Council may toss forum restriction

Barilla conducts first council meeting as Steubenville’s new mayor

LAST-MINUTE ADVICE — Former Mayor Domenick Mucci, left, offered a few words of advice to incoming Mayor Jerry Barilla Tuesday night prior to the first City Council meeting of 2018. Barilla later publicly thanked Mucci for his help during the transition period. Mucci was mayor for 25 years before deciding not to seek re-election. -- Dave Gossett

STEUBENVILLE — City Council will reconsider an ordinance that requires anyone who wants to speak during the public forum part of the weekly council meetings to register four days in advance.

The pre-meeting registration was passed by a four to three margin in late November and officially took effect Tuesday night.

Fourth Ward Councilman Scott Dressel introduced legislation Tuesday night to repeal the registration requirement and later indicated there are now four council members opposed to the rule.

Second Ward Councilman Craig Petrella took office Monday and told the Herald-Star he was in favor of repealing the ordinance.

First Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto announced he will be scheduling a series of public meetings to discuss the current condition of the city’s water and sewage infrastructure.

“We are going to take a long and hard look at our water and sewer problems. I plan to set up a meeting every other week. The public is invited to attend these meetings and will be allowed to speak. But, I am hoping for answers. We have 1,000 vacant homes in this city. There are three properties on state Route 7 that no longer purchase water from the city, including the former Weirton Steel plant, the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plant and the old paper mill,” said DiLoreto.

“We are being hammered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about making improvements. I see smaller communities throughout Jefferson County receiving financial assistance to upgrade their systems, but we can’t get any help. We are going to have to make some hard decisions,” he added.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said he will prepare documentation noting the number of water line breaks in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as the breaks that have occurred during the current cold weather.

“And, I encourage homeowners to make sure the water lines in their houses are properly insulated to avoid breaks. Our water line repair crew is working 18 to 24 hours a day to get these breaks fixed,” cited Mavromatis.

In other business Mayor Jerry Barilla’s suggested new council committee members for the next two years were unanimously accepted by council members.

And, council approved Barilla’s first appointments of his term with Paul Brandt and Gary Hallock being named to the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County board of trustees.

Council members approved three ordinances Tuesday night.

The first was legislation authorizing the city to apply for and accept a grant from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

Additional legislation approved following a third reading included an ordinance declaring several buildings to be unsafe structures and public nuisances.

Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi will now advertise for bids for the demolition of properties at 1107 Cardinal St., 1126 and 1205 Claire Ave., 409 1/2 Henry Ave., 1424 Orchard St., 113 Brondos Ave., 637-639 Lincoln Ave., 831 Lincoln Ave., 1207 Lincoln Ave., 990-992 McKinley Ave., 1375 Tweed Ave., 516-516 1/2 and 518 Maxwell Ave. and 1213-1215 and 1217 Adams St.

An ordinance authorizing the payment of expenditures without a purchase order for more than $3,000 was approved.

Barilla started his first City Council meeting with a prayer by the Rev. Vaughn Foster and the called for council members and the audience to treat each other with respect and civility.

“I look forward to working with the council, the city manager, law director and council clerk,” stated Barilla.

His first council meeting lasted approximately 20 minutes.