Service much appreciated

Change can be a good thing, and fresh ideas might make Steubenville take some new directions in the future.

But that’s not to let 6th Ward Councilman David “Pokey” Lalich leave after 16 years without thanks for his service.

Lalich has been an advocate and student of infrastructure, especially the water system, since before he took office, showing up at public meetings and asking questions 16 years ago.

He has long pushed for doing something that may make residents upset, but which is necessary in a community with a century-old water system: Increase rates to begin setting aside money for capital improvements.

He noted that while he won’t be in office for the final water increase vote, he plans to attend the meeting.

Lalich also was instrumental in the preservation and renovation of the Market Street Bridge, advocating work to keep it open and viable instead of shutting it down, no easy fete for an Ohio councilman on a West Virginia-owned bridge.

He also was an active member of the Pittsburgh to Columbus corridor group that was advocating for completion of highways to make a full four-lane expressway alternative to the Interstate system connecting the two cities – using U.S. Route 22 as part of the corridor.

With Lalich’s departure comes his replacement, retired city police officer Robert Villamagna. He is no stranger to government, no stranger to making tough decisions, and those who know Villamagna know he speaks his mind without fear of where the words fall.

He would have assumed office in January, so we believe council was correct in placing him in the seat before Lalich’s term would have ended at the end of the year, allowing Villamagna to be a part of the year-end decisions that are to come, including the water rates.

With the departure of Lalich and the upcoming retirement of 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins, who is being replaced by Mike Johnson, the legislative experience level of council will change.

The issues won’t, and the work will have fresh sets of eyes looking for solutions.