City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of September 1, 2021

Posted on: September 1, 2021

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, September 1, 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. A moment of silence was held in honor of the 13 Service Men and Woman that were killed in Afghanistan and also remembering those who lost their lives 20 years ago on September 11, 2001. This moment was 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 August 18, 2021 Council Meeting were approved as written.

Correspondence: Correspondence was received from Walter Drane stating that the 2021 Replacement Pages to the Martins Ferry Codified Ordinances will be sent to Jo Anne Regis. An Ordinance will then be presented to Council to adopt the replacement pages.

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor: Mayor Davies reported that the house on Center Street has been torn down and 99% of the debri has been hauled away. The remaining hard fill will be used to fill in the basement of the Rose Café which will be demolished by the Mayor next week.

Because of the amount of recent rain received, grass cutting is an issue. Crews are doing the best they can with the cemeteries and the other lots in town. Currently, there are only two part-time workers to cut grass.

Curbside Clean-up Week will be September 20-24, 2021. Pick-ups will be the same day as the residents scheduled trash day.

Council’s permission was requested for the Lion’s Club to use the City Park on October 9, 2021 for a Fall Festival.

Different things are being tried to alleviate the flooding in the City. With the recent rain storms, there has been no reports of flooding. Preventive measures include keeping the creeks clean and strategically installing six new catch basins in different parts of the city to control flooding.

Mr. Sutak is negotiating with Nelson Tree Service to remove a few trees in the cemeteries.

On behalf of the school bus drivers, Mr. Shrodes thanked the Mayor for removing the brush and trees sticking out on the “turn around” areas of the city. Mr. Rodgers asked if the “no parking” signs were placed on Cemetery Road to make it easier for the school buses to get to J. C. Manor. The Mayor wasn’t sure if this was done but said there was a work order for these signs. Mr. Burns expressed appreciation for the catch basin near his home which alleviated flooding in his neighborhood and also for the Mayor’s time and effort in demolishing a few buildings in town.

The Mayor distributed an email from The Ohio Grants Partnership which states that Martins Ferry will now receive $682,266.66 from the American Rescue Plan Act, which will be paid in two installments. There are no guidelines set on how this money is to be used. This amount is about half of what was originally expected.

Service Director: No report.

Safety Director: Director Regis met with the Finance and Safety Committees about purchasing a stand-by propane generator for the Liberty Fire House. Cost of the generator is $9,500. If the power goes out at the Fire House, it will automatically switch over to the generator. The Liberty Fire Station serves as a Heating and Cooling Station during extreme weather conditions. Director Regis asked Council for funds to purchase the generator.

Auditor: No report.

Law Director: No report.

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: Mr. Regis reported that a combined Finance and Safety Committee Meeting was held on Monday, August 30, 2021. Issues discussed include: backup generator for the Liberty Fire Station, Auditor Randall’s request to transfer $10,000 from the General Fund to the Cemetery Fund, and the possible purchase of a Fire Training Center at a cost of approximately $9,000.

Street: No report.

Ordinance: Later in the meeting, Mr. Shrodes set up an Ordinance Committee and Safety Meeting for Thursday, September 9 at 5:30 p.m. in Chambers.

Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.

Code Administration: Mr. Regis set up a meeting for Wednesday, September 8 at 5:30 p.m. in Chambers. Betty Suto, Code Administrator will be invited to the meeting to discuss violations and any other problems in the city.

Safety: Mr. Schramm reported that Chief McFarland contacted a company that will purchase all the old Taser guns and cartridges.

Service: No report.

Cemetery: Mr. Burns agreed with the Mayor that it has been very hard to keep up with the grass cutting in the cemeteries. He mentioned that a tree stump is decaying at the Walnut Grove Cemetery and hoped crews could remove it and fill in the hole.

Public Relations: Rich Donnelly will be at the Chamber of Commerce Dinner at the Recreation Center in October for a book signing. Tickets are now on sale.

Real Estate/Utility: No report.

Income Tax: No report.

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

Joe Charlton, 1002 North 6th Street, was concerned that a vehicle he recently purchased was not street legal and was not going to be allowed to be driven in the city limits of Martins Ferry. This vehicle is low speed, licensed by the BMV and approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation. President Davis said that legislation regarding this matter is being sent to Committee because it is more complicated than just one vehicle.

