City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of August 18, 2021

Posted on: August 18, 2021

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, August 18, 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 21, 2021 Council Meeting and the August 10, 2021 Special Council Meeting were approved as written.

1. The Walter Drane company has contacted the Council Clerk regarding updating the Codified Ordinances. Ordinances passed since August 5, 2020 have been sent to the company and the Clerk will be notified when the updates page are completed and ready to be shipped.

2. Correspondence was received from the Division of Liquor Control regarding the change of address for the Liquor License of the Dollar General Store. The Clerk has checked with Police Chief McFarland and he has no concerns or issues with this request.

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor: Mayor Davies reported that the new EMS Transport Vehicle has arrived and will be “lettered” next week.

With the recent storms, there has been a lot of flooding in town. A lot of the problems seem to be in the creek areas. Crews have been busy cleaning out the creeks and unclogging culverts. Catch basins have been purchased and will be placed in predetermined roads to eliminate some of the water run-off. The Mayor would like to purchase a curb machine and an asphalt grinder to help keep the curb drains opened for water drainage.

The city has signed all the paperwork for the demolition of the Center Street house and the owner was scheduled to come in two weeks ago to sign but did not show. Mr. Stecker said to tear it down since it is considered an imminent danger to the public. The Mayor hopes to begin on Monday to demolish this structure.

Mr. Regis asked if the area at the top of Mackey Avenue could be cleaned up. A tree trimming company, hired by American Electric Power (AEP), threw debri in the woods and Mr. Regis is afraid that it will wash out into the street and cause problems. The Mayor has had problems with this company in the past with illegal dumping. Mr. Sutak will notify AEP about issues with this company.

Since Mr. Dean backed out of signing his Broadway Street property over to the city, Mr. Rodgers asked if the funding that was designated to demolish this property could now be used to tear down a house on 8th Street owned by Mr. Birch. The Mayor said the problem is getting the paperwork in order.

Mr. Rodgers asked about the city building’s roof. The Mayor said currently the roof is secure and waterproof for the inside of the building. He would like to rent a lift to secure the outside of the building and make sure water isn’t getting behind the brick and pushing the wall out. The lift would also be used to take down a couple of trees in both Riverview and Walnut Grove Cemeteries.

Mr. Regis asked about the curbing on Overhill Drive. The Mayor stated the curb is lower in some spots than the catch basins. When it rains hard, the water overwhelms the curb and goes down over the hill. A curb machine would help in this situation. The city once owned a curb machine but it is unclear what has happened to it. Mr. Sutak would like to start a Fixed Assets Program. He would consult with Council on setting the minimum asset value amount.

Mr. Schramm mentioned he has seen a coating of possible limestone dust on his driveway. The Mayor said he would contact the company and see if they could do something to elevate this problem.

Mr. Shrodes asked why State Route 647 had a detour earlier today. The Mayor said crews were cutting the weeds back from the road before school starts next week.

Mr. Rodgers asked if two no-parking signs were installed across from J. C. Manor to alleviate problems for school buses. Mr. Sutak said he would check on this tomorrow. At the intersection of Grant Avenue and 8th Street, Mr. Shrodes asked if 20 feet of curb could be painted yellow so parked cars would not block the way for the School Buses to make the turn.

Service Director: Mr. Sutak has been working with the Engineering Company to apply for grants through House Bill 168 Ohio Public Works. He thanked Mr. Stecker for quickly putting together the Resolution which is needed to be sent in with all grant applications. Mr. Sutak asked Council to pass this Resolution tonight so he can proceed with the funding applications.

Mr. Sutak will check on prices for a curb machine and asphalt grinder. These machines will be extremely helpful in directing the water away from people’s property.

Safety Director: Director Regis thanked all involved in making the Betty Zane Days a successful Community Event. The Christmas Parade is scheduled for Friday, November 26 and Council’s permission was requested to use the City Streets.

Director Regis is checking into scheduling driver safety courses for the EMS and Fire Department which would help to reduce the city’s liability insurance.

The State Fire Marshall has a Revolving Loan Program. It is a no interest loan program with a 60 month payback period. The Fire Chief and the EMS Supervisors have been asked to create a list of “big ticket” items that they need but can’t afford from the regular budget. These items could possibly be purchased using this loan money. The loan application is due at the end of September but the awards won’t be announced until next Spring. Director Regis asks Council for permission to submit this loan application.

The new EMS Vehicle was parked in front of the city building for Council to view. It is not in service yet since the drivers need some training on it first. A new cot is needed for this vehicle at a cost of $22,259.25. This cot would have a Power Lift System which basically takes the human factor out of lifting. Director Regis asks Council to allow the EMS to borrow up to $23,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund with a 3 year payback period. This cot would last about 15-20 years and comes with a 7 year warranty.

Auditor: No report.

