Businessman asks council for statement

STEUBENVILLE – Local businessman Mark Nelson asked City Council Tuesday night for a public statement regarding Ma’Lik Richmond being allowed to play football for Steubenville High School.

Nelson made his comments during the public forum held at the conclusion of all council meetings. There was no public response from council members.

“I am asking council to draft a statement because the world looks at Steubenville and doesn’t see a public outcry. Some of us are outraged because the school district is not handling the situation properly. The school district lowered the bar to accept someone who committed a crime against a woman. What does this say about the team and its players? This is especially grievous when it makes the national and international news,” Nelson stated.

“The school district decision was not well thought out and I encourage the city to make a statement to the world that we all don’t feel this way,” added Nelson.

“Ma’Lik has done everything the school system has asked and has done everything the juvenile court system has asked and he deserves a second chance,” interim Superintendent Melinda Young said Tuesday morning when asked about the decision to reinstate Richmond to the football team.

Richmond and co-defendent Trent Mays were convicted in juvenile court in March 2013 of raping a female juvenile from Weirton following alcohol-fueled parties that happened in August 2012. Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a Department of Youth Services facility. Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year in a state youth detention center and and was released in January.

Mays and Richmond were classified as Tier II sex offenders, requiring them to report their addresses to the sheriff in the county where they live every six months for 20 years.

Prior to Nelson’s comments, council met for two hours Tuesday night, mainly in a utility committee meeting, to discuss a number of water-related issues, including the installation of commercial and residential water meters.

The city is seeing the commercial meters installed this year with the property owners bearing the expense, and the residential meters are scheduled to be installed in 2015 with the city paying the cost.

Finance Director Stacy Williams said approximately 95 commercial meters still must be installed, but she is confident that project will be completed by the end of the year.

Council also discussed the different sizes of the commercial meters and indicated some businesses may need a smaller meter than they have been using because of a smaller work force.

City Manager Tim Boland said council may want to discuss if the city should continue using the Neptune Technology Group for the city meters.

Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi reported the fire department will start inspecting fire hydrants from Hollywood Boulevard to the west city limits on Sept. 1.

“We have already inspected from the downtown to Hollywood Boulevard and have identified 82 hydrants that need to be replaced or repaired. We will complete the second round of inspections by the end of October,” said Capaldi.

Assistant Water Superintendent Michael Wigal said his department is repairing or replacing 12 hydrants a year.

That prompted a discussion by council members and Boland regarding the possibility of contracting out the hydrant work for safety reasons.

In other business, Williams said the utility collection office is improving the billing and delinquency account collection process and noted a new utility collection office manager will assume her new duties on Aug. 26.

Williams also said the customer relations position is out for internal bid because the current employee retired.

“A billing clerk has also told us she will retire later this month,” said Williams.

Second Ward Councilman Mike Johnson urged the billing clerk position not be filled until a performance audit of the utility departments is completed this year.

Williams also said the current crackdown on illegal water usage has found addresses for 60 vacant houses.

“Three people have been arrested for theft of water and there are several people who have poured cement over their curb boxes to prevent us from shutting their water off. We have also sent certified letters to the serious offenders and notified landlords they should evict tenants who are using water illegally,” said Williams.

“I don’t think the current delinquent water policy is working and I suggest you remove the meters at delinquent customers’ houses and then monitor them,” said Councilman at large Kenny Davis.

During the council sunshine meeting, 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf introduced an ordinance authorizing the engineering design services, right-of-way services, utility relocation and construction bids for the widening of the Lovers Lane and Sunset Boulevard intersection.

That project is slated to start in 2017.

Metcalf also proposed a then-and-now ordinance to allow the city to pay bills for more than $3,000 without a purchase order. That legislation is usually introduced every three months.

And, Metcalf called for a finance committee meeting at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and an economic development committee meeting at 5 p.m. in the Pugliese Conference Room on Aug. 27.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Kirtdoll proposed an ordinance to create a neighborhood commercial district on Sunset Boulevard.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul introduced two ordinances amending the city’s Central Business District parking code.

And, Paul scheduled a safety committee meeting for 6 p.m. on Sept. 2 to discuss the status of the drug dog and the possible re-opening of the Pleasant Heights fire station.

First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto reminded area residents the South End reunion will be held starting at noon Saturday at Beatty Park.

City resident Chris Wickham asked city officials to look at the mud slide on the John Scott Connector hillside. He said the slide is creating a safety hazard on the highway.

And, city resident Helen Freeman asked the city to look at vehicles parked on both sides of the streets in the West End when driveways are available.

Freeman said her job of delivering newspapers is made more difficult by the lack of available parking space.

(Gossett can be contacted at