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Follansbee residents urged to keep things neat

HONORED FOR SERVICE — City officials recognized Art Branch for his many years of service as a city employee and volunteer firefighter during Tuesday’s Follansbee Council meeting. With Branch, third from left, were: Street Superintendent Steve Meca, Mayor David Velegol Jr. and City Fire Chief Larry Rea. -- Warren Scott

FOLLANSBEE — Complaints of loose trash and high grass were discussed at Tuesday’s Follansbee Council meeting.

The discussion arose from a blanket complaint covering several issues voiced by 1st Ward Councilwoman Tammy Johnson.

Johnson expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of Rose Alley, 1st Ward Playground, nonworking or questionable fire hydrants and dilapidated structures as well as high grass and loose trash.

“Nothing’s changed. It still looks the same as it did a year ago,” she said.

Street Superintendent Steve Meca told Johnson potholes in the alley will be addressed soon and he’s purchased paint and other materials for the playground.

Meca said the playground’s restrooms have been vandalized repeatedly. He said while the police department once locked them at night, he’s resorted to keeping them locked through the day.

Councilman at large John Casinelli, who chairs the city’s building enforcement committee, said the group has targeted at least one dilapidated structure in the ward

He encouraged her to submit others for the panel’s consideration.

But the problem of loose trash was one other city officials and residents in attendance seized on.

A resident said a neighbor puts trash out in open boxes days before pickup, which attracts vermin while others said they have observed non-residents leaving their trash alongside residents’.

City Police Chief Larry Rea said there is an ordinance requiring residents to put their trash in a covered container while another limits the time in which they may put it out for pickup.

He noted those who violate the ordinances and others aimed at maintaining a sanitary and wholesome environment may be fined up to $500 for each offense.

It was noted the city’s sanitation workers may leave any trash that’s not properly contained but that could only exacerbate the eyesore and health hazard presented by it.

Rea offered to meet with council members to discuss problem areas.

City Police Capt. Rick Reinard and City Manager Jack McIntosh suggested limited manpower is a contributing factor.

Reinard said addressing crime must remain the city police’s top priority, while McIntosh noted the city’s street department has dropped from nine or 10 employees to four.

In recent months summer help has been working to cut tall grass and perform similar tasks.

Also on Tuesday:

— Reinard announced the police department has been approved for the Governor’s Highway Safety program, through which it may be reimbursed for up to $1,000 in overtime worked by an officer charged with seeking violations involving driving under the influence, distracted driving, speeding and lack of seat belt use.

He said the reimbursement will be available until Oct. 1, when another $1,000 will be available.

— Velegol and McIntosh responded to complaints about the temperature of the city’s swimming pool. Velegol said for a time city staff had dispensed with heating the pool to save money, adding the cost had been estimated at $40,000 per season.

But McIntosh said this year the pool has been heated in the morning so its more shallow areas are 80 degrees but not through the day.

In related business, City Clerk David Kurcina said he will ask council to approve a day on which dogs may swim in the pool after it has closed for the season on Aug. 13.

— Velegol recognized Art Branch for his nearly 25 years of employment with the city and many years as a volunteer firefighter. He noted Follansbee native Victor Ceglie Jr., a battalion fire chief in Washington, has counted Branch among his influences while serving in the Follansbee Fire Department years ago.

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