Follansbee discusses damaged pump station

FOLLANSBEE – A pump station severely damaged by vandals and hazards created by water flowing from a vacant house were among issues discussed by City Council Monday.

City Manager John DeStefano told council members next week he will ask them to consider providing funds for repairs to a pump station off Randall Avenue on Hooverson Heights.

DeStefano said about $150,000 will be needed to reverse damages caused by vandals on July 13 or 14. He said the city’s sewer board has filed an insurance claim for the damages but so far has been approved for only half the cost.

Though council can’t approve the expenditure until next week’s meeting, members voiced support for it, noting it’s necessary to keep the station compliant with state regulations.

DeStefano said emergency repairs were made soon after the vandalism to keep the station running.

Asked about tightening security around the station, he said it is in a wooded area frequented all-terrain vehicles riders. The station is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, but the vandals used cinder blocks and blankets to climb over it, he said.

The blocks also were used to damage the equipment, he said, and beer bottles were found in the vicinity.

DeStefano said video cameras have been posted in the area since and Brooke County sheriff’s deputies have been asked to watch activity near the area, which is outside the city.

Council also heard from Mitch Grishkevich, a resident of Gilbert Avenue, who complained about water running down the sidewalk and street in front of his home.

Grishkevich said he can’t safely cross the water’s path and he can’t invite visitors to his home.

DeStefano said the source of the water is believed to be under a vacant house nearby. He said city crews have dug around the house but were unable to find a leaking line.

Though council members reported seeing people entering and leaving the house, DeStefano said an Evansville, Ind., bank foreclosed on its previous owner and is its present owner.

He said he’s been in touch with an attorney representing the bank in an effort to gain access to it, shut off the water there and further investigate.

DeStefano confirmed Grishkevich has been offered salt to thaw the water when it freezes near his house.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. told Grishkevich, “We need to fix it for you and be done.”

In other business:

City Police Chief John Schwertfeger said next week he will ask council to support expending $6,860 to switch to the computer incident records system used by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and other local law enforcement agencies.

Schwertfeger said the switch will allow City Police access to information collected by the other law enforcement agencies and ease his department’s ability to report criminal incidents to a statewide police database.

Resident Clarence Mossor complained of having difficulty turning onto state Route 2 from the Orchard area and crossing the street to reach James Funeral Home. He suggested establishing a cross walk to the funeral home.

City officials said a crosswalk must be authorized by the state Division of Highways, but they would look into it.

Velegol announced the city’s Christmas Light Up Night will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Ray Stoaks Plaza outside the City Building. There will be an appearance by Santa Claus, music provided by disc jockeys and refreshments.

Velegol said a drawing for a University of Notre Dame football helmet signed by Lou Holtz raised $4,000 for the Follansbee Community Days Committee. The winner was Mike Bine of Follansbee.

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