Brief City Meeting Offers No Answers

MARTINS FERRY — A five-minute meeting of Martins Ferry City Council on Thursday failed to provide residents the answers they were seeking about a looming strike in multiple city departments.

Many of the city’s high-ranking officials were seen in the hallway of the city building before the meeting convened, but Mayor Les Douglas, Economic Development Director Stanley Stein, Auditor Rita Randall and Service and Safety Director Ben West were absent from the session.

Dozens of residents packed the council chamber and said they were upset nothing was done or said about the status of negotiations between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1260. Talks reportedly were held throughout the day Thursday, starting about 10 a.m.

John Suriano, Local 1260 president, said union members and city officials still were negotiating late Thursday following the council meeting.

AFSCME represents 49 employees of the sanitation, water, street and sewer departments and the utility office, as well as municipal office secretaries, police dispatchers and employees of the auditor’s office in Martins Ferry.

Suriano said workers are expected to walk off the job on Monday. City employees have been working without a contract since May

Many people at the council meeting said they wanted answers or at least the opportunity to present questions to officials who did not attend.

Councilman Doug Longenette also was absent.

During the five-minute meeting Councilman Jack Regis informed council the emergency medical service is in need of a new transport vehicle.

”They need it to transport people to the doctors and Cleveland Clinic and such,” he said. ”It’s for transport only, and the one they were looking at cost $62,021.”

A resolution regarding the vehicle will be brought to the next meeting, but fire Chief Ed Duke informed council the department has the necessary funds in its budget.

The next meeting of the Martins Ferry Council will be held on November 13 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.