City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of August 16, 2023

Posted on: September 8, 2023

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, August 16, 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, James Agnew, and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.          

            Minutes:  Minutes of the August 2, 2023 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  Mayor Davies began his report by emphatically disagreeing with recommendations in Auditor Regis’s report to Council and expressed his reasons to Council.   He would like to see a report from the Auditor’s office on a breakdown of where the income tax money, the police levy and the EMS levy is being spent.  Gas and Oil Rights amount to $17,000 and future contracts will be extended one year at time.  President Davis informed Council that the Auditor can only recommend changes; he does not have the power to tell Council how to set the budget. 

The Tree of Life Church is prepared to pay $5,000 for the former Curley Property and Mr. Stecker will prepare the deed.  This money will be placed in the General Fund. 

There were two major water breaks this week, one on Center Street and one on First Street.  The city went dry on Sunday.  If there had been a fire, it could have jeopardized the hospital, businesses, homes and lives of our citizens.  The Mayor explained what caused the breaks and the steps that were taken to fix them.  He praised the dedication of the water department employees for their determination to restore water to the citizens.  Water Department employees suggested, among other things, isolating the city into four quadrants.  This way, any quadrant, at any time, could be shut off instead of closing down the whole city.  The administration is looking into purchasing a hydraulic pipe cutter, which would be safer for the employees and would save time cutting the pipe.

Mayor Davies and Mr. Sutak attended an OMEGA Meeting to learn about grants, some of which will not be funded.   The Mayor asked Council and the citizens to write letters/make phone calls to their local and state representatives describing the severity of the water situation in the city and plead for funding to get a dedicated line to the hospital/business district and improvements to the Water Plant.  The Mayor elaborated on upgrades needed at the Water Plant.  Modernizations to the plant will amounts to millions of dollars. 

City Employee Appreciation Day will be on Friday, August 18 at the Recreation Center.  It will include a cookout and swimming for employees and their families.

Two employees are keeping the cemetery well maintained.  Trees were taken down and removed from Colerain Pike.  Pothole patching is almost complete. 

The person who inquired about purchasing the sandstone from the city for $10,000 has withdrawn the offer. 

Service Director:  Mr. Sutak spoke with several Representatives regarding funding for a dedicated water line to the hospital.  Approximate cost of the line is $1,000,000.  It is believed the city has been approved for $644,000.  Additional funding is being investigated.  Mr. Sutak would like every Council Member to write a letter to their Local, State and Federal Representatives and stress there is an immediate need for upgrades on our water system.  He explained the 5 phases of improvements needed for the Water Plant and water lines. 

Next week, workers will begin re-boxing a sewer in the alley behind Grant Street and 7th Street.  A new catch basin will also be installed. 

The application for the Beretta Drive Guardrail Project is ready to be submitted if Council passes the Resolution tonight.  Mr. Sutak explained the grant money, the point system and the city’s share of the expense of this project.

Mr. Sutak explained the storm sewer situation on Overlook Drive where he believes there is mine subsidence.  He will look for funding to help shore up this road.  The Mayor expounded on the severity of this situation since water and gas lines may be affected as well as the homes on the street below Overlook Drive.  Council discussed the Overlook Drive situation for 16 minutes.  Mr. Sutak will email Council the names and addresses of the Representatives that citizens can write or call about the infrastructure problems the city is facing.  He will also prepare a description of the problems that need addressed.  The Mayor will post on Social Media some of the challenges the city is facing and ask citizens to contact their local, state and federal representatives to ask for assistance. 

Mr. Shrodes asked if anything could be done about water running down South Ridge Drive.  The Mayor has some ideas on how to elevate the situation in this area and said they are going to look at it tomorrow. 

Safety Director:  No report.

