City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of November 3, 2021

Posted on: November 3, 2021

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, November 3, 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 and Jack Regis, Council at Large Members. Mr. Schramm notified President Davis that he was unable to attend tonight’s meeting due to illness.

President Davis congratulated everyone for being re-elected to Council and expressed appreciation for their service.

Correspondence: There was no correspondence.

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor: Mayor Davies introduced Dwayne Pielech, Belmont County Senior Services Director. Mr. Pielech described the programs offered to the County’s Senior Citizens and answered questions regarding Senior Services relationship with Wheeling Hospital and East Ohio Regional Hospital (EORH). When a Senior Resident calls for medical services, they are not directed to any specific facility. After East Ohio Regional Hospital closed, 80% of Senior Services client base used WVU Medicine for their doctor visits, lab work, and x-rays, etc. Mr. Pielech told Council that Senior Services is trying to add more value to the centers in order to attract senior citizens. This is why they approached Wheeling Hospital about offering direct services such as access to a nurse practitioner at the centers, performing blood draws, and other well-care amenities. Earlier this year, Senior Services did contact EORH for help with COVID testing, Flu Shot vaccinations and CPR Training. Unfortunately the hospital was unable to help at that time so the Agency had to turn elsewhere. Mr. Pielech said Senior Services is committed to working with EORH. Several programs are being identified and EORH made a commitment that if they don’t currently offer the service needed, they will consider hiring someone to provide that service. EORH does not have wellness programs or mental health services established as of yet. Mrs. Armstrong asked that when a partnership for services is established with EORH, that it be publicized in the same way as it was done for Wheeling Hospital. The Mayor said if a bigger venue is need on certain occasions, the Recreation Center could be available. Mr. Sutak also mentioned that Martins Ferry EMS is available for transport service needs.

Mayor Davies congratulated Council on their re-election and looks forward to working with them in the next two years.

The seasonal help hired for grass cutting will be lay-off this week.

The Mayor met with the Ohio Public Works Commission and summited a grant applications for a waterline project that would run a dedicated line to the hospital and the business district. Unfortunately the city’s scores weren’t high enough to be considered. Other funding mechanisms are being sought to fund this project.

Council’s permission is sought to allow Ideal Provisions to have a Food Truck Festival in the City Park on April 16, 2022. There will be food, crafts and activities for the kids.

City crews have been patching potholes and fixing waterline breaks. The Water Department is still hoping to replace two lines before the end of the year. One is on West Lawn and would cost about $13,250. The other line is on Old Cadiz Road.

The ambulances owned by East Ohio Regional Hospital will only provide transportation and will not be doing emergency calls.

Three (3) city-owned dump trucks are now in service and ready for snow removal.

The Mayor gave Mr. Howard a new one-year lease stating that the Park District will run the pool and the concession stand. The maintenance of the building and grounds will be turned over to the city. New programs and ideas for the building are being considered to get more usage from the building and make it self-supporting. Many improvements are needed to the building. Mr. Sutak would like to apply for a Recreational Grant that would enable the city to upgrade the ball fields, install batting cages, new field lighting and fencing. This would be a matching grant.

The Mayor spoke to Mr. Sutak and Chief McFarland about building an impound lot on the site of the former Rose Café. It was estimated that an impound lot could generate $300,000 to $400,000 a year for the city. Fencing and cameras would need to be installed. Mr. Regis made a motion to allow the Administration to explore installing an impound lot on the site of the former Rose Café. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Burns voting yes. The motion was declared passed.

Service Director: Mr. Sutak expounded on the Recreational Grant which can be matched up to $500,000 resulting in a $1,000,000 grant. He has been contacting the banks, civic groups, and local organizations seeking funding for the city’s matching part. Fundraisers could also be planned. It is hoped that the city can raise $250,000 to be able to receive $250,000 from the grant for a total of $500,000. The grant deadline is November 15. Grant awards would be announced in March or April of next year. If this funding is received, it is hoped that lighting at Fodor Field can be replaced and the basketball court moved so batting cages can be built next to the Field. Renovations are also planned for the City Park, the Pool, and the Recreational Center. Mr. Regis mentioned possibly building a Picnic Pavilion in the Park and Mr. Burns suggested a company that could refurbish the Fountain.

Mr. Shrodes reported that the Lions Club wanted to thank everyone that helped with the Fall Festival that was held in the Park last month.

President Davis reminded Mr. Sutak about the crack near Mr. Schramm’s home. Mr. Sutak said it was on the “to do” list.

Mr. Hunker thanked Mr. Sutak for placing signs on Buckeye Street reminding out-of-town truck drivers that it is a residential street. He also asked for an update on the South Zane Highway paving job and was told Mr. Stecker will make a decision on how to proceed with getting the road up to standard.

Safety Director: Director Regis announced the Christmas Parade will be held on Friday, November 26. He is afraid there may be a candy shortage this year due to supply chain issues. Director Regis will be applying for a Fire Fighter Grant. The Fire Chiefs will be consulted as to what items should be requested in the application such as air packs and turn-out gear. Director Regis asked Council to consider recognizing the Martins Ferry Youth Tackle Football Team. The Team finished second in their league.

