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Family donates money for new city police dog

STEUBENVILLE – A Steubenville family has stepped up to help fill a void in the city’s police department left by the death of K-9 Bono two months ago.

While City Council had already set aside money to purchase a police dog this year, at Tuesday’s meeting 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna announced the Teramana family has donated the money for a second canine officer.

“They bought the last one (Bono),” he said, adding, “This family has always stepped up to do things for the city without being asked, they’ve always been there for us. We’re going to end up with two dogs through their generosity.”

Last year alone, Bono and his handler, Sgt. Rob Cook, were called to assist other agencies, including the U.S. Marshal Service, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Jefferson County Special Response Team, as well as local departments, about 206 times through November. Department statistics credited him with around 579 calls resulting in roughly 220 drug seizures, 160 drug paraphernalia seizures and 20 firearm seizures. Bono also appeared at 24 public relations events at local schools and various organizations in the first 11 months of 2020.

“There definitely is a need,” Villamagna said. “A canine is one of the greatest assets to a police force. That canine will put his life on the line many times in its career, searching for lost children, weapons, drugs. They can see and smell things (people) can’t. They will give their life without hesitation to save an officer.”

In other matters, council agreed to test drive a proposal to treat leachate from APEX landfill, voting 6-0, with one abstention, to the 180-day trial.

Law Director Costa Mastros said the city had treated APEX leachates about seven years ago with no problems, explaining it “goes through, is treated and disposed of as we do with our other wastewater.”

“They have to collect it and dispose of it – we have the ability to do that,” Mastros said, adding he worked with City Manager Jim Mavromatis and Utilities Director Chuck Muprhy to prepare the agreement after APEX approached them over the holidays.

“They will pay us,” he said, also noting state environmental officials had “strongly encouraged” the city to assist APEX.

“It will be a revenue stream for us, we don’t know yet how much of one,” he added. “(But) whatever revenue it does generate will be good for us.”

Abstaining due to a conflict of interest was 2nd Ward Councilman Craig Petrella, who is employed at APEX.

After the meeting, Petrella said at this point, they don’t know how much leachate would be treated but pointed out that under the terms of the agreement, “We’re confined to our new (disposal area).”

Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn said Parks and Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf had been notified Beatty Park has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio for picnic tables and benches on the trails.

Hahn said the award can be applied to the $50,000 local match that will be required for another, larger grant they’ve applied for, as can a $20,000 grant from the Mary Jane Brooks Charitable Trust.

“Through those two things and donations people can make to the fund (and) the city’s contribution, we should be right around the $50,000,” she said. “It’s very, very encouraging.”

Petrella said he wanted to “commend City Manager Jim Mavromatis, department heads and city workers for acting responsibly and holding costs down” during a very challenging 2020, but said the time has come for them to address Steubenville’s problem properties.

“We did change a couple ordinances, one of them was our weeds and litter ordinance,” he reminded council. “It’s January now, we’ve approved the budget and Table of Organization, added a couple extra people to the payroll. While we have some down time, I’d like to try to see what we can do with what I call ‘troubled lots.’ We have one at State and Cedar, another off Oak Grove. The one on State hasn’t been cut in over four years, more like five or six years. Mrs. Hahn has been commenting on Oak Grove, and each and every one of us has a problem area in our ward with weeds and litter. We need to talk to the judge, figure out a way we can get these troubled lots identified and start working on them now, before the growing season starts. We’ll be better off in 2021 if we can discuss issues other than weeds and litter.”

At 4th Ward Councilman Scott Dressel’s request, council scheduled a service committee meeting prior to the Jan. 12 meeting to discuss plans to revert to the traditional spring/fall cleanups and water issues. Council also agreed to 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul’s request for a safety committee meeting to discuss the need for additional personnel so the fire department can field a full crew for a second ambulance and Murphy’s request to add a non-union employee in the Utility Department so he can begin training someone to take over for him. Second Ward Councilman Eric Timmons said he’d also like to discuss the need to hire a city animal control officer.

The committee meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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