Martins Ferry City Council Welcomes New Service Director, OKs Spending

Photo by Shelley Hanson Councilwoman Suzanne Armstrong listens Wednesday during the Martins Ferry City Council meeting.

Martins Ferry City Council approved spending and also welcomed the city’s new service director during its regular meeting Wednesday.

In response to a request from police Chief John McFarland, council approved spending $7,800 for five new desktop computers for the police department out of the Permanent Improvement Fund. McFarland said he had been receiving complaints from his officers about the state of the computers, saying his was the newest at 9 years old.

Council also approved spending up to $7,853 for a new air conditioning unit for the EMS building. One of the building’s two units recently broke down. Councilman Tom Burns suggested it would be better to replace than repair, as he said he believed if one part of the unit had gone bad others likely would follow suit soon.

Meanwhile, council welcomed the city’s new service director, Scott Porter. Porter began his duties Aug. 27 and replaces Chris Cleary, who quit in July. Porter previously worked as administrator for the village of Bellaire.

Porter’s position pays about $39,000 per year and is appointed by Mayor Robert Krajnyak. Porter said he has been getting to know everyone and that it was time to get down to work.

“We have a good crew and they’re self-motivated, which is very nice,” Porter said.

On his first day, Porter said he visited employees who were fixing a broken sewer line in the Hillandale area. Councilman Jack Regis Sr. said he wanted to thank the workers for the job they did.

“They did a heck of a job up there,” Regis said.

Porter agreed, saying the workers decided to connect the lines to a main trunk.

“They did a fantastic job,” Porter said.

In other business, Auditor Rita Randall said she was concerned about the city’s sanitation and sewer fund not gaining money as anticipated. She said 3 percent rate hikes were supposed to help increase money for the departments, but it has not garnered as much as anticipated for sanitation.

Randall said she still is not putting money into the sewer capital project fund, but instead is using those dollars to keep the sewer department fund solvent. Council gave her permission to do so for a few months.

“I think even if we continue through the end of the year, sewer may still not make it,” Randall said.

She said the sewer capital fund needs to have enough money to begin making payments on the city’s new sewer vacuum truck next year.

Council did not take any related action, but Randall suggested the issues be discussed during a future finance committee meeting.

Meanwhile, Krajnyak said FEMA is expected to send the city money for work it completed on Bruney’s Alley, which was virtually destroyed by flooding over the winter.

He also said the owners of two blighted properties have given the city permission to raze the houses it had deemed dangerous. Both are on Zane Highway. Council already approved about $17,000 to raze both.

“None of them have decided to turn them over to the city, but they have given permission to tear them down,” he said.

Krajnyak said he also recently compiled a list of alleys that residents have said need to be repaved. He gave the list to Street Superintendent Bob Matz, who will prioritize them for repair.

Meanwhile, he said the fire department has not been able to resell its old fire truck that it retired after buying a new purple one. Money from the sale of the old truck is expected to be used to repay a loan the city made to the fire department, which borrowed money for equipment for the new truck. Krajnyak said the city is going to try and sell the fire engine through the state of Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services website.

Burns said he still is working to find a contractor who can give him an estimate on how much it would cost to fix a retaining wall at Riverview Cemetery. One smaller company referred him to another larger contractor to speak with.

Resident Larry Deaton, who drives school bus for Martins Ferry City Schools, complained about high grass impeding motorists’ view near Hill Street and Ohio 7. He said the grass is going to cause a major accident. Councilman Rick Rodgers said he has complained about high grass in this same area in past years, but was told it was not the city’s responsibility, but the state’s.

Deaton, who also is president of the park board, said the city swimming pool finished in the black this year. He said, however, if an issue with the floor inside pool’s filter house is not fixed soon, it could become so expensive that it could force the closure of the pool next season until it is remedied.

Also, council received its new codified ordinance books. The new books are binders with a hard cover. They cost about $75 each. Some of the old code books could not be found and others had pages missing. The new books were printed by the William H. Drane Co. of Beachwood, Ohio.


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