City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of April 17, 2024

Posted on: May 3, 2024

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 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, Spencer Echemann, Second Ward Council Member; Suzanne Armstrong, Third Ward Council Member; Rick Rodgers, Fourth Ward Council Member; James Agnew and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.   President Davis reported Mr. Neiman was unable to attend this meeting but he hopes to make the next meeting.  The meeting location may need to be changed to accommodate Mr. Neiman’s condition. 

            Minutes:  Minutes of the March 27, 2024 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  As soon as asphalt is available, hot patch will be used to fix potholes.  The Street Sweeper will run this week and next week.  It will then run again for 2 weeks in November.  Pease Township Park District donated $5,000 towards the repayment of the loan from the Permanent Improvement Fund for the repairs to the city’s swimming pool. 

Service/Safety Director:  The city recently had a company do a survey of the well field to distinguish the property lines.  An application has been filed with the EPA for funding to put a fence around the well field to secure the area.  Funding is also being sought from Belmont County EMA (Emergency Management Agency) to help with the cost of cleaning up debri and fixing slips from the flooding.  Mr. Sutak reported on the upgrades to the Water Plant.  The Ohio Drilling Company is cleaning and making improvements to Well #5.  On April 29, work will begin on upgrades to the Contact Tanks and the Ozone Generators. 

            Auditor:  Mr. Regis asked that the position of Part-Time EMS Captain be examined and the benefits clearly defined.  Mr. Stecker will be consulted on this task.  Mr. Regis will create a table of organization positions and ask Council and President Davis to review.  A Finance Committee Meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy gave the end of March report.  March fees from the Impound Lot totaled. $875.  March revenue from auction of impound vehicles totaled $3,000.  There has been positive feedback for the recently enacted Department’s 12 hour work shifts which has resulted in overtime being lower.

            Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

            Park District: No report.      

            Water Department:  No report.       

Reports of Committees of Council:   

            Finance and Audit:   The Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.

Street: The Street Committee met with the Law Director on Monday, April 15.  Issues with Alumni Road and School Road need to be discussed.  A meeting with School Officials was being planned.

Ordinance:  The committee, along with Mr. Stecker, is working on an Ordinance prohibiting businesses from bringing hazardous waste into the city. 

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: No report.

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  The Committee will meet soon to discuss ideas to expand on some of the summer events planned in the city, i.e. Fourth of July Celebration, Betty Zane Days, etc. 

Real Estate/Utility:  No report.

Income Tax: No report.

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

Robert Reed, 701 S. Lincoln Ave., Bridgeport, Ohio, conveyed appreciation to the Administration for the improvements to Water Department.  He expressed his thoughts on the recent flooding on 1st Street of the city, specifically surrounding the Austin Masters Plant which contains hazardous waste.  He asks that Council and the City Administration send a letter to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and ask for assistance to clean up the toxic material at the Austin Masters Plant.    

Before Ms. Reed spoke, President Davis explained the rights of citizens to speak and asked for new information only regarding the Austin Masters Issue.

Beverly Reed, Bridgeport, Ohio, distributed an article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette regarding the Austin Masters issues.  Mr. Sutak said he will send a copy of this article to ODNR.  Ms. Reed asked the city to tell ODNR that the city doesn’t want another facility like this again and the Austin Masters facility needs cleaned up.  The City has tried to contact the ODNR and the EPA at ask how this situation got overlooked but no response has been received.  The Mayor said today was the deadline for the waste material to be removed from the Plant.  If the waste is not removed, Austin Masters is in violation of the court order and fines will begin to accrue.  Ms. Reed believes the company will file for bankruptcy.  If the company does file for bankruptcy, ODNR will be responsible for cleanup.  The drainage and flow of water, when the river floods, was discussed.  President Davis said Council will write a letter to ODNR asking for help in the waste cleanup of the Austin Masters Plant.  Mr. Sutak asked Belmont County Commissioner Jerry Echemann (who was in the audience) if the Commissioners could write a letter to ODNR to support Martins Ferry in the clean-up effort of Austin Masters.  The Commissioner’s letter, along with tonight’s meeting minutes and the city’s letter, as well as letters from other towns and villages in the area, will be bundled together and sent to ODNR.  Ms. Reed said the Concerned Ohio River Residents (CORR) have already sent a very comprehensive letter to ODNR which she is willing to share with the city administration.  The Peace Township Trustees have already sent a letter.  Ms. Reed suggested once this package of letters is sent, to contact the media and make it public.  Mr. Sutak hopes that representatives from ODNR, the EPA and the Attorney General’s Office could come to Martins Ferry and meet face-to-face to discuss this situation. 

