Follansbee talks summer events

FOLLANSBEE – Like the turning of calendar pages and arrival of warmer weather, topics discussed at Monday’s Follansbee Council meeting were another sign of the change in seasons.

Council agreed to provide $13,000 for fireworks to be launched on the last day of the three-day Follansbee Community Days festival. Zambelli Fireworks of New Castle, Pa. will supply the pyrotechnics.

The move was supported by 1st Ward Councilman Vito “Skip” Cutrone, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro, 4th Ward Councilwoman Iris Ferrell, 5th Ward Councilman Tom Ludewig and Councilman at large Domenic Micucci.

It was opposed by 2nd Ward Councilman Dave Secrist, who said he’s not opposed to the festival or fireworks. Secrist said he believed when he and other council members agreed to match up to $25,000 raised by the Follansbee Community Days’ committee, the funds would be in the volunteer group’s hands.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. said while the group hasn’t raised that amount, it has secured verbal commitments from several businesses that have contributed in the past and expects to raise about $46,000 through them, a $7,800 state grant, booth fees and admission to the Community Days dinner.

In related business, Velegol announced former Notre Dame University football coach Lou Holtz will serve as guest speaker for the dinner, which will be held June 26 at St. Francis Centre. Velegol said Holtz lived in Follansbee as a boy and has maintained ties with the city.

Ticket information for the dinner will be announced in the near future.

Council also granted a request from Dave Browning, president of the Follansbee Baseball Association; for the extension of a water line to the pony league ball field behind the Rite Aid store, lumber for batting cages to be built there, two portable restrooms and infield mix.

Browning said the water line and a flush hydrant there will enable volunteers to properly water the field.

The total cost for the measures is about $2,200.

Browning said the group hopes to secure donations for a storage shed at the site.

Ferrell asked if the city should invest in improvements for the field when the city hopes to establish new ball fields at a proposed athletic complex near Highland Hills on the city’s north end.

The $10 million project, which also would include a new field for the city’s youth football field, isn’t fully funded.

Browning and others said with the exception of the water line, additions could be relocated if needed.

He said the group also hopes to secure donations for a shed to store equipment near the field.

The baseball association received a boost recently through the donation by Elite Oilfield Services of Waynesburg, Pa. of a new tractor to mow the field and others west of state Route 2.

In other business, council tabled the hiring of park personnel until it can be determined whether it will be operating the concession stand that serves Follansbee Park and the city’s swimming pool.

City Manager John DeStefano said he’s received no proposals for the stand after advertising for an independent contractor to operate it from May 24 to Sept. 1.

Council agreed to accept proposals, through the city manager’s office, for two more weeks.

DeStefano said the vendor will rent the stand at a monthly or seasonal rate and will be required to provide their own equipment with the exception of an ansul system.

He said if an independent contractor isn’t found, the city will need to purchase equipment and supplies for the stand as well as hire staff for it.

Also on Monday, council:

Approved the second reading of an ordinance increasing the city’s garbage rate by $4 for residents and $10 for businesses. The increase for residents will occur in two $2 increments over the next two years, while the increase for businesses will be in two $5 increments.

Set to go into effect on May 1, they are expected to generate about $70,000 for the city, offsetting a $130,000 loss it assumes for providing the service.

A public hearing was held on the increases but no comment was received.

Approved the expenditures of about $4,100 for a steel door, two wood doors and window frames for the Follansbee City Building and about $2,200 for a large sign to be posted above its front entrance.

DeStefano said the sign will be done by Aladdin Signs of Beech Bottom in the style of the welcome sign at the city’s north end.

In related business, council authorized DeStefano to seek estimates for new plumbing for the building in phases. He also has made plans to seek estimates for electrical rewiring for it.

Council had mulled major renovations to the building but tabled them, citing this year’s budget cuts.

But last week Cutrone suggested council consider constructing a new city building at the site of the former 5 and 10 Store and adjacent lots that may be for sale.

The proposal wasn’t revisited Monday, but Cutrone asked Santoro to apologize for accusing him of contacting other council members before the meeting to influence their votes.

Cutrone said he called two other council members to seek their opinions. He said he planned not to suggest the move if there wasn’t sufficient interest.

Santoro said she wouldn’t apologize. She said contacting the other council members wasn’t appropriate because with his vote, the votes of the two other council members constitutes a majority for the five-member board.

Velegol and Council proclaimed May 1 through June 7 Relay for Life Days at the request of Secrist, who also is chairman of the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life, which will be held June 7 at Follansbee Middle School.

Council has agreed to place purple ribbons and flags along Main Street to promote the event. Residents and businesses are invited to decorate their homes or buildings in purple also.

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