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Steubenville Leaders Discuss Next Steps Following Club 106 Shooting

After four people were shot at Club 106, 6th Ward Councilman Michael Hernon, during Wednesday’s Steubenville City Council meeting, called for a “more permanent solution” than just prosecuting those responsible.

“I know we’ve taken steps in the past,” Hernon told City Manager Jim Mavromatis and Law Director Costa Mastros. “I want to see if we can put some more energy into seeing how we can make it safer for our citizens.”

The four — a pair of city residents, a man from Pittsburgh and another from Chicago — were injured after gunfire erupted inside the club, then spilled over onto the sidewalk outside. Police Chief Bill McCafferty said surveillance video showed “a lot” of the bar’s patrons had guns and described the scene inside the club as “utter chaos.”

Second Ward Councilman Tracy McManamon said he would “stress the importance” of resolving the problem the club poses to the community, once and for all.

“And (the) sooner the better,” he said. “This is a continuing nightmare. I think our citizens are pretty much fed up with it.”

Hernon said there’s “a need for us to recognize this as an issue that’s persistent and continuing.”

“In light of (what happened at Club 106) and the conversation we had (earlier) about nuisance abatement and criminal activities … are there strategies we can employ or should employ for the safety of our citizens?” Hernon asked the city manager and law director. “I know some of the things are limited … but tell us where you think this can go.”

Mavromatis said the detective division is still sifting through all of that video.

“(They’re) working diligently on this, going through the tapes trying to put the pieces together, identify people, and they will be (meeting with) the county prosecutor on possible charges,” he told council. “As far as that establishment goes, there are several options we’re going to look at. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Council had spent an hour prior to the council meeting discussing problem properties and the tools the city already has at its disposal, like nuisance abatement and administrative warrants, to address them. That discussion, though, had focused on unkempt properties, with Municipal Judge John Mascio telling them new laws aren’t the answer.

“Every single law you need you already have,” Mascio had said. “You just need to pull out the city code, the Ohio Revised Code and the property maintenance code.”

First Ward Councilwoman Asantewa Anyabwile, chair of council’s pride committee, showed council slides of property maintenance issues ranging from lots overgrown with grass and weeds to vacant houses filled with trash and debris, and said city-owned lots are some of the most flagrant eyesores.

“How can we hold city residents accountable … if city also has lots that look like (that)?” Anyabwile said.

“I think it’s pretty evident how we can get it done,” 3rd Ward Councilman Eric Timmons replied. “We say we want all of those lots cleaned, that’s going to take some money. I guess that’s just a direction council is going to have to decide if that’s the way it wants to go. I mean, how big a priority is it?”

Fourth Councilman Royal Mayo said it’s a question of fairness. “We can’t send our code enforcement officer out to tell people to keep their grass at a certain level when (the city doesn’t),” he said.

Hernon said city officials need to “take a sober assessment of how much we have and what we need … and how do we mow it” and, when it makes sense, find out if neighboring property owners are interested in acquiring the parcels.

“I’m not talking about parks here, I’m talking about empty vacant lots” for which the city has no use, he said. “It’s costing us money right now to own these.”

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