Follansbee council talks finances, police

FOLLANSBEE – On Monday Follansbee Council discussed ways to generate more funds for a city police officer, street paving, the removal of dilapidated structures and other needs.

First Ward Councilman Vito “Skip” Cutrone said he has found a few ways, from hiring a computer troubleshooter closer to the area to raising the city’s garbage fee, to generate funds for those purposes.

He and 2nd Ward Councilman Dave Secrist have been pushing for the hiring of another full-time police officer for the city in recent months. But other council members have said they tabled filling a vacancy in the department because of concerns about a decline in tax revenue.

On Monday Cutrone suggested raising the monthly garbage collection fee of $6.50 to $10.50, in two $2 increments over the next few years, for residents, and to $16.50 for businesses. He said residents in unincorporated areas near Follansbee pay $14.50 per month to a private garbage hauler.

Secrist said he believes residents will support the increase if it’s earmarked for street paving.

Council heard from residents requesting both the police hire and street paving.

Resident Pam Ewusiak was among residents on hand to encourage the police hiring, saying she believes more police coverage is needed to keep the city safe.

And resident Sanna Breton of Neville Street said the street and its curbs and sidewalks are in great need of paving or repair.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said part-time officers have been employed to fill the void in the police department. But he added, “We would like to have the flexibility of having another full-time officer.”

Secrist noted the part-time officers are employed by other law enforcement agencies and must put their full-time employment before their fill-in stints with the city. He said the addition of a sixth officer also would allow the city to schedule two officers for more shifts.

Council is expected to consider the hiring at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 21. Council normally meets on the first and second Monday of each month, but next Monday is Columbus Day.

Velegol told Breton he is forming a beatification committee to identify areas, such as sidewalks and curbs, that need improvement.

In related business, 5th Ward Councilman Tom Ludewig, who chairs the building enforcement committee, said the removal of dilapidated structures is another area where the city will need funds.

He said crews soon will remove three structures on Neville Street and another on Clifton but will need about $24,000 for the planned removal of the former Lantz Dairy on Allegheny Street and a house at 914 Walnut St. and still more funds for about five homes the city is expected to condemn.

In other business:

City Manager John DeStefano said water leaking from a water line on Gilbert Avenue is being piped into a sewer while crews attempt to find the source. He noted the steady flow of water there has caused a slick moss to form on the pavement.

Joy Crawford, executive director of the Brooke County Senior Center, asked council to consider leasing to the center the city parking lot behind it.

Crawford said the lot is occupied by several vehicles used for center services, such as delivering meals to shut-ins or transporting seniors to medical appointments, which leaves fewer spaces for seniors visiting the center.

In addition, center employees have been encouraged to keep those spaces open by parking away from the lot and along the street, which has resulted in conflicts with residents there.

Velegol said he will meet with Crawford at the site to investigate the problem.

Alina Hopkins, an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America working with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, asked city officials for help in identifying a city problem middle school pupils with the After-School Adventures Program can help to solve using math or science.

Hopkins said the project is part of a contest through which the pupils may be awarded a $25,000 grant to carry out their solution as well as scholarships for themselves. She was accompanied by Hunter Smith, a co-captain for the effort.

DeStefano announced the city’s fall cleanup will be held Oct. 28-Nov.1. Residents may leave out bulky items on the days their garbage is normally collected. The city won’t accept construction materials, oil, paints, tires, batteries, televisions or computers. For information, call (304) 527-1330.

Also announced were trick or treat hours: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31.

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