OVRTA Is Questioned

Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell said the Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority continues to run buses to The Highlands outside the city of Wheeling, and because of that, he thinks the Ohio County Commission should contribute to OVRTA operations.

Longwell also questions whether OVRTA really needs Benwood to pass a 15 percent bus levy to continue services to the city.

Benwood City Council met in special session Monday night to hear the first reading of an ordinance to put a 5 percent bus levy on the ballot in Benwood for the Nov. 4 general election. Council is scheduled to next meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 for final reading of the measure, and vote on passage.

“My understanding is that (OVRTA) are still running buses to The Highlands, which is way outside the Wheeling city limits,” Longwell said. “And the commission is not paying the fees. The city of Benwood has a population of 1,400, and last year gave $124,000 (to OVRTA). Surely the commission can kick in something.”

Longwell said the city does want bus service from OVRTA, and isn’t opposed to paying for it.

Wheeling, Benwood, McMechen and Moundsville comprise OVRTA’s service area, and OVRTA asked each city early this year to put before voters a 15 percent bus levy to cover the cost of their bus service. The existing bus levies in each city expire after June 30, 2015.

In another matter, Longwell addressed the issue of a weapon belonging to one of his officers being used during a domestic incident in Wheeling on Friday. Ashley Thomas, 31, 149 Edgewood St., is charged with domestic assault in that incident, in which she allegedly used her husband’s gun to fire at least one shot.

“Outside agencies are investigating,” Longwell said. “It was declared it was the officer’s wife whose actions caused the incident, and she has been charged – the officer has not. However, there was a special policy put in force for this circumstance only that the officer is not permitted to take his duty weapon home. It is being kept here at the office and locked in a box until this is adjudicate.”

Council also voted to hire a new police officer. Terry Weyand of Tiltonsville will be paid $18.25 an hour as a member of the Benwood Police Department.