Auditor: Auditor Randall was unable to attend tonight’s meeting due to illness but she asked President Davis to mention 2 things to Council:
1) The city is paying $604 per month for internet and phone charges for Council’s I-Pads and for some of the laptops in the city building. She would like Council to consider stopping this service since most people have their own internet service. Mr. Shrodes made a motion to stop the internet/phone charges on the I-Pads used by Council. Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Regis and Hunker voting yes. The motion was declared passed.

2) Auditor Randall asked Council Members not to approach the clerks in the Auditor’s Office on the first working day of the month. This day is an extremely busy time for the clerks and if Council Members could wait until another day, it would be appreciated.

Law Director: No report.

Police Department: Chief McFarland expressed disappointment in the passage of the “sensible” Marijuana Ordinance levy yesterday. He reminded Council that Marijuana is still illegal and if residents are caught in possession of Marijuana they will still be charged through County Court. The Chief told Council that a Federal Grant is being applied for to help with the cost of body cameras. Enterprise Rental Company is being consulted on the cost of replacing a few patrol vehicles. It was reported that Sargent Beth Scales was attached by a dog while serving an arrest warrant and received multiple stitches. The Chief said she is healing and back to work.

Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

Park District: Mr. Howard reported that the Recreation Center is booked every weekend through March. The Tackle Football Team that was referenced earlier has 2 parties scheduled at the Center.

Water Department: No report.

Reports of Committees of Council:

Finance and Audit: No report.

Street: No report.

Ordinance: No report.

Sewer/Sidewalk: No report.

Code Administration: No report.

Safety: No report.

Service: In the course of fixing a small leak in the sewer, the water department traced it back to a storm drain. Mr. Suto, Water Superintendent, smelled chlorine, which is in the city’s treated water. This water should not be in the sewer. Crews then found a leak which was allowing 3,000,000 gallons of water to empty in the sanitary sewer. After this situation was corrected, residents in the South end of town noticed their water pressure had doubled.

Cemetery: Mr. Burns reported he has more dirt and will fill-in the holes at the Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Public Relations: No report.

Real Estate/Utility: No report.

Income Tax: Mrs. Armstrong stated the Income Tax revenue is doing well even though there is a Street Department distribution and a holding for East Ohio Regional Hospital. As of last month, $102,101 is in the holding fund for the hospital. The distribution to the hospital will be done in the first quarter of next year. Mr. Burns stated he would like to see an accounting of who is paying the income tax. There is a concern that some businesses may not be withholding the city tax from their employees. Auditor Randall will be consulted on this matter.

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

Tom Burns, Councilman-at-Large, spoke on the Veterans Memorial Banner Project. The banners will be 2 ft. x 3 ft. with a cost of $100. Mr. Burns will call a meeting of the committee before Thanksgiving. The Lions Club has offered to help.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, mentioned that the old Staffilino Building will be auctioned off later in November. He hopes the building might be develop into a shopping mall, another car dealership or possibly a new city building? Mr. Hord inquired about the Hall of Honor. The Mayor said he has not heard anything. Mr. Hord asked if more voting sites could be established in the city. Everyone needs to have transportation to go to the school campus to vote. Not everyone has available transportation. The Mayor said it is the Election Board that sets up the voting sites, not the city.

Beverly Reed, 98 – 5th Street, Bridgeport, Ohio, contacted Ohio EPA on the status of the Bridgeport wells. The EPA replied that they are permanently shutting down the Bridgeport Wells and the hook-up with the Martins Ferry Water Supply will be permanent. Ms. Reed has received a revised copy of the Ohio Drinking Water Source Assessment which lists protective strategies that cities can do to prevent contamination of their water supply. She suggested the Administration look at these strategies and do as much as possible to protect the water. The city would like to install a Monitoring Well at the southern end of the water plant property to enabling early detection of any potential problems. Ms. Reed distributed 3 copy of a national report called Physicians for Social Responsibility which explained Pfas chemicals used in Fracking. The EPA calls these chemicals “Forever Chemicals” because they never break down. The Mayor was receptive to scheduling a meeting with two experts recommended by Ms. Reed.

Rob Reed, 701 North Lincoln Ave., Bridgeport, Ohio, asked the Mayor for the cost of project that connected Martins Ferry Water Supply to Bridgeport’s water system. The Mayor said the cost incurred was around $300,000. Mr. Reed stressed that a large amount of toxic materials will be moving through the area in the next couple of years and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen in Martins Ferry that happened in Bridgeport. Safety concerns to be stressed to companies that transport harmful chemicals through our area!

Ordinances and Resolutions:

There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.

Miscellaneous Business:

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.

Mr. Shrodes said the Lion’s Club will decorate the City Park with flags for Veteran’s Day on Saturday, November 6.

Mr. Rodgers made a motion to excuse Councilman Schramm from tonight’s meeting. Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Rodgers made a motion to allow Ideal Provisions to have a Food Truck Festival at the City Park on April 16, 2022. A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Burns, Regis, Hunker, Shrodes and Armstrong voting yes. The motion carried.

Mr. Sutak told Chief McFarland to get the officers registered for the Police Department Training classes next year. Mr. Regis said he will take the issue of funding for this training to the next Finance Committee.

Mr. Regis made a motion to allow the Service Director to continue with the Recreation Grant Application and if the grant is approved, allow him to apply for a loan of $500,000. Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker. A roll call vote was heard with Regis, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Burns voting yes. The motion carried.

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