Jennifer Compston-Strough, Managing Editor of The Times Leader, Martins Ferry, stated the Pittsburgh Post Gazette gave her permission to re-print the Austin Masters Article.  If anyone needs access to the article in an electronic format, they can go to and share the link.

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, asked for an updates on Columbia Gas activities and road striping.  The Mayor said the Gas Company is working on Delia Avenue and crews were out striping the streets today.  Mr. Hord inquired about the building that currently houses the Ceramic Shop across the street from the city building.  The Mayor said he owns the building and he has no plans to have tenants again but he is looking into an historical grant to bring the building back to its original state.  Mr. Hord asked when all the waste is removed from the Austin Masters building, will it have to be demolished?  Mr. Sutak said the first big step is to remove the waste and he is certain there is policies and guidelines that have to be met to reopen the building for other operations. 

Jerry Echemann, Belmont County Commissioner, 427 Elm Street, asked for a copy of the letter the city plans to send to ODNR so the Commissioners could consider writing a similar letter.  He also wanted to know who was responsible for the upkeep of Aetna Street.  He was told it is Bridgeport’s responsibility. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            Mr. Hunker made a motion to waive the 72 hour rule for reading the Resolution.  Mr. Rodgers seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion carried.   This Resolution was given a first reading.

A Resolution Declaring It Necessary To Levy A Tax In Excess Of The 10 Mill Limitation And To Renew A 3.0 Mill EMS Levy For Five Years And Declaring An Emergency. 

            This Resolution will go to a second reading.

Rev. Agnew made a motion to suspend the 72 hour rule for reading the Ordinance.  Mr. Echemann seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, and Rodgers voting yes.  The motion carried.   This Ordinance was given a first reading.

            An Ordinance Increasing The Hourly Wage For Certain Part-Time Positions In The EMS Department.

            This Ordinance will go to a Second Reading






Miscellaneous Business:   

The Mayor reported the Broadway property (the former Booster Club property) has sold for the asking price. The buyer is going to do the survey and Mr. Stecker will get the deed prepared. 

The Mayor recommends the city purchase a new tractor for the Cemetery with an estimated cost of $20,000.  This issue will be discussed at the Finance Committee Meeting. 

The live streaming of the Council Meetings are being recorded and saved on U-Tube.  Recorded meetings can be found on the U-Tube channel entitled “The City of Martins Ferry”.  Unfortunately the volume needs to be a little louder.  Mr. Echemann will follow-up with the IT Company that installed the system and see if the volume can be adjusted.

Mr. Echemann made a motion to excuse Mr. Neiman from tonight’s meeting.  Rev. Agnew seconded.  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 Rev. Agnew.   After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.  

Both President Davis and Mr. Sutak received calls from companies regarding energy aggregation.  Council will need to take action soon if this issue is to be on the ballot in November.  Mr. Sutak will email information to council members to consider at the next meeting.  President Davis suggested maybe having a public meeting to discuss the matter. 

Council received an email from a citizen inquiring about the requirements for electric bicycles, scooters and helmet requirements.  President Davis stated there is an Ordinance that addresses this issue but it needs reviewed and updated since electric bicycles were not popular at that time.  This issue was referred to the Ordinance Committee. 

Mr. Hunker made a motion to go into Executive Session under the Ohio Revised Code G121.22, G3, regarding the subject of pending or imminent court action.  Mr. Echemann seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion carried.   

Mr. Schramm made a motion to go out of Executive Session.  Mr. Rodgers seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers and Agnew voting yes.  The motion carried and Council went back into regular session.   

             Mr. Hunker moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mrs. Armstrong.  A roll call vote was heard with Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Agnew and Schramm voting yes.  The motion carried.  The meeting was then adjourned with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

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