Shadyside chief seeks support

SHADYSIDE The Ohio River & Western Fire District became a reality during the latter stages of 2011, forming a board and hiring a fiscal officer and law director.

Now all that remains is a little matter of a 4-mill levy that needs passage come voting time in November.

Passage ensures not only continued quality fire and EMS protection for the residents of Shadyside and Mead Township, but also improved response time.

In emergency situations, when time is of the essence, the quicker the response, the better.

That’s why Shadyside Fire Chief Dave Lenz had been approaching Shadyside Village Council and the Mead Township Trustees for the last few years about forming a fire district.

Currently, Shadyside village residents are subject to a 2-mill levy while those residing in Mead Township must account for 0.5 mills for protection.

Owners with property worth $50,000 will see an increase of roughly $70 per year. That same property receiving a homestead exemption will see an increase of roughly $30., if it is passed, would replace the current levies in place.

The levy will enable OR&W to hire part-time employees to staff the station on Central Ave. during the day, the time when the fewest volunteers are available regularly to assist on fire and EMS calls.

“We came up with basically an operating levy that will be just enough to pay the bills and the wages for the part-timers,” Lenz said. “We hope the money generated doing EMS billing can be put into a separate fund, allowing use to keep that money back for purchasing equipment, ambulances, etc.

“That way, we don’t have to get a levy.”

Aside from the obvious benefits of having paid staff to man the station, the formation of the district will have other positive changes.

Primarily, the district will have a better time securing grant funding than in its current capacity.

“Because the district would be stand-alone and not connected with the village, it would help us out on grants,” said Lenz, noting there is preference for stand-alone stations because they don’t have the option of local government funding.

So far, Lenz noted the public response has been positive in regard to the district’s proposal.

During the annual Shadyside Firemen’s Festival, members of the department manned an informational booth, handing out brochures and answering any questions posed.

“So far, no one has expressed to us that they think this isn’t a good idea,” Lenz said. “I know it’s early, but that’s a good sign. It’s almost September and, so far, no one has come forward and said anything against the levy.”

The fire board has another meeting scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at the fire station. During that meeting, board members will establish dates for a few upcoming public informational meetings to further get the word out.

Lenz said the department is looking to inform the general public, as well as groups like the American Legion, the Shadyside Chamber of Commerce, the council of churches and other groups.

The dates and times for the meetings will be announced shortly after Monday’s board meeting. Lenz said he looks for the meetings to take place in September.

Hughes may be reached at