Law Director: No report.

Police Department: No report.

Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

Park District: Mr. Howard reported the Park District barely had enough money to pay the lifeguards during the season’s last pay period. The pool is now closed except for 3 days when events/parties are scheduled. The guards will be paid in cash for their services on these days. Mr. Howard informed Council of the following building issues that need addressed: air conditioner is broke and the roof is leaking in the dining room, the diving board needs replaced and the vacuum pump needs fixed or replaced. As of Friday, 2 employees will be laid off but have volunteered their services to the end of the year.

Water Department: No report.

Reports of Committees of Council:

Finance and Audit: Mr. Regis scheduled a combined Finance and Safety Committee Meeting for Monday, August 30, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. in Chambers.

Street: No report.

Ordinance: No report.

Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.

Code Administration: No report.

Safety: No report.

Service: No report.

Cemetery: No report.

Public Relations: No report.

Real Estate/Utility: No report.

Income Tax: No report.

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

Kim Tracy, 5 North 10th Street, expressed her appreciation for the city crews checking the creek near her house during the recent storm to make sure the overflow wasn’t clogged.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, thanked everyone involved in making the Town Hall Meeting with the County Commissioners a success. Mr. Hord noted the U.S. Census stated there was a 9.1% decrease in population in Martins Ferry. The Mayor believes the decrease of population isn’t that high. He said some citizens simply didn’t fill out the forms and there is not a lot of empty houses in town. President Davis said not everyone has the ability to go on-line and fill out the forms and because of COVID-19 they didn’t answer their door for strangers. Mr. Hord asked Mayor Davies his thoughts on the Austin Masters Facility since the Concerned Ohio River Residents Group (CORRG) was currently holding a meeting at the city park. The Mayor stated his concerns about the CORRG spreading misguided information and told Council the Water Plant is safe and continues to be rigorously tested on a regular basis. The CORRG meeting tonight is scripted and citizens had to submit their questions ahead of time. The Mayor said he asked Water Superintendent Bill Suto to test the water before it hits the Water Plant and then after it leaves the plant for radon. Results should be available soon. Regarding the rough road on the south end of Zane Highway, the Mayor will be sending a letter to the contractor and engineer who did the re-paving work to express his displeasure with the job.

Paula Hill, 1114 Pearl Street, spoke to Council about her wet basement and potential harm to her house from the vacant home next door. The house next door to her has been empty for a long time and she fears the clogged drain pipes, the rotting wood beams, the water soaked foundation, and shifting sidewalks will cause further damage to her home if not corrected. The Mayor said the owner has been cited on numerous violations and has 10 days to fix the problems. If the violations are not corrected, the owner will be called into Mayor’s Court. Mr. Stecker said Ms. Hill has certain civil rights that she can pursue and offered to speak to her after the meeting.

Ordinances and Resolutions:

Mr. Regis made a motion to suspend the 72-Hour Rule. Mr. Schramm seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.

A Resolution Authorizing The City Of Martins Ferry To Prepare And Submit An Application To Participate In The Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement And/Or Local Transportation Improvement Program(s) And To Execute Contracts As Required.

Mr. Rodgers motion to suspend the rules. Mr. Burns seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes and Armstrong voting yes. The motion carried. Mr. Hunker made a motion to pass the Resolution as read. Mr. Burns seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, and Regis voting yes. The motion carried and the Resolution was declared passed.

Miscellaneous Business:

Mr. Shrodes said there has been several complaints about citizens letting their trees and bushes grow onto other people’s property, sidewalks and alleyways. Property owners need to be aware that they are responsible for trees and shrubs on their property. Mr. Shrodes will give a statement to President Davis for the newspaper.

Mr. Regis made a motion to appropriate up to $23,000 from the Permanent Improvement Fund for a cot for the new squad with repayment over 3 years. Mr. Burns seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.

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. Hunker. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.

Motion was made by Mr. Burns to permit the Fire Department to use city streets for the Christmas Parade and Judges Stand on November 26, 2021. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Burns, Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried.

Motion was made by Mr. Burns to allow the Fire Department to apply to the State Fire Marshall’s Loan Program. (Mr. Stecker will submit an Ordinance at the next meeting). Motion was seconded by Mr. Regis. A roll call vote was heard with Burns, Schramm, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes. The motion carried.

Regarding dilapidated properties, Mr. Regis wondered if a lien could be place on the owner’s personal property. Mr. Hunker said there are a lots of citizens complaining about their neighbor’s trees infringing on their property and wondered if there was a way to force the owners to trim the trees.

The Mayor informed Council that a truck hit one of the Water Well Houses causing it to collapse. Damages amounted to $16,000. A claim to the trucker’s insurance company will be made to cover the repairs.

Mr. Regis praised the Street Department Personnel who cleaned up the Streets after recent storms.

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