Martins Ferry demolition continuing

MARTINS FERRY – City council opened 2013 by addressing continued matters of infrastructure maintenance and demolition of unmaintained properties.

Mayor Paul Riethmiller noted that the city would hold an annual town hall meeting Jan. 30, 6 p.m., at the Veterans Memorial Center. The meeting will include all council members, administration and the fire department, which celebrated 125 years of service to the city.

Code Administrator Betty Suto reported six demolitions completed during 2012. Bids will be going out in January to Moving Ohio Forward for the next round. Structures to be demolished include 912 Jefferson St., 609 1/2 Mackey Ave., 449 N. Zane Highway, 600 Ohio Ave., 535 N. 7th St., 1832 Colerain Pike, and 815 Washington St.

A total of 127 enforcement letters have also been sent. Also, 16 convictions were made in mayor’s court and nine in Northern Division Court. Also, costs and prices for city-maintained properties have been adjusted for present rates. The city maintains more than 50 properties.

Service Director Charles Bennett reported the employees have been called out on 10 separate occasions for snow and ice since the last meeting. Work continues with the goal of getting rid of remaining snow piles and opening the roads in the cemetery.

He noted that early last year he had asked for $10,000 from permanent improvement fund to complete several projects, including a collapsed drains and walls, eroding creek walls, a collapsed line, and other drainage issues have all been completed with $200 to return to council. He requested a similar sum to address further issues.

Council congratulated Bennett and service employees for their efforts to address these issues at minimal cost.

Bennett also requested a meeting Jan. 7 to discuss the $60,000 deficit in the water department. He added that an increase in water rates may be necessary, considering that the city will need to replace the filter beds again in 10 years and nothing has yet been set aside. They must also deal with regular issues such as old linage issues and valve replacements. He noted that the last increase was March 2009. The rate had been $30 per 3,000 gallons and has been lowered to $18. Bennett noted it may have to be raised to $21.

Safety Director William Suto reported that the Suriano shortcut has been made a one-way street coming downhill. He reported continuing training for police and EMS members and requested $10,000 for new gear for the fire department.

Council approved cost allocations for 2013.

A finance and audit meeting was set for Jan. 14, 5:30 p.m.

Council held the second reading of an ordinance to solicit bids for replacement and reprogramming and service and water department radios for narrow band operation.

The street committee will schedule a meeting to examine funding sources for street repairs. Wards were asked to name streets currently most in need of work.

Developmental meetings will be held the third Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m. to work on a five-year plan.

Council authorized the fire department’s use of the city park Aug. 4-11 for Betty Zane Days, Aug. 6-10. Fire Chief Jack Regis also reported a need for new fire alarm system for the stations.

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