Martins Ferry council targets drug enforcement

MARTINS FERRY – City council addressed issues of drug enforcement and property maintenance during Wednesday night’s meeting.

Council also assented to a request from Safety Director Bill Suto on behalf of the police chief for an ordinance prohibiting the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana and similar dangerous substances in Martins Ferry. He had several pieces of sample ordinances to present to council.

He added that the problem of synthetic marijuana is growing in town. He noted the new and changing types of drugs law enforcement faced.

Suto also noted the Aug. 25 DUI checkpoint on Ohio 7 was successful. Council approved the purchase of new breathalyzers and protective equipment.

Council also approved the request for the purchase and installation of a traffic camera for Hanover and Route 7 at a quoted price of about $5,000.

Service Director Chuck Bennett Jr. reported on maintenance issues, including the city’s work in caring for 50 lots. Councilman Robert Duncan said the city cannot afford to allow this number to increase.

“It’s a situation that needs to be looked at and dealt with and fixed,” he said, noting that the ordinance committee is looking into litigation options.

Councilman Chris Cleary added that the code administrative committee is continuing to take action regarding the issue of property maintenance. He added the city was taking care of private lots and passing fees on to the owners in the form of property tax. The city has contacted the collection agency used by county court to collect the fines. The process is of no cost to the city and will be billed to the property owners.

“It’s a win-win for us and it’s a lose-lose for a neglectful property owner,” Cleary said.

The committee is also looking into updating the zoning code. They have been in dialogue with Steubenville’s city planner. Thanks went to OSU’s John Glen School of Public Affairs for providing information and contacts.

Compliments also went to Code Administrator Betty Suto for her work in facilitating the tearing down of a condemned building on Hanover Street. Demolition is expected to be completed by Friday, followed by cleanup.

Bennett also noted patching has been completed on Rider Alumni Road with a total of 36 tons used. Cost was $65 per ton. Patching was also addressed on Zane Knoll and Floral Valley.

Also, repairs were completed on a city culvert. Bennett reported tree trimming, improvements to water drainage on Marianne Drive, and a new 12-foot section of Gabian Wall installed in the creek at the top of the cemetery road. He reported rebuilt storm basins and grass cutting on Route 7.

Council approved the fire department’s request to utilize the city park for a fundraiser Oct. 13-14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The fire department will celebrate its 125th anniversary banquet Sept. 8 at the rec center.

Regarding the city streets, Councilman Russell Armstrong reported accompanying representatives from Lash Paving to several sites to take measurements. Estimates will be provided for paving costs. The city has an excess of $14,400 from a prior project available.

Also, council held the third reading of an ordinance to modify scheduled meetings to the first and third Wednesdays of each month, 6 p.m.

Council additionally held the third reading of an ordinance to solicit bids for repairs and replacement of two filter beds for the water treatment plant.

Council held the first reading of an ordinance to transfer real estate to Habitat for Humanity.

The public relations committee will meet Sept. 25, 6 p.m. at council chambers to review the possibility of setting up a Meet the Candidates Night. Residents had requested council look into the matter. Chamber of commerce representatives will be present.

The finance committee will hold a meeting Sept. 17, 5:30 p.m., canceling the one set for Sept. 10.

A service committee meeting was set for Sept. 13, 6 p.m.

The safety committee will meet Oct. 15, 5:30 p.m.

A crime watch is set for Sept. 22, 6 p.m. at the American Legion.

DeFrank can be reached at