Community Days, projects discussed

FOLLANSBEE – City Council on Monday agreed to provide $25,000 for this year’s Community Days festival and was asked to consider projects for which state funding may be sought.

Fifth Ward Councilman Tom Ludewig, who co-chairs the Community Days committee with Nina Meca, said the group decided to lower its request from $30,000 approved by council last year in light of the current economy.

The city’s allocation accounts for about half of the committee’s budget for entertainment, with the other half to be sought through private contributions.

Council also approved the following 10 musical acts for the festival, which will be held July 10-12 in the Follansbee Community House parking lot by Follansbee Park.

The most famous of the 10 is the Pittsburgh doo wop group, the Marcels, whose 1960s hits include “Blue Moon,” “Heartaches” and “Melancholy Baby.” The others are Refugee, Stevie Breen, the Joseph Sisters, the Big Band Sound of Vince Villanova, Joel Smith, the Driftin’ Hoopie Experience, Shout: Legends of Soul, Legend and Rag Doll, a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute band.

Ludewig said dates and times for the various acts are being finalized.

He noted Don Layburn, entertainment chairman, begins booking groups for the festival early each year.

Ludewig said there also will be performances by local dance studios and Zumba led by Cindy Petri of Cindy’s Fusion Fitness.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. applauded Ludewig for securing a mobile version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for this year’s festival. Like the monument in Washington, the replica bears the names of more than 50,000 service members who were killed in action or missing in action in the Vietnam War.

Ludewig said the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce has agreed to contribute funds for the monument’s visit, and there will be a T-shirt sale and other fundraisers to support it.

In related business, City Police Chief John Schwertfeger asked City Manager John DeStefano to approach the West Virginia Division of Highways about allowing police to alter temporarily a traffic signal at the Follansbee Plaza so they may assist pedestrians in crossing Main Street (state Route 2) to the park.

Schwertfeger said a pedestrian crossing signal there is not long enough for some handicapped pedestrians.

While the committee offered shuttles to the park from various stops along Main Street, there were many who parked and walked to the festival last year, which was the first in which the Community House lot was used for the event.

In other business, DeStefano said an official with MonPower, a First Energy company, has advised him electric lines serving streetlights on both sides of Main Street, from the fire station to Domino’s, are in need of major repairs.

DeStefano said crews were able to make temporary repairs sufficient to power the lighted snowflakes hung from the streetlights at Christmas but more permanent work is needed.

He said the lights have been the city’s responsibility since it received a grant, under former City Manager Ray Stoaks, to install the electrical lines underground, a move made to reduce the impact of hurricanes and storms.

DeStefano said some time ago lines in the 700 block were replaced at a cost of about $10,000, and the city could be faced with replacing lines along six blocks.

He said local representatives to the state Legislature have asked about local projects for which funding may be sought, and that will be one. Others will include new playground equipment for Mahan Playground and repairs to other parks; and repairs for or replacement of an aging water tank on Halls Road.

Also on Monday:

Council appointed Dave Heaton to a seat on the city’s water board representing the 5th Ward. Heaton will serve until Dec. 31, completing the unexpired term of Dominick Micucci, who will continue to serve as the city’s councilman at large. Micucci was appointed to council following the resignation of Jim Andreozzi, who was elected Brooke County commissioner.

Council also reappointed John Bullock, Mark Schwertfeger and Phil Chiodo to the board’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ward seats.

Council observed a moment of silence for John Retton, who died Jan. 26 at age 66. Retton founded the Follansbee Youth Basketball League as well as coached football, baseball and basketball at several area schools.