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy reported his department assisted U.S. Marshalls in apprehending an attempted murder suspect.  K-9 Patch and his handler assisted in arresting a man, involved in an assault, who had barricaded himself in a closet.    Two Police Officers have completed phase 2 of the Crisis Intervention Training.  Chief Murphy applied and has received a $7,761.18 grant from the Bureau of Workers Compensation for 8 new body armor vests.  Total cost of the body armor is $10,348.24.  The grant is a 25% matching grant.  The Chief has applied for a $1,000 PEP Grant to help with the 25% match of $2,587.06.   He also applied and received a $300 grant from Harbor Freight for the purchase of bolt cutters and a shop vacuum.  Contract talks are being held with a body camera system company to negotiate another 5 year contract.  A savings of $4,000 is expected.  An officer has just been re-certified as a Taser Instructor.  The Mayor congratulated Chief Murphy and his officers on the apprehension of the suspects.  President Davis commended Chief Murphy on applying and receiving the body armor grant and the Harbor Freight Grant as well as applying for the additional PEP grant. 

Auditor:  Auditor Regis was not at the meeting but supplied Council Members with a report and financial statements. He also asked Council to approve an invoice from Enterprise for $9,852.20 for the Fire Department.  This is a normal bill for the Fire Department but the invoice was submitted before the Purchase Order was signed. 

            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:  The Ordinance Meeting has been re-scheduled for Monday, August 21, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  Mr. Burns acknowledged the work Mr. Larry Riser who voluntarily does a lot of weeding at the Betty Zane Cemetery and around town. 

Public Relations:  No report.

Real Estate/Utility:  No report.

Income Tax: There will be an Income Tax Meeting on Monday, August 21 at 10:00 a.m. which coincides with the Ordinance Meeting. 

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

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, thanked the city workers who participated in the restoration of water to residents during the breaks on Sunday.  The Mayor said the boil order is now expired.  Regarding Martins Ferry’s infrastructure, the Mayor said when there are 5-6 breaks in one area, those lines are targeted for replacement.  Martins Ferry is the oldest city in Ohio, so it has the oldest infrastructure.  The Fire Department was thanked for the successful Betty Zane Festival, which provided great food, great vendors, great entertainment and great fireworks for the citizens.  There is no timetable for the completion of the Columbia gas line replacement project.  At this time, the Mayor did not think the city could afford offering support to Wheeling Health Right. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            An Ordinance Accepting The Road Described On Exhibit A As A Dedicated Municipal Public Street.  
           This Ordinance was given a second reading.  This Ordinance will go to a third reading. 

            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. 

             This Resolution was given a first reading.  Motion was made by Mr. Rodgers to suspend the rules.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Burns.  A roll call vote was heard with Rodgers, Burns, Schramm, Agnew, Hunker, Shrodes, and Armstrong voting yes.  Motion was made by Mr. Burns to pass the Resolution as read.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm.  A roll call vote was heard with Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes.  The Resolution was declared passed. 






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mr. Shrodes made a motion to approve payment of an invoice for the Fire Department to Enterprise in the amount of $9,852.20.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Hunker.  Note:  The Fire Department does have the money to make this payment.  A roll call vote was heard with Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew, Schramm, and Hunker voting yes.  The motion was declared passed.

Motion was made by Mr. Hunker and seconded by Rev. Agnew that Council approve the position of cash statement and payroll summary financials.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong, Rodgers, Burns, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion was declared 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.  

Mayor Davies informed Council that he wants to recognize two Eagle Scouts.  One Scout built the sandstone wall at Riverview Cemetery and another Scout revitalized the Floral Valley Park.  Proclamations will be forthcoming to honor these two young men.

The city has begun receiving bids for the proposed street paving project.  It has been almost 3 years since the Gas Company replaced lines on Zane Highway, leaving the street with several humps and bumps.  The city administration has contacted the contractor several times to express dissatisfaction with the job but the repairs have not been done.  Mayor Davies asked Council for permission to get bids on paving South Zane Highway.  Mr. Burns made a motion to allow the Mayor and Service Director to take bids for paving of South Zane Highway from the Tokyo Hibachi Restaurant, 1220 South Zane Highway (old Dairy Queen) to Aetna Street.  Motion was seconded by Mr. Schramm.  A roll call vote was heard with Burns, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Shrodes, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes.  Motion carried.

Mayor Davies asked Rev. Agnew, who is also a School Board Member, to let the school district know that the city will be painting white lines up each side of the road off of St. Rt. 647 leading to the school. 

             Mrs. Armstrong moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Rev. Agnew.  After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 7:26 p.m. with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at the City Building. 

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