City of Martins Ferry

Martins Ferry City Council Meeting Minutes of June 5, 2024

Posted on: July 1, 2024

The Martins Ferry City Council met in Regular Session on Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at 6:00 p.m., at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center.  The meeting was called to order by Council President Pro-Tempore Rick Rodgers 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; Ben Neiman, James Agnew and Jim Schramm, Council at Large Members.   Mr. Rodgers reserved his right to vote.           

            Minutes:  Minutes of the May 15, 2024 Council Meeting were approved as written.  

Correspondence:  There was no correspondence. 

Reports of Officers of the City:

Mayor:  The Administration is working on changing the zones on the Source Water Protection Plan which will put more restraint on what companies can reside on First Street. After Council approves an ordinance regarding this plan, the city will consult with the EPA to strengthen any wording.  Once the plan is in effect, it should help with the Austin Masters situation.  No updates from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have been received. 

The cemetery is looking great and crews have been patching potholes.  The swimming pool is open and attendance has been good. 

Pictures, showing damage in the city park, were distributed.  The Mayor suggested creating an ordinance banning anyone 16 years old and under from the Park after 6:00 p.m.  Before 6:00 p.m., lifeguards can see any problems in the Park and notify the Police.  Mrs. Armstrong asked Chief Murphy if the cameras in the Park could identify any of the people responsible for the damages.  The perpetrators are not all from the city, making identification difficult.  Mr. Rodgers asked Rev. Agnew to schedule an Ordinance Meeting to address the damages to the Park and the electric bicycle issues.  Regarding an Ordinance on electric bikes, Mrs. Armstrong asked for recommendations from the Police Department.

There have been multiple issues with the gas scooters and electric bikes on the city streets.  Riders are not stopping at stop signs or following traffic rules.  Persons of any age are permitted to operate these vehicles.  The Mayor asked Council to create an ordinance outlining regulations for motorized bikes and scooters.  Chief Murphy said his department is working on putting together these guidelines. 

The Mayor asked Council to authorize up to $7,500 from the General Fund to help cover the cost of the fireworks for the July 6 Celebration.  He is hoping donations will be received to offset some of the $7,500 cost. 

Service/Safety Director:  The pool is open and the new pump is working well.  Mr. Sutak updated Council on the Water Plant upgrades.  On Memorial Day, there was a major water break and the whole city was out of water.  Mayor Davies and Mr. Sutak met with the Engineers yesterday to discuss installing a separate water line which would enable almost 75% of the town to still have water if there would be another major water break.  Mr. Rodgers was contacted by several people saying how thankful they were that the water department employees worked so quickly to fix the water break last month.  He asked The Times Leader representative to convey that sentiment in her news article. 

Force Main Project – In order to move the large bore into the new sewer system underneath the railroad tracks, the Railroad Company has to provide flaggers but they haven’t yet confirmed that they will supply flaggers.  Without flaggers, the large bore is not allowed to be moved.  The city’s Engineer is contacting the company that is doing the project and the Railroad Company to resolve the problem.  It is hoped the project will be finished in two weeks.

Mr. Sutak has identified several dilapidated houses in the city that needed torn down.  He has contacted the Land Bank and Bel-A-Mar to see if funding might be available for demolition. 

Update on Sale of the 1200 North 9th Street Property – The Mayor said an Ordinance has to be passed by Council before the property can be advertised for bid. 

Update On The Rate Adjustment For The High Rise Apartments In Town – Mr. Sutak said that a letter is being sent to Metropolitan Housing to let them know the city is going to re-classify the sanitation portion of the bill.  This should become effective in the next billing cycle. 

            Auditor:   Auditor Regis asked Council to make a motion to accept the Statement of Cash Position, the New Hire Report and the Payroll Summary.   He also asked Council to approve an invoice from Erb Electric for $3,034 because it is over the allowable limit which can be paid without Council’s approval.  A Finance Committee Meeting was set for Tuesday, June 11 at 11:00 a.m.

            Law Director:  No report. 

            Police Department:  Chief Murphy gave the end of May Police Department Report which included the results of the vehicle auction.  Grant money amounting to $6,870.50 was received for reimbursement of Laptops.  Canine Patch performed a demonstration for a Girl Scout Troop in Bridgeport.  Mr. Sutak asked for more traffic oversight on State Route 7.

