It’s spring time again and the Allen County Engineer, Brion Rhodes and his staff have completed the annual inspection of all 377 bridges under the County’s responsibility. While this is no small feat and takes an entire year to complete, 22 of these bridges are designated as “fracture critical” and require an additional biennial inspection, where each bridge is thoroughly examined. Most notable of these 22 bridges is the Metcalf Street Bridge over the Norfolk and Southern rail yard near the Husky Lima Refinery. It was built in 1923, but continues to be Allen County’s longest structure, containing five (5) separate spans and the main truss spanning of 308 feet. Regardless of the size, rest assured, the Allen County Engineer is dedicated to maintaining safe bridges.
The Allen County Agricultural Society named the Allen County Engineer’s Office as the Outstanding Fair Supporter of the Year for 2016. Allen County Engineer, Brion Rhodes and his staff have been instrumental in several projects at the fairgrounds. Campground renovations, drainage/ditch repairs, utility repairs, parking/driveway upkeep, racetrack maintenance and surveying, have all been major contributions to the success of the Allen County Fair. The Allen County Engineer’s Office has also provided shared equipment and services throughout the year.
Earlier this year, the Allen County Engineer’s Office was awarded $586,100 ($310,300 grant and $275,800 loan at 0% for 20 years) from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) to replace the Zurmehly Road Bridge over the Little Ottawa River in Shawnee Township. The existing bridge (located just east of Shawnee High School) was a 62’ long, 20’ wide steel truss built in 1950 and was structurally deficient. The new bridge is a pre-stessed concrete box beam bridge 78’ long, 32’ wide, which is much safer for the traveling public. The OPWC released funding on July 1 and we opened bids that same day. Three companies bid on the project and the lowest bid was R.G. Zachrich Construction Inc. from Defiance, Ohio with a total bid price of $511,305.59. Construction started on August 15 and the bridge was re-opened on October 27th, over two weeks ahead of schedule. Special thanks goes to the public and especially Shawnee Schools for their understanding, patience and cooperation during the construction.
On Thursday, August 6th, the Allen County Republican Central Committee unanimously appointed Brion E. Rhodes as the next Allen County Engineer. Brion had been appointed as the Interim County Engineer by the Board of Allen County Commissioners on July 30th to fill the vacancy created when former county engineer Tim Piper retired on July 31st. Brion has been Chief Deputy Engineer for Allen County since 2009. To read more, click HERE for the Lima News article.
Justus F. “Jack” Wetherill passed away on June 28th at the Lima Convalescent Home in Lima, Ohio. His wife Auda passed away in 2011. His son Andy Wetherill and granddaughters Amy and Julie survive him. Jack was an employee with the Allen County Engineer’s Office from 1962 until 1986. Jack was responsible for creating and updating the official Allen County Road Map. He prepared the first county road map in 1964. His hand-drawn annual road maps were precise and he took pride in correcting any mistakes, before the maps went to the printer. In the 1960’s Jack was also responsible for setting up a house numbering system for all roads in Allen County. This was a major undertaking since a countywide system had not been used in the county with rural routes being used for mailing addresses in the country and house numbers in the municipalities. His numbering system incorporated setting up blocks for north-south and east-west roads while blending into house numbering already in use in the cities and villages. His house numbering system is still in use today. He was a “Jack-of-all-trades” with a myriad of job functions assigned to him. For those of us who worked with Jack, he will be remembered as a gentle man who had a quick wit and was good with puns. He was once asked “Jack, do you have any thumbtacks?” to which he replied, “No but I have some fingernails.” His written collections of misquotes by county employees was enjoyed by all. Jack’s knowledge of how the roads were established in Allen County was second to none. He had painstakingly gone through all of the road records and commissioner’s journals in Allen County and logged information about the establishment of each road in the county. His road record research is still being used by county employees today. Jack and wife Auda served at the Allen County Museum as docents after his retirement. He will be missed by those of us who had the fortune of working with him.
Timothy J. Piper, P.E., P.S., announced today that he would be retiring from the office of Allen County Engineer on July 31st of this year. Piper graduated from Ohio Northern Engineering in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He was hired as a design engineer at the Allen County Engineer’s office on July 14, 1975. In 1980, Piper obtained his Ohio’s Professional Engineers (P.E.) license and in 1985 he obtained his Ohio’s Professional Surveyors License (P.S.). During his first ten years of employment Piper designed over 50 bridges for Allen County. In 1980 he was put in charge of the annual county, township and village road programs, overseeing the paving and maintenance of hundreds of miles of roadways for the next 25 years. Piper was appointed as Chief Deputy Engineer in 1999 and was appointed as Allen County Engineer in September of 2005. He was elected to office in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2012.