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Mingo Mayor concerned about staffing

MINGO JUNCTION — Though he acknowledged there wasn’t an easy fix or a clear answer to the problem, Mingo Junction Mayor Ed Fithen voiced his concerns over the village’s police department’s difficulty finding new officers and the village’s ability to keep employees.

“If we don’t take care of (village employees), we’re going to lose them all,” the mayor said.

He broached the subject when speaking about the police department, noting an officer is leaving the village department to join the police force of a neighboring municipality in the near future and that the department, which has been advertising for multiple positions for a while, has only received one applicant.

“They’re putting their lives on the line every day,” Fithen said of police officers and fire fighters.

His concerns go beyond just the police force, though, as an opening in the fire department was also discussed, as was the service department’s difficulty finding a qualified mechanic for the village garage at the rate of pay being offered.

Fithen also cited concerns about the current officers being overworked and pointed out that he had a discussion with another local police chief and the trouble finding officers is not just isolated to Mingo Junction.

“It’s probably not going to get any better in this day and age,” he said.

The mayor also offered praise to both Police Chief Willie McKenzie and Fire Chief Brandon Montgomery, stating, “I would put our chiefs up against anybody.”

Fithen, while calling on council to think of ways to address the concerns, acknowledged the village’s finances do play a big role.

“I know we don’t have money, but we have to do something,” he said, later adding “I understand the finances are tough.”

Councilman Jack Brettell also pointed out that in terms of wages for police officers, a new contract was reached with their union recently and won’t be up for negotiation again for another three years.

Village Administrator Bob Smith, during his report, offered praise to the service department employees in the village, a sentiment that was echoed by the mayor.

“They do a great job for four or five people,” Smith said.

Councilwoman Pat Cramblet told Smith that a resident asked her to compliment the department for work they did near her home.

Smith also updated council on the paving work that has gone on in the village, saying he continues to negotiate to save the village as much as possible.

He also commended the fire department for the work it is doing citing property owners for property maintenance violations.

“The fire department is doing a very good job,” he said.

During public participation, a resident said he had addressed issues with a building he owned that had been cited by the fire department.

“That is all we ask,” the mayor said of him addressing the issues.

The man asked for and was told he would receive a letter stating the violations were addressed.

Council also passed two resolutions to remember past contributors to the village, extending sympathy to the families of former village auditor Richard “Dick” Crugnale and former councilman Joseph Mannarino, both of whom died in September.

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