Pleasant Heights station closes

STEUBENVILLE – The Pleasant Heights fire station was set to be closed this morning, two months after City Council members agreed it should remain open.

City Manager Cathy Davison announced the closing of the fire station and the layoff of the two youngest firefighters during her administrative report at the Tuesday night City Council meeting.

Davison said the two firefighters will be issued 14-day layoff notices during their shifts today and Thursday.

The closing of the fire station was agreed to during an executive City Council meeting Monday night called to discuss the mandated recall of five laid-off firefighters.

Davison said the action announced Tuesday night “is in light of the city’s financial conditions.”

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf and fire Chief Carlo Capaldi held private talks in March regarding the Pleasant Heights fire station that was set to be closed in order to save money.

City officials an-nounced at a March 26 council meeting the station would remain open but five firefighters would be laid off.

“I am looking at the safety factor on the hilltops and I want to stay within the budget. I would also like to avoid moving the security cameras at the fire station that are used by the police,” noted Metcalf at the March council meeting.

But the five firefighters appealed their layoffs arguing a 14-day lay-off notice had not been provided to them.

The city’s Civil Service Commission ruled in favor of the firefighters two weeks ago, citing a factfinder’s report issued by attorney Joe Corabi.

Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich announced council will meet in executive session at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss personnel.

Lalich invited Mayor Domenick Mucci and Law Director S. Gary Repella to join council members for the closed-door session.

In other matters, council learned Tuesday night that repairs have been made to nonworking business and residential water meters.

“It took us four to six weeks to obtain the replacement parts. It involved replacing the head of the water meters. Neptune trained our meter repairmen last Friday and they have replaced the faulty meter heads and sent the nonworking parts back to Neptune for repair. We will now have a spare meter for each size we use in the city,” reported Finance Director Alyssa Kerker.

During the regular council meeting, Police Sgt. Joe Buchmelter and Patrolman Shawn Scott representing the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 received a standing ovation when they accepted a resolution proclaiming Friday as Peace Officers Memorial Day.

“In 2012 we saw 120 police officers killed in the line of duty. So far this year 41 police officers have died while performing their jobs. And just 17 days ago two City Police officers were shot at while responding to an armed robbery. By the grace of God no one was killed or injured. When we put on these uniforms we hug and kiss our loved ones. We accept the risks of the job because we love our jobs,” said Buchmelter.

In other business, council approved a change in the city’s table of organization to officially recall the five laid-off firefighters.

And, council voted unanimously to oppose a request from the Ohio Department of Liquor Control for a transfer exempt permit application for an economic development project from Joe Wayne Bush in Middletown to the University Boulevard Express.

Davison recommended and council accepted the 2013 city street paving program be awarded to Shelly and Sands of Rayland for $338,856.05.

Council also accepted Davison’s recommended bid award to Environmental Management Specialists of Groveport for the creation of two wetlands at the city’s former landfill for $474,265.29.

Davison said the project is slated to be completed in August ahead of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s October deadline.

Also, council agreed to award a bid for the Belleview Park security lighting project to the John Russell Construction Co. of Steubenville for a base bid of $123,622.

Alternate park lighting projects to be paid for with Community Development Block Grant funds include the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, the MLK basketball court, Murphy’s Park on Pleasant Heights and the North End Park.

Councilman at large Kenny Davis announced Tuesday night tickets for a chance to win a new car are now available as part of the Save Our Pool campaign.

“I am 95 percent positive we will open the Belleview Pool this summer,” Davis said.

He also said applications for lifeguard and cashier positions at the pool will be available at the MLK Recreation Center.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs reminded residents she is looking for city residents interested in serving on the city’s beautification committee.

And 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto thanked Brian Young, Joe Marracino and Bob Baird for organizing city employees for a cleanup of Beatty Park.

“I also want to thank Mike Florak from Franciscan University of Steubenville for bringing university students to the park for the cleanup,” said DiLoreto.

A council finance committee is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to review budget issues.