the newspaper.  After that, a 90 day appeal period begins to appeal data on the maps, including municipal annexations and new roads.  Once the appeals period has passed and edits have been made to the maps, a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) will be issued.  Six months from the date of the LFD the new maps will become effective.  This should be about a year from now.

By the time the new maps are effective, communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program will have to have revised their regulations to refer to these new maps.  If regulations are not adopted in time, the community is excluded from the National Flood Insurance Program – no exceptions.

Lending institutions will be re-evaluating loans to see if a flood plain determination has been done.  Some banks have been lax in this area.  Ms. Olson said to expect homeowners to be calling as a result.  A flood plain determination is required for any loan involving federal dollars, which includes loans from banks covered by FDIC.

A digital version of the FIRM, known as the DFIRM, will have to be requested from the map service center.  Local GIS data can be added with GIS software to enhance the map.  The Firmette, a FIRM now available from for a specific area, will also have to be revised by FEMA.

It is anticipated the new flood mapping will be added to the Belmont County GIS web site, Aerial Mapping section, to help the public in seeing where the flood zones are.

April 2005

The Belmont County Soil and Water Urban Technician has completed adjustment of the Urban Area boundary to match the county's base mapping.  Maps have been plotted for the Stormwater Management Committee.  The Committee continues to work on erosion and sedimentation plan regulations.

County employees from Litter and Recycling and the Board of Elections have received computer and GIS training.  Three half-day sessions covered basic computer knowledge and file management, Internet and e-mail attachments, and GIS applications using ArcExplorer and the web.  Two employees from each agency attended, and already the knowledge is being put to use to solve problems they encounter.

GIS presentations were given at the Engineer's Annual Township Trustee Meeting April 21 and Annual Employees Meeting April 29.  CDs and plots by township were distributed to the townships once again this year.  The focus this year was on property determination in relation to junk vehicles.  At the employees meeting maps were shown for projects of the past year and helicopter video was shown of flooded areas in the aftermath of September 17 flooding.

March 2005

A shapefile has been created for stop signs on the county highway system, and a large size map plotted for the sign department.  Work has begun on another shapefile, adding other signs on county highways.  ArcPublisher has been purchased which will enable creation and distribution of mapping to other county users.  ArcReader, a free program, can then be used by others to view the maps so created.  Users must have Windows 2000 or newer operating systems.  Windows 98 machines cannot run ArcReader.

A map has been plotted for the Cumberland Trail Genealogical Society which shows all the cemeteries in Belmont County.  Data supplied by Frank Hodorowski and Jean Craig included a latitude and longitude of each cemetery.  A copy of the map was presented to the St. Clairsville Library during the Society’s March 14 meeting.  The map will be framed and displayed there for the public.  The Society is also selling a book for $21.50 with details on all cemeteries they have found.

Guest speaker at the February 16 Ohio Mideast Governments Association (OMEGA) meeting was Scott Jackson, P.E., of the USGS office in Columbus.  Mr. Jackson spoke on hydrology in Ohio, and urged counties who have not yet created GIS to do so, saying it is a matter of “when,” not “if,” a GIS is developed.  At OMEGA’s March 16 meeting John Hoopingarner of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) spoke on the need for rehabilitation of dams in the Muskingum watershed and a coming assessment on the approximately 1.1 million parcels in that area.  GIS Directors from Holmes and Belmont Counties were in attendance at both meetings.  Don Myers, OMEGA Director, commented on the devastating effects of rains and flooding in the 10-county OMEGA area, and the dim outlook for government funding in the near future. 

On February 24 and 25 Chuck Fillipovich and I attended a seminar on the Global Positioning System (GPS).  The seminar was conducted by Dan O’Reilly of Anderson Buckeye Company of Canton.  The need for mission planning was emphasized.  GPS satellites orbit the earth about twice a day.  Software that accompanies GPS units must be used to predict the best times for GPS observations to be made.  There are times during each day when satisfactory readings cannot be obtained.  Also, the effect of charged particles in the ionosphere on transmissions from satellites to receivers must be corrected by post-processing or by real-time processing against a known point in the field if accuracies better than 10 meters are desired.  It can be assumed that the ionosphere’s effect is the same within about a 12 mile radius.  Atomic clocks are used in the GPS constellation.  If a signal were off 1/100 of a second, the error in distance would be 1,860 miles!

Software upgrades recently obtained include Lizardtech’s GeoExpress 5.0 and service pack 3 for ArcGIS9.  A 25-user WinZip license has been received.  Notice has been sent by Autodesk that AutoCAD 2006 will be shipping soon.  Another ArcMap9 has been installed on a notebook computer at E-911 for on-the-road house number editing.  Addressing ranges for county road segments continue to be calculated and entered.

February 2005

How do you find out the latitude and longitude of an addressed structure?  You can do so using the MapGuide site found under the Aerial Mapping page of the GIS web site.

To display latitude and longitude data, right-click in the map area.  Then select Help, Preferences.  Click the checkbox for Display Mouse Position.  You can select either Latitude and Longitude or Mapping Coordinate System.

Now as you move your mouse pointer over the map, the latitude and longitude display to the lower left of the map.  As you zoom in on the map, you can get a more refined location.  If you know a specific address for which you want lat and lon, enter the house number or road name in the address search text box, click the Find button, and select the one you want from the list at the lower right of the screen. Enter just enough to narrow your search from a list of possible matches.  For example, do not enter the word “Road” or put a space in “Mc C” because we use “RD” and MCC” in the road names.  Do not include a city or zip in the address search.

The latitude and longitude are displayed in decimal degrees.  Multiplying the decimal portion by 60 yields minutes and decimal minutes, the units usually displayed on recreational grade GPS receivers.  If you want seconds instead of decimal minutes, multiply the decimal portion of the minutes by 60.  As a rule of thumb, each second of latitude equals about 78 feet and each second of longitude equals about 100 feet for our neck of the woods.  That amounts to about a mile per minute. 

Remember, these are mapping grade accuracies, not survey grade accuracies on the web site.  To get more accurate results, high quality GPS survey equipment and procedures need to be used in the field.

January 2005

Building polygons have been added by 911 for many of the buildings that did not exist at the time of aerial photography taken in April, 2001.  ArcMap 9 was used on a notebook computer on loan from John Parkinson of the Engineer’s Office.  Thanks, John.  Updated addressing mapping has been uploaded to the Aerial Mapping page of the GIS web site.

The process of adding house number ranges to road centerlines continues.  To download a shapefile of work completed so far, see the Planimetrics page of the GIS web site.  This more accurate file will eventually replace the centerline file currently being used on the Aerial Mapping page.  Also, more recorded plats have been uploaded for public use to the site, and a few tax map links corrected.

Software subscription and maintenance have been renewed for another year.  Thanks to the County Commissioners and to the County Engineer for committing to keeping the GIS Department going in 2005, despite cutbacks necessitated by the recent disasters.

Maps have been plotted by township for use in the stream cleaning project being undertaken by the EOC.  More maps have also been requested from the Board of Elections in assisting them in their duties.  The county squad officers will hold their next meeting at the GIS office on February 16, when mapping will be demonstrated to them. The Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio Annual Conference was February 10-12 in Dayton and included sessions on “GPS Technology – A Blessing or a Curse” and “GIS 101: GIS Basics and How They Relate To Surveying” and “Survey, Photogrammetry and GIS – The Geo-Spatial Sciences.” 


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Last modified: 04/30/17