Belmont County Is Facing Lawsuit Over 911 Termination

Robyn Marshall of Barnesville has retained a Columbus legal firm to represent her in filing a suit against the Belmont County commissioners over her termination as director of the 911 system.

Attorney Christina L. Corl of the firm of Crabbe, Brown & James, claims Marshall “was wrongfully terminated” and alleges the action was taken “in retaliation for her prior complaints and because of her gender. We will be proceeding with legal action against the county.”

In an email to me outlining her decision to file the suit, Corl claims, “There is simply no valid explanation for the termination of my client, especially since she was directed by an attorney for the county to issue the reprimand.” She did not identify the attorney by name.

“The only explanation,” Corl continued, “is that there is an ulterior motive for her termination. First, she was the only female department head in the entire county. Second, she had complained to Human Resources in the past regarding a hostile work environment and discrimination. We believe her termination is actually in retaliation for her prior complaints and because of her gender.”

Marshall’s only comment in regard to retaining counsel for a lawsuit and that the reprimand she issued was very brief. “I just told her don’t do it again.”

Corl claims in her outline of the events leading up to her client’s termination was that before any action was taken, Marshall “had a conversation with an attorney for Belmont County who told her to issue the AWOL dispatcher a verbal warning. After she administered the verbal reprimand to the dispatcher who left her post in the middle of her shift without telling anyone, my client received an email from the director of Human Resources for the county directing her not to issue the verbal reprimand. My client informed the director the reprimand had already been issued and, thereafter, my client was terminated without any explanation.”

The Belmont County commissioners held executive sessions with their Columbus attorney Mark Lucas and county Human Resources director Christine Palmer to discuss the Marshall case, including a lengthy one a week ago Friday that lasted much of the day and reportedly ended close to 5 p.m. when the termination notice was finally issued.

Corl noted further in her review of the case that, “We have been informed that the six paramedics who allowed the dispatcher to ride in the ambulance to the hospital (with the injured child) have been disciplined by the fire chief for allowing an unauthorized person to ride in the ambulance. No action has been taken against the fire chief for issuing the discipline.”

The Columbus attorney said her firm “will be proceeding with legal action against the county. My client was faithfully doing her job to protect the citizens of Belmont County and to ensure that the 911 center was properly staffed to handle emergencies called in to 911.”

In its Jan. 21 issue, Time Magazine makes a brief mention of the alleged rape case in Jefferson County that has been carried in newspapers across the country as well as being aired on numerous television and radio news reports and talk shows.

On a page headlined as “Briefing” is a quote from Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla explaining why he didn’t arrest the teens who appeared in a video laughing about the alleged rape in Steubenville.

In large type is the quote: “It’s stupidity. But you can’t arrest somebody for being stupid.” A head and shoulders photo of the Abdalla, with a newspaper headline of “Rape” in the background, appears in a montage of photos of President Obama, Gabrielle Giffords, Robert Griffin III and Syrian president Bashar Assad, all of whom had timely quotes also on the page.

A Belmont County employee is doing her part to battle the flu epidemic that has spread all over the country. Beth Vincenzo takes about 15 minutes each day for a cleansing project to eliminate the contagion that might be lurking in her courthouse office.

I walked into her office in the county engineer’s department late Wednesday afternoon and found her busily wiping off desks and all other fixtures. In answer to my curiosity, she explained her concern over the spread of the flu and she was using a disinfectant to cleanse the desks, keyboards and computer monitors, filing cabinets, map racks and everything else.

“I have people coming in here coughing and hacking. At the end of the day I get a cloth, dampen it with Clorox white and wipe off everything to get rid of germs if there are any,” Vincenzo explained.

Her office is where the deeds and maps for every piece of property in Belmont County are on file and those records are handled and used by dozens of people each and every day. “At the end of the day – usually about 15 minutes – I take the time to wipe everything so that it will be clean to start the next day.”

It’s a wise and healthful project for which she deserves a round of applause.

More than a half century of service for a dedicated political veteran as well as a devoted and courteous private citizen, has come to an end for Thomas Costine of St. Clairsville – but not by choice.

“My doctor told me I had to make up my mind about taking a special medical treatment I needed, and I’d better do it real quick.” So Costine quit the last of a half dozen jobs he has held in his lifetime to heed his doctor’s orders.

It was a decision the former Richland Township trustee avoided as long as possible. “I had to start on kidney dialysis. If it wasn’t for that I’d still be greeting and helping customers at Wal Mart,” Costine confided. He started those dialysis treatments two weeks ago, just a few days after some of his fellow employees at the Ohio Valley Plaza store threw a going away party for him.

Looking back on his career, Costine remarked with a chuckle, “I have been around.” He ended his political career on Dec. 31, 2011 when his retirement as Richland Township trustee became effective. It was a position he held for 37 years. Because of his popularity with voters, he was asked many times to run for commissioner or some other county position but he declined. Although Belmont County was a Democrat Party stronghold during those years, Costine was one Republican who always was re-elected.

His first venture into the political field came during the 1960s, when he served as a Republican precinct committeeman from Richland Township. Then in 1973 he threw his hat into the race for Richland Township trustee and he held that position for almost four decades.

Those weren’t consecutive years because during the tenure of Gov. George Voinovich, Costine was appointed director of the Ohio Department of Transportation county headquarters in Morristown. He held that position for five years.

Gasoline was selling for under $1 a gallon during Costine’s first business venture as the operator of a service station in East Richland. From there he assumed a similar job with a station on Ohio 149, the Belmont-Morristown Road. It was from that position that Costine was summoned to be the head man at the highway garage in Morristown.

What he has cherished more than anything has been personal contacts. “I have met many people over the years and I consider them all friends,” Costine mused. “One thing I found out is that people in public life and those in political life are quite nice. I’ll miss seeing so many of them.”

And there’s no doubt he’ll be missed from his station at Wal Mart where he had served as a customer greeter for 15 years.