Posted on: March 2, 2023
The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, February 15, 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 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. Bob Hunker, First Ward Council Member, informed President Davis that he was unable to attend this meeting.
President Davis thanked Council for the new audio system and reminded members to speak directly into the microphones.
Minutes: Minutes of the February 1, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.
Correspondence: There was no correspondence.
Reports of Officers of the City:
Mayor: Mayor Davies read the February 15, 2023 letter he received from Bill Suto, Martins Ferry Water Superintendent and Donnie Neavin, Operator of Record regarding the East Palestine Train Derailment. Martins Ferry draws its water from Artesian Deep Wells that are 30-70 feet deep, not from the Ohio River. The department will continue their regular daily/monthly sampling efforts mandated by the Ohio EPA to ensure the city’s water is safe now and in the foreseeable future.
The Mayor asked for permission to borrow money to demolish possibly 8-10 houses in the city. Loan Payments would be made from the demolition fund derived from a percentage of the income tax money.
Two businesses may be interested in occupying the former Staffilino Property but additional details could not be shared at this time.
A Crochet Class is being offered at the Recreation Center on Saturday and the free skating event last Sunday was well received with almost 200 people in attendance.
The First Christian Church would like to have a Car Show on May 20, 2023 (rain date May 27), 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. They would like to use Zane Highway from Jefferson Street to Adams Street, and Madison Street from Pearl Street to Indiana Street.
Mr. James Everson has offered to donate $100,000 over a five year period to Health Right to provide health care to the citizens of Belmont County, if matched yearly by a $25,000 allocation from the Belmont County Commissioners, a $10,000 yearly donation from the City of Martins Ferry and a $10,000 yearly donation from the City of St. Clairsville. The Mayor asked Council if they would like to move forward with this request. Health Right provides about $200,000 of free health care benefits to Belmont County residents every year.
The Mayor requested Council go into Executive Session toward the end of the meeting to discuss Contract Negotiations.
The Lions Club would like to partner with the City to make improvements to the City Park. Ideas include: moving the basketball court to Fourth Street, building a Picnic Shelter, and new rest rooms.
A fence has been installed around the Impound Lot. Security Cameras will be installed as soon as the electricity is hooked up. A 10 ft. buffer will also be installed around the lot to protect the fence from being damaged. Council, with the help of Attorney Stecker, will need to decide on whether they should purchase the impound lot property or rent it from the EMS Department.
Service Director: Mr. Sutak would like to investigate loans and rates for borrowing money to continue demolishing dilapidated houses in the city. He will estimate the amount of income tax money to be allocated to the demolition fund and establish a possible repayment schedule. Hopefully, houses can be grouped together by area to cut down on mobilization costs.
Larry Merry, Director of the Belmont County Port Authority, has given two dates that he is available to meet with Council. Mr. Sutak asked Council to let him know which date would work for them and he would set it up.
Correspondence was received from Cory DelGuzzo regarding the State Route 647 property. Mr. DelGuzzo will review his research with Attorney Stecker before submitting his report to Council.
Mr. Schramm asked if the trash along 6th Street Extension could be picked up. Mr. Sutak said if the weather is nice on Friday, he would have 2 part-time employees clean that area.
Safety Director: No report.
Auditor: A Statement of Cash Position with MTD Totals for the period of January 1, 2023 to February 28, 2023 was distributed. Auditor Regis and Mr. Sutak will meet with Department Managers and begin to put the budget together. They will then meet with the Finance Committee to review all the figures. Auditor Regis advised Council that the budget will be tight this year and spending will have to be watched closely. He thanked the Office Staff and Administration for their support during this transition time. The Verizon bill has been reduced and credit cards have been secured for various departments.
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: Mr. Shrodes set up a combined Service Committee and Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, February 22 at 10:00 a.m. to meet with Mr. Larry Merry.
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.
