City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of February 1, 2023

Posted on: February 16, 2023

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 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 Jim Schramm Council at Large Members.           

            President Davis introduced Mr. Phil Wallace from the Belmont County Democratic Central Committee.  With Council’s permission, the order of business was changed to allow Mr. Wallace to speak.  Mr. Wallace announced the new City Auditor will be former Councilman Mr. Jack Regis.  He explained the process the committee used to appoint the new City Auditor.  The Committee will now have 45 days to appoint a new Council at Large Member, who will serve until the end of the year, to replace Mr. Regis.  President Davis thanked the Democratic Central Committee for acting so quickly and congratulated Mr. Regis on his new appointment. 

            The Council Clerk then read the letter of resignation from Mr. Regis which will be filed with these minutes. 

            Minutes:  Minutes of the January 11, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  Mayor Davies reported a tractor trailer hit a utility pole near the Water Plant.  This incident destroyed at least one air compressor at the Plant and possibly two.  A claim has been submitted to the City’s Insurance Company since the truck that hit the pole was not identified. 

The Mayor asked Council if the Administration could borrow money now and demolish more houses in the city.   Money designated from the City Income Tax for Demolition would be used to make the payments on the loan.  A loan of $150,000 was suggested.  There are about 30 dilapidated houses in the city that need razed.

The Recreation Center is doing well.  Rental income amounted to around $3,000 in January.  The free skate on Sunday was very well attended.  Free hot dogs and drinks were included.  New lights in the gym were erected and a big screen TV was purchased to stream future events at the center. 

The City has plenty of road salt and is ready for winter road conditions.  One Packer is out of service and the delivery date for the new Packer, which was order over a year ago, is still unknown.  This is putting a strain on the Street Department because extra help is needed to pick up the trash in a timely manner. 

The Mayor was again approached by Mr. Brown who would like to purchase the property between the Recreation Center and 4th Street.  Council was asked to vote on selling the property.

Mr. Shrodes asked if the former Curley Property has been sold.  He was told that the Administration needs direction from Council on selling city property. 

Service Director:  Mr. Sutak has applied for a Water Equipment Grant to help with the purchase of a Valve Exerciser and accessories.  If received, it would provide $10,000 toward the $15,000 cost of this equipment. 

            Mr. Sutak asked for permission from Council to work on a T-Mobile Grant.  If the grant application is approved, the city could possibly receive $50,000 to renovate the City Park. 

            A list of projects already paid, and projects to be paid from the American Rescue Fund Money, was given to Council.  Director Sutak highlighted a few of the items on the list to Council.  Grants are also being sought to help with these projects.  This list will be included with these minutes. 

            If Council approves, Mr. Sutak will research the city’s Enterprise Zone to more fully promote land in the city and entice new businesses to our area. 

Safety Director:  Director Regis has submitted grants for the Fire Department to: 1) The Ohio Department of National Resources to replace the utility vehicle (a Side-by-Side); 2) The State Fire Marshall for $130,000 to replace all the steamer connections for the city’s fire hydrants; 3) FEMA for “turn-out” gear; and 4) Bureau of Worker’s Compensation for an extractor to clean gear after every fire.  Mr. Regis also gave an Instance Report on the calls received in 2022.

            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:   No report.

Street: No report.

Ordinance:  No report.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  The Service Committee met on January 24.  Discussion centered on parking meters, property violations, and light poles in the downtown area.  Committee members discussed attending a Belmont County Commissioner’s Meeting to discuss solutions to Property Violations.  Mr. Sutak will check to see if a request, to speak at the Commissioner’s Meeting, needs to be placed on the agenda.  Minutes of this meeting will be included with these Council Minutes. 

            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.  

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, asked if considerations would be given as to how the purchaser would be using the former Curly Property.  The Tree of Life Church would convert the land into a parking lot and a neighbor is interested in expanding their lawn.  The Mayor said both uses of the land would be good.  When asked why East Ohio Regional Hospital doesn’t advertise, the Mayor replied he couldn’t answer that questions but knows the hospital is growing.  He serves on the Board of Directors and hears of the hospital’s growth progress.  Regarding the Recreation Center, Mr. Hord inquired about the operating hours.  When the building was open for public use, one of the rooms was vandalized.  Until a director is able to be hired, reservations are needed for use of the building.  Mr. Hord asked if consideration could be given to honor J. Kline, who is retiring after 60 years of operating Kline Sweeper Service is the city. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to read.      






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Mr. Rodgers seconded to approve the 2023 Yearly Council Ordinance Reviews which lists the wages and salaries for elected officials and certain public listed by the Auditor’s Office.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried.  

Mr. Schramm made a motion not to sell the property from Hickory to 4th Street.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Burns voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Shrodes made a motion to allow the former Curly property (at the corner of Virginia and Jefferson Streets) to be sold to the highest bidder.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried.  

President Davis reminded Council Members of the Public Records Training Course that must be taken during their term in office.  She asked that they give her a copy of the completion certificate.

Mr. Shrodes motioned to allow the Service Director to proceed with the grant application through T-Mobile for use in renovating the City Park.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion carried.  

President Davis will re-do the Council Committee Assignments and distribute an updated list at the next meeting.

Mr. Shrodes would like to schedule a Services and Finance Committee Meeting to discuss the cost of razing more dilapidated houses in the city.  The meeting will be scheduled after the financial reports have been received on the income tax breakdowns. Mr. Sutak will check on loan rates to see if the income tax money, designated for demolition, will be enough to cover the debt payments. 

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to note in the minutes that Council has received and accepted the payment of bills as noted in the Check Register for January, 2023.  Mr. Schramm seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, Hunker, and Shrodes voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Schramm 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. Shrodes.   A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers and Burns voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Burns gave a report on his experience of escorting Police Officer Zack Cole on his 3-11 p.m. shift on January 27, 2023.  Officer Cole suggested speed bumps be placed on the north side of 5th. Street near the former Rose Café property.  When he is on duty at the Speiro Academy to escort the students at the crosswalk, vehicles are exceeding the speed limit despite the posted warning signs.  The Mayor said that the city isn’t allowed to place speed bumps for traffic control.  It was suggested to place two officers at the Academy – one to escort the children and one to conduct radar checks and write tickets. 

President Davis asked the Finance Committee to address the City’s position on the Everson Health Right Challenge as posed by James and Marlene Everson.  Mayor Davies elaborated on this Challenge. 

President Davis announced that she will be out-of-town during the March 1 meeting.  Mr. Rodgers, President Pro-Tempore, will preside at that meeting.

             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.

___________________________________               ___________________________________
Kay H. McFarlan, Clerk of Council                           Kristine Davis, Council President