City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of July 21, 2021

Posted on: July 21, 2021

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., at the Donald Myers Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order by Council President Kristine Davis with the Pledge of Allegiance recited by those present in chamber, followed by a prayer by the Clerk. Answering Roll Call were Bob Hunker, First Ward Council Member, Bruce Shrodes, Second Ward Council Member; Suzanne Armstrong, Third Ward Council Member; Rick Rodgers, Fourth Ward Council Member; Tom Burns, Jim Schramm and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members.

Minutes: Minutes of the July 7, 2021 Council Meeting were approved as written.

Correspondence: There was no correspondence.

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor: Mayor Davies said potholes have been patched in the Fourth Ward and patching will begin tomorrow in the Third Ward. Crews have been trying to keep up with the endless job of grass cutting. The house on Ellet and 5th Street has been demolished by the Mayor. The total cost of the project is not known since the landfill bill has not been received but the Mayor estimates the cost to be around $3,500-$4,000. The Center Street house continues to crumble down. The Mayor will demolish this house in the near future.

There was a water break on Victory Road near County Road 4. The lines are galvanized and needed replaced.

The Mayor has set up a meeting with the Management of Austin Masters, the City Administration, Sewer Department, and Water Department Superintendent to discuss the operations at the Austin Masters Plant. The city water is tested frequently by the EPA and it is well within the acceptable ranges. County Commissioner J. P. Dutton has also been contacted concerning the practices of Austin Masters.

The city is in the middle of a computer conversion and that is why Council does not have a cash flow report. Until that is finished, no reports can be drawn from the system.

Mr. Burns told the Mayor he was concerned about slag getting into the catch basins by his house and clogging the sewer. Mr. Sutak said he would get a crew to fix this problem.

The Mayor said a utility company tore up the road between 8th and 9th Street. After contacting the company several times about fixing it and getting no response, city workers repaired it. The Mayor now wants any utility company that is going to tear up a street to post a $50,000 road bond. If the street isn’t fixed by the company, the city can repair the road and take the cost of the labor and materials out of the bond.

Mr. Burns asked the Mayor to have the Water Superintendent check the Water Shut-off Valve at the intersection of Grant and Broadway.

Service Director: Mr. Sutak reported the grass in both cemeteries, the city park and the ballfields has been cut. He also spoke with a company regarding a road bond to guarantee satisfaction of jobs performed by companies that do street work in the city.

Mr. Rodgers asked Mr. Sutak to 1) look at another dead tree at the Walnut Grove Cemetery and 2) patch a large pothole in the alley of the 1300 block of 7th and 8th Streets. Mr. Sutak informed Mr. Rodgers that the sewer problem at the bottom of Kuckuck Lane has been fixed.

Safety Director: No report.

Auditor: No report.

Law Director: Mr. Stecker did not have a report but asked Council to approve a settlement agreement between the City and Donald Mew during Miscellaneous Business.

Police Department: No report.

Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

Park District: No report.

Water Department: No report.

Reports of Committees of Council:

Finance and Audit: No report.

Street: Mr. Rodgers called Police Chief McFarland concerning a parking issue causing problems for school buses getting into J.C. Manor. The Chief said two “no-parking” signs are needed to fix the problem. Mr. Sutak will contact the Chief to discuss this issue.

Ordinance: Mr. Shrodes said he will schedule a committee meeting after he gathers more information from Department Heads for the Organizational Chart.

Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.

Code Administration: No report.

Safety: No report.

Service: A Service Committee Meeting was held on Monday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. The Austin Masters issue was not discussed. It was noted that city residents are starting to comply with the trash ordinance. Purchasing new water meters was discussed. The Mayor said 325 analog meters have been ordered. Negotiations have begun for the price of the rest of the meters needed which would include a tower that would read meters and send this information directly to the Utility Office. Use of this tower would eliminate 85% of the current “drive-by” readings. Mayor Davies said that an infrastructure grant is being sought for this project. It is hoped that the Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority will take into consideration that the city is moving forward and making progress with meter replacements and not charge customers extra for estimated readings. As soon as the Water Department gets caught up with employee vacations, 2-3 workers will be dispatched to replace meters.

Cemetery: Mr. Burns expressed appreciation for all the workers who maintain and cut the grass in the cemetery.

Public Relations: Mr. Rodgers attended the July 13th meeting of the Chamber of Commerce. A dinner is being planned for October 7 at the Recreation Center. Rich Donnelly will be the guest speaker. The Chamber will also have a booth at the Betty Zane Days.

Real Estate/Utility: No report.

Income Tax: No report.

Citizens To Be Heard: President Davis reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.

Rev. Michael Seibert, 1117 Indiana Street, thanked the Mayor for his earlier report on Austin Masters. Rev. Seibert said he knows the water is tested regularly and Martins Ferry’s water is meeting all of the standard that are set. He would like to know if the City’s water plant is tested for the same chemicals that the EPA found in Bridgeport’s water and caused the closing of their plant. He would like to know what the standards are and how are they being tested. He urged Council to explore this issue further.

Beverly Reed, 98-5th. Street, Bridgeport, Ohio, also expressed concern for testing at the Water Plant. Some chemicals are only tested every 9 years and if the results are under a certain threshold, then testing doesn’t have to be done for another 9 years. The Austin Masters Plant has been operating for 4-5 years and Ms. Reed named 2 specific chemicals and wondered when the last time testing was done for these chemicals and if the results could be made public. She stated she sent a list of questions to the Administration and asked that they be answered in a reasonable amount of time. Also, she would like to know the emergency response plan if Austin Masters would catch on fire.

Ron Reed, 701 North Lincoln Street, Bridgeport, Ohio, stated that Bridgeport has had a long history of water problems. He was concerned that although Martins Ferry has a good quality water report now, it may not have a good report in 5 years. Mr. Hunker informed Mr. Reed that the City Administration is working on establishing a “trunk water line” that would insure if one town had water problems, they could easily draw water from a neighboring town.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, announced that a Town Hall Meeting will be held at the Recreation Center on Tuesday, August 10 at 6:00 p.m. with the County Commissioners. When asked about the Betty Zane Festival, Mayor Davies said he felt it would be successful because people want to be social after going through the Pandemic. There has been no information on the Delta variant from the Health Department. Mr. Hord was told that Auditor Randall is at home now and doing well.

Ordinances and Resolutions: There were no ordinances or resolutions read.

Miscellaneous Business:

Mr. Regis made a motion to accept the Settlement Agreement and Repayment Plan between the City of Martins Ferry and Donald Mew. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried and the Settlement Agreement is declared approved.

Mr. Regis made a motion to reflect Council has received reports from the Officers and Management, and to incorporate these reports into the minutes. Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.

Mr. Regis made a motion to cancel the August 4, 2021 Council Meeting. A special meeting could be called if needed. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Schramm voting yes. The motion is declared passed and the August 4 Meeting of Council is cancelled. The next meeting of Council will be on Wednesday, August 18.

Mr. Shrodes moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Hunker. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.