MF council thanks police, community

MARTINS FERRY – City council reviewed and facilitated several ongoing projects during Wednesday’s regular meeting.

Thanks went to all who participated in the recent Pitch-in Day, which included a semi-trailer that hauled away old tires for recycling. Between 550 and 600 tires had been collected during a period of years. Thanks went to the Lions Club and other volunteers. Four picnic tables were donated by a resident.

Council approved the appropriation of $10,000 from the permanent improvement fund to address storm sewer issues. A similar action had been taken last year. Council appropriated $5,000 from travel and training and $5,000 from auxiliary, all from the police budget. Thanks went to the police department, noting that this was the second such occurrence this year. Mayor’s Court has seen heavy use thanks to the officers’ diligent patrols.

Council appropriated up to $10,000 from the permanent improvement fund for storm sewer issues this year.

Council appropriated up to $7,000 for the purchase of valves for replacement on Clinton and Catawba streets. Council also appropriated $11,000 for repairs of an electric cable.

Service Director Chuck Bennett Jr. reported progress on maintaining the cemetery and cutting weeds on Route 7 and other sites.

Asphalt patching should resume today, with potholes and water breaks to be addressed. Also, 100 feet of a culvert must be replaced on Crawford Heights after a collapse.

Bennett also addressed prior questions of utility bills. He noted when water meters were originally installed and lowered the minimum rate from $30 to $18. When that cut occurred, it affected 1,500 people who utilize the minimum. The reduction by $12 each was a monthly loss of $18,000 to the city, and the increases on some of the individuals above the minimum did not entirely differentiate that amount. For the total of the year, the city lost about $216,000.

Furthermore, the loss of Wheeling Steel compounded that for a total of about $360,000 less.

In response, the city has taken measures including cutting costs and changing suppliers.

In other matters, council took a voice vote for cemetery capital project. Whatever money put in the project would have to be used in a 10-year period for projects with a lifespan of more than five years. An ordinance will be pending.

Council Member Robert Duncan inquired about dissolving the parking meter fund and creating a line item within the fund. The auditor said any such line item had to be used for duties related to the parking meters. Mayor Paul Riethmiller said he was concerned that should layoffs become necessary a law enforcement officer could be among them.

Regarding the park district, the pool is operation and thanks went to donors who provided $25 hundred for chemicals.

The city will consider whether to use the Ohio Revised Code’s ordinance against texting and driving or the city ordinance.

Tentative dates were set for town hall meetings with the area’s representatives. Rep. Jack Cera may be available July 25, 5:30 p.m., with July 18 as a backup. Sen. Lou Gentile will be available Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m.

A budget hearing is set for July 2, 5:30 p.m. with the budget to be passed at the 6 p.m. council.

A finance committee meeting will be held today at 5 p.m.

DeFrank can be reached at