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Mingo Council updated by police chief, pool manager

IN THE CHAMBERS — Mingo Junction, meeting on its once-per-month summer schedule, held its July meeting Tuesday, getting updates on the police department and the pool among other topics. -- Andrew Grimm

MINGO JUNCTION — Mingo Junction Police Chief Willie McKenzie updated Village Council Tuesday night with some statistics for the first half of the year.

McKenzie, during his report, said the village’s police department has responded to more than 1,500 calls so far this year. Of those calls, the department has made 57 arrests in 2021, with 13 of those as felony arrests, he said.

McKenzie said the department has responded to 29 domestic calls and five reports of shots fired, while conducting 156 traffic stops, resulting in 41 citations.

There were nine breaking-and-entering calls, five burglaries, 67 juvenile calls and 36 thefts, he said.

The chief also said the village is still looking to hire three police officers, noting some candidates who were being looked at did not work out.

He said he has reached out to the commanders at Youngstown and Kent State to spread the word the department is looking.

He said the department also went through training both on the use of Narcan and hand-to-hand self-defense techniques recently.

“It was great training for our jobs,” he said.

Mayor Ed Fithen extended thanks to neighboring departments who have been working well with and assisting the village department when needed, a point that McKenzie also made.

“The surrounding agencies have been a lot of help,” McKenzie said.

Karen Lloyd, manager of the village pool, updated council on how things are going this summer season, and had a request to change the pool’s hours.

Lloyd said it’s the time of year where some of the younger employees at the pool — life guards and concession workers — start to leave for college.

She said in August the pool will be down to four life guards and four concession workers.

That, coupled with Lloyd saying the pool, currently open noon until 6 p.m., has become busier later in the afternoons and is not busy the first couple of hours following the morning senior swims, led to her proposing opening the pool from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. instead.

She did note the pool has a decent amount of pool parties scheduled in the coming month.

During his report, Fire Chief Brandon Montgomery asked council to create a committee to explore purchasing a new ambulance for the department.

He said one of the village’s two ambulances is currently in the garage, and the department is currently borrowing one from Steubenville.

Montgomery said the wait time for a new ambulance is more than a year, so the need to get the process started is pressing.

He also told council his department participated in a joint training on Monday, using some new tools recently purchased by council.

During his report, village Administrator Bob Smith said the village received recreation funds for the pool from Jefferson County and patching work around the village is ongoing.

Also among the topics he discussed was that interviews are being or have been conducted in regard to open positions at the village garage.

Councilwoman Jodilynn Fitzegerald asked Smith about the situation with a paving project on county Road 30, to which he replied he was “not going to address that at this time.”

One of several public participants, Marty Sohovich, also brought up concerns about the paving project near Hills Elementary School.

During recent Jefferson County Commissioners meetings, the county engineer’s office got approval to pave a portion of the road that lies within the village.

County Engineer Jim Branagan told the commissioners on July 1 there was an original agreement for the county to pave the portion of the road while it was already completing work on other portions of the road not in the village, and the village to fund the portion of the project, roughly $25,000, but the village did not have the funds.

He sought the approval for the county to pave the road because of the condition of the roads and its proximity to the school, he said at the time.

An ordinance to pay Smith a one-time bonus for work done on recent projects was given its third reading and passed, but not unanimously.

Fitzgerald, citing concerns about setting a precedent and budget reasons, voted against the measure.

Council also held multiple executive sessions with Montgomery and other individuals from the fire department regarding personnel matters.

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