Bellaire Leaders Still Considering Cuts to Balance Budget

BELLAIRE — In an effort to find savings in the cash-strapped village, Bellaire leaders could decide to dissolve their police force in hopes the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department can lead the way.

Mayor Vincent DiFabrizio and Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas have said the village could save about $220,000 by dissolving its police force, but Bellaire officer Hank Martin had other ideas when speaking during the Thursday village council meeting.

“We’ve got some bad issues. … We get rid of 15-20 percent of the undesirables, 30-35 percent of the quality of life goes up in this town. … We’re fighting a war with these drug people. Heroin and crack cocaine are polluting our community. We’ve got to help ourselves. Now is the time to stand up and be counted,” Martin said with a raised voice, with residents applauding.

“We have to fight our own battles. The best person to take care of you is you.”

DiFabrizio emphasized this idea was only “up for discussion” and he was just “fact-finding” to see what he could do to save the village money. He also said no jobs would be lost, and the current city police station would serve as a satellite office for the sheriff’s department.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Mike Kovalyk gave updates on two significant cases the police department has been involved in lately. In a West Bellaire murder case, David Kinney was arraigned Thursday on one count of murder and another count of aggravated murder, due to “something that came up in the grand jury.”

The other case, a shooting at 4157 Noble St., is still under investigation.

“There are multiple individuals involved and we are still receiving information. We thank the citizens of Bellaire for giving us information on this case. We rely on the citizens to help us,” Kovalyk said. “We recovered drugs from the scene and the scene is near a learning center, which should increase the charge of drug trafficking. We are communicating with the Wheeling police, who are looking into a shooting that may be related. If anyone in Bellaire or Wheeling thinks they have anything relevant to this case, by all means give us a call and we’ll check it out. We hope to rid that area of illegal activity.”

Additionally, there were two arrests Thursday following a burglary in the 3300 block of Franklin Street. One of the suspects arrested in that burglary admitted he was responsible for a series of car break-ins on the 4400 block of Franklin Street, and is now in jail on those charges.

The other burglary suspect led Bellaire, Shadyside and Bridgeport police on a “foot chase.” According to Kovalyk, the suspect was in possession of stolen property from the Franklin Street address.

Kovalyk encouraged residents to keep their doors locked on their houses and cars at all times, and to record serial numbers of valuable items.

In another matter Thursday, council passed an emergency ordinance to enter into a cooperative agreement for planning of the Water Plant Modernization Project of Bellaire with the Ohio Water Development Authority at a cost of $285,178.

The village has already begun engineering and planning for phase one of the project, and will obtain a loan from the OWDA to finance the planning phase.

The measure, passed unanimously, will authorize DiFabrizio to apply for and enter into the agreement with OWDA.