Council Approves New Sign Purchase

The Benwood City Building is getting a new outdoor message board that displays time and temperature, but it comes with a price tag of nearly $30,000.

City council voted 4-1 Tuesday to purchase the sign from Alladin Signs of Wellsburg for a cost of $27,496. Voting in favor were council members Lori Longwell, Larry Ferrera III, Carl Richter and Chuck Terry, while Walter Yates voted no and Robert Rose abstained. Council members John Kazemka and Curtis Mele were not present.

Police Chief Frank Longwell said the city received no bids for the sign, which will measure 29 inches wide by 64 inches high and be mounted on a pedestal in front of the building. He said city officials were surprised by the cost, but checked and found it to be comparable with what was charged for a larger sign in Glen Dale at about $60,000 and a smaller one at Wheeling Hospital for $20,000.

He said the city has about $15,000 remaining from a state Local Economic Development Grant that can be applied to the cost, with the city paying for the remaining $12,000.

“Stuff is not that cheap,” Longwell said. “We’re not in the 1930s anymore.”

Meanwhile, Yates said he received an unsigned letter from a resident who thinks buying the sign is “ridiculous.”

“It would look good,” Terry said. “Maybe Benwood is just not used to that.”

Council also passed a motion to put on the May 13 primary election ballot a 5-percent increase to Benwood’s bus levy. The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority had requested a 15 percent increase, but council members believed that amount to be too high.

City Solicitor Eric Gordon said the city typically pays about $100,000 annually to OVRTA, and a 15 percent increase – after figuring the additional increase in local property values – would bring the city’s cost to about $132,000 a year.

Mayor Ed Kuca also asked for and received council’s approval to do research into the past mayors of Benwood. His interest in Benwood’s history was recently stirred after receiving a letter from Jane Walsh, the great-great-granddaughter of Benwood’s first mayor, James L. Brown, requesting more information about her relative. Brown served as Benwood’s mayor from 1882 through 1889.

Kuca has received a photo of Brown from Walsh, and he is now seeking photos of other past mayors to hang in the city building. There have been 14 mayors in Benwood.