Faith Butler, 324 North Zane Highway, informed Council that the Martins Ferry ordinance does specify that low speed vehicles aren’t included in the all purpose vehicles that are banned from driving on city streets. She said that Mr. Charlton’s vehicle is registered, has a license plate and is street legal by the State Department.

George Haggerty, 712 Broadway Street, stated he owns a house at 434 Cemetery Road which was hit by a garbage truck a few year ago. Recently it was hit again and the post was knocked out from underneath the porch. He is afraid the porch may collapse. He asks that the Sanitation Truck Drivers maneuver the truck more carefully down the alley. The Mayor said he will look into this situation.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, asked the Mayor what he felt were his major accomplishments so far this year. Mayor Davies answered: the hospital re-opening, a few dilapidated buildings were torn down, some infrastructure has been repaired, workforce has worked together through the Pandemic and the safety forces has kept citizens safe. When asked for his goals for the rest of 2021, the Mayor replied that he needs to find a few more qualified employees, demolish a few more dilapidated buildings, and create a paving plan for next year. Mr. Hord was told a few businesses have shown interest in some empty buildings in town but no definite plans as of yet. Chief McFarland reported he has a list of names for the Police Chief’s plaque but he is missing a few names from the late 1800s. A plaque is also being created for past Fire Chiefs.

Joe Charlton, 1002 North 6th Street, informed Council that a snow plow knock a curb down in front of his house. Water now runs down his driveway into his garage and washes out the back of his house. The Mayor said the city is looking into purchasing a curb machine from EBay. The Mayor said city crews could install a hand curb to divert the water.

Sheila Carpenter, 813 Indiana Street, a member of The Ohio River Concerned Citizens, spoke regarding the dust around the Austin Masters Steel Building and the air quality. Mayor Davies was told by a representative from the EPA that a complaint was filed against Austin Masters. The EPA is going to begin monitoring the air quality near this plant. Mrs. Carpenter worried that this plant may deter people to move to Martins Ferry. The Mayor said he would not run a business out of town unless he was 100% sure that the company was harming the people or the city’s water supply.

Alexandria Goddard, 910 Carlisle Street, asked if Austin Masters is in compliance with the city’s ordinance for the source water protection area. The Mayor replied yes. Ms. Goddard also asked how often compliance is monitored at the facility regarding the source water protection area. The Mayor replied daily and sometimes more than once a day. The wells are monitored electronically from the Pump House so if something happens to the well, it is know immediately. The water is monitored daily, and the Radon levels have been .55 for 17 years and have never changed. The Mayor said he will try and get answers to these questions and get the information to Ms. Goddard.

Beverly Reed, 98-5th. Street, Bridgeport, Ohio, stated that the Ohio River Concerned Citizens has not shared any false information. She showed a map of the Water Protection Area and shared her concerns about what might happen to the water and the aquafer in the future. Pictures highlighting specific concerns posed by Ms. Reed were shown to Council. The Mayor will gather more information and will set up a meeting with the group within the next two weeks.

Ordinances and Resolutions:

An Ordinance, concerning amending Chapter 307, Golf Carts, was sent to Council Members. After receiving questions about this legislation before the meeting, President Davis has referred this to the Ordinance and Safety Committees.

Miscellaneous Business:

Mr. Shrodes suggested that grants be researched to supply back-up generators for the Police Department and the City Building as well as the Fire Department.

Mr. Regis motioned and Mr. Rodgers seconded to transfer $10,000 from the General Fund to the Cemetery Fund. 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. Schramm to allow the Lions Club to use the City Park on October 9, 2021 for a Fall Festival. Mrs. Armstrong seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.

Motion was made by Mr. Regis and seconded by Mr. Burns to appropriate $9,500 from General Fund for the purchase of a generator for the Liberty Engine Company. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.

Mr. Regis asked the Mayor if he looked at the house next to 1114 Pearl Street that was brought to Council’s attention at the last meeting. Mayor Davies said he and Mr. Sutak visited the property after the last Council Meeting. Paula Hill, the homeowner at 1114 Pearl Street was not home to discuss the issue further. The Mayor will check with Betty Suto, Code Administrator, to see if a letter was sent notifying the owner about issues his property is creating for the home at 1114 Pearl Street.

Mr. Burn made a motion to allow the Mayor to apply for a credit card with a $10,000 limit. Guidelines to be determined. A purchase order will still be required. 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 was declared passed. Director Regis said Council will need to set a policy regarding this card and he will find the code section referencing this policy and send to Mr. Stecker.

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