There was a meeting held this past Thursday afternoon at Village Hall. The news media was told it was suppose to be a Property Committee meeting. When they started the 2 PM meeting it was called “a work session to catch up all of Council on the drilling here Marcellus shale”. The Mayor opened the meeting and turned it over to Councilman Tony Cataldo.
We questioned earlier who called the meeting. Property Committee Chairwoman Sue Haugh was out of town on vacation this week. After checking with one of her Committee members we were told that they didn't know who called it. We've been told that to call a committee meeting in the absence of the Chairwoman, Robert's Rules require that any meeting scheduled has to be by mutual agreement of all the members on that committee. Wellsville Village Council committees mostly have three members maximum. With the Chairwoman being out of town and one other Committee member saying they didn't know who called the meeting, we didn't see any sense checking with the third member. Rather than wasting our time we would just wait for the meeting before making any other inquiries. In addition to Haugh the Property Committee has Rosie Goss and Randy Allmon on it.
After attending the meeting we decided there wasn't anything accomplished worth writing a report on. Other than some obvious political posturing the only decision made was to see if a second meeting could be set up with A.L.O.V. Director Bob Rea. If some of those present hadn't blown off previous meetings concerning drilling there wouldn't have been any need to conduct a “work session”.
Chairwoman Haugh has had two previous meetings. The first was with a broker called Everflow Eastern. Their representative had a very informative presentation on drilling for oil & natural gas. He gave some history and a thorough explanation of the safety precautions now being use by the drillers. He informed everyone that the drilling companies are very interested in drilling into the Utica shale in the Wellsville area. It's been determined that drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus wouldn't be cost effective on Village owned propety. The band of that shale is too narrow in this area to make it worthwhile.
The second meeting, held on July 12, was with Mr. Rea of the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley (ALOV), a non-profit corporation. He distributed copies of sample contracts they use when landowners lease their property for drilling. He spent over an hour going over the high lights of that 24 page contract sample. Mr. Rea is a landowner himself and has devoted much of his life to seeing that he and “his neighbors” get the best deal. He was quite impressive when he explained how they researched everything to get all the basis covered. ALOV's contract is a very comprehensive, lengthy document compared to the three or four page contracts other brokers use.
When we read the news article reporting on last Thursday's meeting we couldn't believe the scare slant given to the drilling prospects. One Councilman expressed his concerns about the effects on water contamination. If he would have paid attention at the previous meetings he would have learned of the safety precautions now being used to guarantee against that. His research was obviously telling only part of the story. The lawsuits he was referring to was mostly from the earlier days in Pennsylvania before well testing is routinely done. Incidentally, we have been informed there have been a lot of bad wells found with the pre-drilling testing being done now.
Mention was made to losing “several thousand dollars worth of timber” if a contract was signed. Thankfully the Village Law Advisor was present to explain that timber could be covered if a contract was drawn up for Wellsville. Several years ago the Village got out of fiscal emergency selling timber harvested at the old reservoir. Again, the contract the Council members were looking at was only a sample. It was not one actually drawn up for Wellsville.
The figures mentioned in that news article in that sample contract are not set in stone. No negotiation has been done on the Village's behalf as of yet. The per acre lease amount and royalties could be better than what was quoted.
Although no one at last Thursday's meeting had any idea how many acres are involved in the two Village owned properties being considered for leasing, the proceeds could be a very nice rainy day fund. There are more than just a few acres involved in the old city dump and reservoir. Those are the two areas being considered. In the news, in the last week or so, it was announced that the County commissioners and the Village of Leetonia are ready to sign lease contracts. East Liverpool is working out the final details in preparation to signing one. If the politicians in Wellsville don't scare everyone away we might have one someday. It's a time consuming thing but we believe it will be “what is best for the people of Wellsville”.