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Grass-cutting ordinance introduced before Steubenville City Council

STEUBENVILLE — Council will be asked next week to consider legislation that would make it easier for the city to force property owners to cut their grass.

Second Ward Councilman Craig Petrella introduced legislation Tuesday that would extend the enforcement period, which currently begins April 1. Petrella has proposed removing the date.

“I think it’s a start,” he said later. “But, just like with anything else, as we go through this, if there’s items pertaining to certain items, I think we need to address them … we need to keep adjusting the ordinance to fit the situation we’re in.”

He also told council the weeds rule isn’t the only one they need to be thinking about.

“The health department doesn’t handle certain issues … bedbugs and things like that,” he said. “We need to look at that. If it’s outside the realm of this legislative body, who do we go to? The health board? The county commission?

“There has to be a solution to the problem for our citizens,” Petrella added. “We can’t continue to exist the way it is today. We’ve been proactive right along, we’ve attacked the water issue … we’ve done a lot of good for our citizens. We can’t let them down now and drop the ball. If there’s a problem, there’s got to be a solution to it and if it’s not us, we’ve got to find the responsible party and hold them accountable.”

Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna previously told council that in April, the city’s weed and litter enforcement officer had investigated 117 weed complaints and 130 litter complaints, issuing 175 notices of property code violations. Since 2008, he added, 1,930 violation notices have been issued.

First reading of the weed enforcement amendment will be Sept. 22.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul, meanwhile, also sunshined emergency legislation authorizing the city manager to spend another $242,000 in federal CARES Act funds to purchase and equip a third ambulance, as well as three Lucas devices. Lucas devices are chest compression machines, and Paul said they’d like to have one on each ambulance.

Paul said the third ambulance will be a back up — they’ll use it when one of the others is in for servicing, or they have a special event, say a football game that requires an ambulance presence.

“It needs to be passed (as an) ’emergency’ because we have to have the money appropriated by Oct. 15 for the CARES Act, and spend it by Dec. 31. To do that, we need to have it as an emergency.”

Paul said the ambulance would cost about $105,000, with equipment totaling around $72,000. The chest compressors would tally around $64,000.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said the city recently got another $350,000 in CARES Act funding. Because of restrictions on how the money can be spent, he said he’s more than happy to earmark the funds for a third ambulance.

“We’re trying not to do this with a levy,” Paul said. “This money kind of fell into our laps.”

Mavromatis stressed they’re going to cooperate to get anything done.

“We’re all going to work together on this, no one person has control of this,” he said. “We’re going to have to work together as a team to accomplish this.”

Paul also reminded council the first budget hearing will be Sept. 22, starting at 6 p.m.

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