Larry Perkins, 101 Curtis Lane, St. Clairsville, Secretary of the Ebenezer Zane Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, asked Council’s permission to place a sign at the Walnut Grove Cemetery commemorating and honoring the Revolutionary War Heroes. There is a QR Code on the sign, which once scanned by a cell phone, takes you to a website containing information about Ebenezer Zane and Betty Zane.
Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, was told the meeting on February 22 with Larry Merry was opened to the public. The Water Superintendent has been in contact with 2 EPA Representatives regarding the city’s concerns with the East Palestine train derailment situation. Since the city’s water comes from wells, there is no concern at this time with water safety. The street sweeper is currently operational and should begin its weekly cleaning schedule next month. Even though Officer Starkey is on medical leave, officers are still writing code violations. Mr. Hord thanked the city for patching the potholes on Virginia Street to Zane Highway and asked if potholes could be patched on the 900 block of South 10th Street. The Mayor revealed that there are talks with a couple of different businesses that want to locate in Martins Ferry but nothing definite yet.
Frank Capini, President of the United Steel Workers, St. Clairsville, Ohio, asked Council to seriously consider supporting the Health Right proposal from Mr. and Mrs. James Everson.
Ordinances and Resolutions:
There were no Ordinances or Resolutions to be read.
AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF MARTINS
FERRY TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR THE ZANE
HIGHWAY 12” WATERLINE CONNECTION TO AETNA
STREET BOOSTER STATION AND DECLARING AN
Mr. Burns mentioned again there is a hump of cold patch, between 404 and 406 Broadway Street, that the Gas Company hasn’t smoothed out. Mr. Sutak said the company is aware of this spot and will fixed it as soon as the weather breaks and asphalt is available.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to give the Sons of the American Revolution, Ebenezer Zane Chapter, permission to erect a sign outside of the Walnut Grove Cemetery, on the right side of the Betty Zane Monument. Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Schramm made a motion to allow the First Christian Church to have Zane Highway closed from Jefferson Street to Adams Street, and Madison Street from Pearl Street to Indiana Street, for a Car Show on May 20, 2023 (rain date May 27, 2023). Mrs. Armstrong seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, and Burns voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes motioned to allow the Service Director to pursue investigation of loans and rates for borrowing money for demolition. Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes asked where funds might be available for the decaling of 3 Police Cruisers at a cost of $7,137.86 and the $10,000 Health Right matching donation. Mr. Sutak suggested three funds for this payment: The General Capital Outlay, The American Rescue Money and The Police Maintenance of Vehicles Line Item. Mr. Shrodes made a motion and Mr. Schramm seconded to allow the Service Director to proceed with possible appropriation lines for the total of $7,137.86 for completion of the outfitting of the police cruisers. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried. Mr. Sutak suggested to wait until the budget is in place to see if any money can be freed up in the General Fund Appropriations for a $10,000 donation to Health Right.
Mr. Burns notified Mr. Sutak that the passenger’s seatbelt in Police Cruiser #4 needs repaired.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion to go into Executive Session under Ohio Revised Code 121.22 G4, for contract negotiations and collective bargaining. Motion was seconded by Mrs. Armstrong. A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, and Schramm voting yes. The motion carried.
Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to go out of Executive Session and back into general session. Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm. A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm and Shrodes voting yes. The motion carried.
Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to accept the findings of the Fact-Finder Report. Motion was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm and Shrodes voting yes. The motion carried.
Mr. Shrodes made a motion that Council excuse Mr. Hunker from this meeting. Mr. Schramm seconded the motion. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.
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. Hunker. After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.
Mr. Schramm made a motion to note that Council has received and reviewed the financial reports for the current month. Mrs. Armstrong seconded the motion. A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Schramm and Shrodes voting yes. The motion carried.
Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mr. Rodgers. After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned with a salute to the flag.
The next meeting of Council will be on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Mr. Rodgers, President Pro-Tempore will preside over the meeting since President Davis will be unable to attend the meeting.
Kay H. McFarlan, Clerk of Council Kristine Davis, Council President