            Fire Department: No report.

Code Administrator: No report.

            Park District: No report.      

            Water Department:  No report.       

Reports of Committees of Council:   

            Finance and Audit:   Mr. Hunker set the next Finance Meeting for Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at 11:00 a.m.   

Street: No report.

Ordinance:  A meeting will be set to discuss an ordinance for electric bikes and the vandalism in the Park.

            Sewer/Sidewalk:  No report.

Code Administration:  No report.

            Safety: Mr. Schramm reported he has notice several Commercial Trucks running the red lights on Rt. 7. 

            Service:  No report.

            Cemetery:  No report.

Public Relations:  The Committee met on May 20, 2024 to discuss further expansion on upcoming summer events.  City Officials and local personalities are being sought to work a VIP Server Table during the June 8 Strawberry Festival.  The Committee learned that the Chamber of Commerce was donating $1,000 and Project Forward was giving $2,000 towards the cost of the July 6th Fireworks display.  Minutes of this meeting will be included with these minutes. 

Real Estate/Utility:  No report.

Income Tax: No report.

Citizens to Be Heard:  Mr. Rodgers reminded citizens to limit their speaking to 5 minutes.  

Larry Perkins, St. Clairsville, speaking for the Ebenezer Zane Chapter, OHSSAR, got permission from Council last Fall to install a sign at the Walnut Grove Cemetery listing historical facts of the Cemetery.  The Ebenezer Zane Chapter would like to publicly dedicate this sign to further educate the citizen on the historical significance of this landmark.  Council set July 6th to have a dedication ceremony.  Mr. Perkins will call the City Building to set up a meeting to discuss the details of the ceremony. 

Kim Train, Martins Ferry, alerted city officials to her neighbor’s house at 812 Jefferson Street where the grass has not been cut.  The Mayor said he would speak to the owner.  The problem of people dumping furniture and mattresses in undesignated spots was discussed. 

Richard Hord, 915 Virginia Street, complimented the Water Department and all those involved in getting the water break on Memorial Day fixed quickly.  He informed Council that Author Don Iannone, a native of Martins Ferry, would be discussing his new book on June 8 at the Library.  Monetary help for the Historical Society will have to be addressed by the Finance Committee.  There has been no discussion on striping the streets of the city.  The building owned by Keith Sommers has been sold and the former PNC Bank Building is still for sale. 

Beverly Reed, Bridgeport, Ohio, shared inspection reports and pictures from ODNR of the Austin Masters Facility and the flooding that occurred in April.  Council was asked to sign a petition to send to ODNR asking that there be no permit transfers of the Austin Master Property, no future processing of toxic oil and gas waste in the area and immediate clean-up with environmental testing and monitoring.  The petition will also be available for citizens to sign at the Concerned Ohio River Residents booth at the Strawberry Festival. 

Rob Reed, Bridgeport, Ohio, asked what type of Filtration System is being installed at the Water Plant.  The Mayor explained the system the city uses removes the calcium, iron and magnesium from the water.  Mr. Sutak said when all the improvements are finished, the city will see a better quality of water. 

Ordinances and Resolutions:  

            There was no legislation to be read.   






Miscellaneous Business:   

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion to allot $7,500 from the General Fund for the July 6th Celebration.  Rev. Agnew seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, and Echemann voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mr. Schramm made a motion to pay the invoice from Erb Electric for $3,034 (water works well repairs).  Mr. Echemann seconded the motion.  A roll call vote was heard with Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman and Agnew voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Since June 19th is a National Holiday, Mr. Neiman made a motion and Mr. Schramm seconded to change the next Council Meeting to Wednesday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center.   A roll call vote was heard with Neiman, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, Echemann, Armstrong and Rodgers voting yes.  The motion carried. 

Mrs. Armstrong made a motion and Rev. Agnew seconded to accept the Statement of Cash Position, the New Hire Report and the Payroll Summary.  A roll call vote was heard with Armstrong, Rodgers, Neiman, Agnew, Schramm, Hunker, and Echemann 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. Hunker.   After an affirmative voice vote, the motion passed.    

             Mr. Echemann moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Mrs. Armstrong.  After an affirmative voice vote, the meeting was adjourned at 7:01 p.m. with a salute to the flag.

            The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center.    

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