Follansbee OKs pump station, talks water leak

FOLLANSBEE – Follansbee Council on Monday agreed to loan funds to the city’s sewer board to replace a pump station damaged by vandals and discussed efforts to address a water line leak along Gilbert Avenue.

Council agreed to loan up to $65,000 for the pump station, which will replace one in a wooded area off Randall Avenue on Hooverson Heights.

The amount is less than half the estimated cost for the equipment. The sewer board has filed an insurance claim for the rest.

City Manager John DeStefano said damages by vandals to the pump caused it to overflow twice last week, and the city could face fines up to $84,000 from the state Division of Environmental Protection if it fails to correct the problem.

DeStefano said additional fencing and video cameras have been posted near the station to deter future vandalism.

He said when the vandalism occurred around July 13 or 14, the station was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, but the vandals used cinder blocks and blankets to climb over it.

In other business, DeStefano told council city crews will attempt to divert water flowing from beneath a house on Gilbert Avenue onto the sidewalk nearby. He said it would be a temporary solution only, as the water has made its way to several areas.

Council heard last week from resident Mitch Grishkevich, who complained because the water has been freezing on the sidewalk in front of his home.

DeStefano said though people have been seen entering and leaving the house, it is owned by an Evansville, Ind. bank that foreclosed on it, and he’s not received permission to enter it.

First Ward Councilman Vito “Skip” Cutrone and 4th Ward Councilwoman Iris Ferrell said the flowing water creates a safety hazard. Ferrell suggested the city could be held liable.

DeStefano said all sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owners, but he has alerted the Brooke County Health Department in hopes it can take some action.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said the city may pursue some legal action but it could take time.

Second Ward Councilman Dave Secrist said the city should move forward with that in the event it receives no cooperation from the bank.

Council also:

Recognized the Weirton Madonna High School football team for winning the Class A state championship Saturday at Wheeling Park. Mayor David Velegol Jr. said the medals he presented to Coach Doug Taylor and his players depicted a mountain peak because the state title and their 14-0 season record showed their commitment to high achievement.

The Madonna players, several of them Follansbee or Brooke County residents, shook hands with council members as they were called forward.

Was advised by DeStefano that a discarded mattress and inflatable swimming pool are blocking a culvert running from Allegheny Street to Main Street near the city’s fire station. He said the mattress and pool are among illegally dumped trash that has found its way into Allegheny Creek.

DeStefano earlier expressed concerns about a section of the highway between the northeast corner of Main and Allegheny and the firehouse. He and Follansbee Fire Chief Larry Rea said few people know that section was paved over a bridge, and the bridge’s I-beams are deteriorating.

DeStefano said he’s concerned about their ability to withstand the recurring pressure of heavy water trucks traveling from natural gas drilling sites. He said he’s brought concerns about both issues to state officials.

Authorized Follansbee Police Chief John Schwertfeger to advertise for up to five part-time police officers to supplement the police department’s five full-time officers. They will join two part-time officers who were hired earlier.

Learned terms will be up soon for seats representing the city’s 1st and 5th wards on the city’s water board and two community at large seats on the sewer board. Council will either reappoint those who currently hold them or appoint someone new.

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