Follansbee fills vacant seat on council

FOLLANSBEE – A long-time Follansbee resident and member of the city’s water board was selected to fill the city’s council at large seat, and the upcoming city elections were a recurring subject at Follansbee City Council’s meeting Monday.

Dominick Micucci of Robin Hood Lane, in the city’s 5th Ward, was selected from eight applicants for the council seat, which became vacant when Jim Andreozzi resigned to serve as Brooke County commissioner.

A retired Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel employee, Micucci has lived in Follansbee for 42 years and has served on its water board for three years.

Miccuci said he applied because “I’m retired and I just thought I could give some input and help the city grow.”

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said it was difficult for council to choose from the eight applicants, who he said were “all excellent candidates. I think everybody was overwhelmed by the response.”

The other seven applicants were: Denise Arthurs of Gilbert Avenue, John Casinelli of Virginia Avenue, Charles “Chuck” Cline of Highland Hills Drive, Vito “Skip” Cutrone of Rose Street, Kevin Diserio of Donegal Drive West, Jim Mirasola of Shady Lane and Art Quattrocchi of Mahan Avenue.

City Manager John DeStefano said, “It was refreshing to have eight people expressing interest in a position. We sometimes don’t have that many running for office (in an election).”

DeStefano noted the applicants included residents of all five city wards.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Iris Ferrell encouraged the other applicants to offer input to council.

In related business, the city will accept letters from 5th Ward residents interested in filling Micucci’s water board seat. DeStefano noted Micucci will continue to serve on the board as councilman at large.

Micucci was appointed to serve the remaining six months of Andreozzi’s term. The city’s upcoming elections will determine who fills the seat beginning July 1.

City Clerk David Kurcina announced the primary election will be held April 2 and the general election on June 11. He added the filing period for candidates is Jan. 14 through 26. Certificates of announcement may be obtained at the Follansbee City Building from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The offices of mayor, city attorney, city clerk, police chief and all six council seats will be on the ballot. The filing fee for all offices is $20.

Kurcina said Follansbee is one of eight cities in West Virginia that holds a primary election and questioned if council wished to drop it in the next election year.

City Attorney Michael Gaudio said there are pros and cons to holding a primary election. He noted primary elections serve to eliminate candidates if there are more than two for an office and give candidates an idea how much support they have before going on to the general election.

But he added, “Elections are expensive. There’s no question.”

DeStefano said about $12,600 is budgeted for both elections.

First Ward Councilman Jim Miller suggested terms for city offices could be lengthened from two years to four years and staggered.

Gaudio said such issues could be put on ballots for the public to decide.

In related business, Kurcina said poll workers are needed for the elections and those interested should call (304) 527-1330.

In other business:

Jordan Harlan of Boy Scout Troop 345 presented a proposed Eagle Scout project of building six benches for the city swimming pool. Harlan said the benches would be used by competitors in the Follansbee Swim Team, of which he is a junior coach, as well as the public.

He said he plans to solicit donations for the benches, which have an estimated total cost of $900.

Brian Petrella of the Follansbee Baseball Association asked city officials to make the heights of the pitching mound and home plate at the city’s pony league field to conform with regulations and asked about the status of a proposed city athletic complex.

Petrella said if plans for the complex have been dropped, money received for the project could be used to improve the city’s existing ball fields.

Velegol said grants received for the complex must be used for that purpose, and it’s not a dead project.

Plans call for the estimated $10 million complex to be built near Highland Hills and include new playing fields for the city’s youth baseball and football leagues, which have played on property purchased by the city from Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel for economic development.

As a result of the move, a new, temporary pony league was established behind the Rite Aid store.

Fifth Ward Councilman Tom Ludewig said the Follansbee Community Days Committee seeks groups interested in handling parking for those taking shuttles near Jo-Jon’s to the festival at Follansbee Park.

The groups keep the $3 parking fee charged for each vehicle and will be divided among the festival’s three days or drawn from a hat if a large number express interest, he said.

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