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No official date set for reopening of city building

WEIRTON — Officials say the Weirton Municipal Building could reopen to the public sometime in the coming weeks, although a definitive date has not be agreed to.

The topic was raised during Monday’s meeting of Weirton Council, with Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh telling City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo he has received questions from numerous residents with concerns over obtaining building permits and utility bill issues.

DiBartolomeo said he has been looking at a possible reopening sometime in early May, although he didn’t want to commit to a specific timeline just yet.

“We know it’s got to open up,” DiBartolomeo said

The city manager noted reported increases in cases of COVID-19 as among his reasons for not having a final decision, as well as the fact the Capitol Building in Charleston remained mostly closed to the public during the recent session of the state Legislature.

DiBartolomeo also said some city employees are a little wary of the potential to spread COVID-19 when the building reopens.

“Some of the employees are a little squeamish,” he said.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ county alert system map, as of Friday morning, Brooke County, with a population of 21,939, had an infection rate of 24.09 and a percent positivity of 4.70. Hancock County, with a 28,810 population, had an infection rate of 14.38 and a percent positivity of 3.60.

Rates had increased through the week, with Brooke County showing a 6.51 infection rate and 1.61 percent positivity on Monday, and Hancock County with a 10.41 infection rate and a 2.50 percent positivity.

The DHHR indicated there were 37 active cases of COVID-19 in Brooke County and 29 active cases in Hancock County as of Friday morning.

Monday wasn’t the first time the issue has been raised by a member of council. During the regular Weirton Council meeting in March, Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone also stated she had received questions from constituents.

The Weirton Municipal Building has been closed to the public since March 13, 2020. The public has been allowed access for attendance to government meetings and municipal court; however, other services, such as payment of utility bills, business licenses, fines or obtaining records have been processed either online, by telephone or through a drop box located behind the building.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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