FOLLANSBEE - City Council on Monday discussed plans to renovate the Follansbee City Building and agreed to seek bids for new doors and radio equipment for the fire department.
City Manager John DeStefano told council he will seek estimates for renovations to the building to determine whether it's more cost-feasible to install new electrical wiring, plumbing and ductwork for the building only or to move forward with plans to gut the building and reconfigure the office space inside.
Also being considered is the addition of an elevator to the second floor, which would allow the city to move some offices into unused space there.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION — Follansbee City Council recognized the Follansbee Middle School Cheerleaders and their coach, Megan Harless, for winning the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference cheering competition’s middle school division. Behind the squad are, from left, City Clerk David Kurcina, Councilwomen Iris Ferrell and Kathy Santoro, Mayor David Velegol Jr., City Manager John DeStefano and Councilmen Jim Andreozzi, Jim Miller and Tom Ludewig.
The floor currently is occupied only by City Attorney Michael Gaudio, who leases the office space there he uses for his private law office. The R.E.A.C.H. Program food pantry, which had occupied part of the floor at no cost, has since moved to the former St. Anthony School.
DeStefano said upgrades to the electrical wiring, plumbing and ductwork are much needed. But he questioned whether it will cost much more for the additional renovations.
City Police Chief John Schwertfeger has said his department lacks space needed for equipment, evidence and records.
DeStefano said the city building has no real lobby and the area where city clerks wait on visitors becomes filled if there are more than two or three people.
The city has been awarded a $190,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the project and hired McKinley and Associates of Wheeling to plan the renovations.
In other business, council agreed to seek bids for the replacement of four garage doors at the city's fire station and for stationary or mobile radios for the fire department.
City Fire Chief Larry Rea, who made both requests, said the doors haven't been replaced in more than 30 years and have fallen into disrepair. He said new doors would cost between $13,000 and $22,000, depending on whether they are steel or aluminum.
Rea said the new radio equipment, which includes 17 portable radios, 12 handheld radios and two radios for the station, is needed to comply with federal regulations calling for emergency departments to switch to narrow band frequencies to reduce congestion in the radio spectrum.
He noted Brooke County emergency officials also will be switching to narrow band. Schwertfeger said his department has used a grant to replace its own radios.
Recognized the Follansbee Middle School Cheerleaders and their coach, Megan Harless, for winning the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference cheering competition's middle school division. The squad, which is comprised of seventh- and eighth-graders, defeated six other area squads for the title.
Its members include Taylor Pannett, Olivia Welch, Markel Sponaugle, Leah Caparros, Lindsey King, Mariah Jeter, Jasmyne Hildreth, Krissa Lusk, Julia Donnell, Nikayla Croce, Kamryn Bedore, Shelby Adams, Abby Ciccolella and Raelee Snyder.
Heard from Mary Schwertfeger, a resident of East Street who said she and her husband, Bill, are very pleased with the new maple trees planted by the city along the street.
City crews and crews with Ianetti's Garden Center of Burgettstown recently planted the 16 trees to replace 10 that were uprooted by strong winds on New Year's Day.
Council approved a bill of $3,510 from Ianetti's for the trees and stakes and mulch for them. Part of the bill will be reimbursed by an insurance claim made by the city.
Normally residents are responsible for trees in front of their homes. But the roots of five of the trees were exposed when city crews removed sidewalks around them as they were preparing to replace the walks.
DeStefano advised council he met with representatives of the state Division of Highways and local state legislators to discuss recurring flooding at Blosser Lane at the request of resident Sharon Kowalik, whose home is flooded when heavy rain occurs.
He said the group is exploring various options, including installing a catch basin to collect debris from the adjacent hillside.