Bellaire Waterline vandalism a felony

• Police chief not taking utility damage lightly

BELLAIRE — Police Chief Mike Kovalyk told Bellaire Village Council members Thursday night an attempted vandalism of waterlines in the village is being investigated as a “felony” offense.

Village workers on Wednesday discovered 15-20 gallons of a petroleum product were dumped on top of waterlines at an excavation site near the 3000 block of Washington Street. Kovalyk said police have been gathering information regarding the incident, and he encouraged anyone in the community with knowledge of the act to call the police department at 740-676-3322.

“It is a felony investigation,” he said. “The cost of repairing … is well over the felony amount. The disrupting of public service, the interfering with a water source … that is a felony offense. We don’t take that lightly, and we will do whatever we can to see that

whoever is responsible is prosecuted.”

Village Administrator Scott Porter said the oil was dumped over a site where a valve and fire hydrants were being replaced. The oil went over the valve and fittings, but the hydrant

hadn’t been set yet.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was called, and EPA workers removed dirt and washed off the lines, Porter said. The makers of the valves and couplers were contacted, and they explained the best way to clean them of the oil.

A sample of the water was taken, and the line was shut off to one customer west of the site. The customer is being provided with bottled water until test results are returned to confirm the water there is safe to drink, according to Porter.

Porter said he is keeping a record of the costs incurred, and has contacted the village’s insurance company. The final cost won’t be known for a couple of weeks, but it has been projected at $3,000 to $5,000.

In another matter, Porter said plans for water plant upgrades are almost completed, and the question before council members now is whether they want to start on three phases of the project now or wait until the end of the year to address the entire plant renovation as one project.

Repairs to the carbonation unit, the chlorine room and the high service pumps all have been mandated by the Ohio EPA. The cost for the repairs is $522,400.

Interest on the loan to do infrastructure work is currently at 0.79 percent for a 30-year period.

“If we wait for the complete engineering study to be completed, we’re going to be pushing the weather,” Porter told council, asking for permission to start the paperwork on the project.

Council will discuss the matter further at their next work session, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

In other matters, a Rayland resident wrote to the city asking to purchase one of the village’s discarded traffic lights for “personal use.” Council gave Porter permission to sell the lights after he researches their value.

Kovalyk said gas line repairs in the village will continue next week on the 4400 block of Noble Street, and parking in that area will be affected for a few days.