Vavra named new law director

BELLAIRE – The retirement of solicitor Ed Sustersic from the Village of Bellaire left village council in need of a law director.

That position was quickly filled this week as attorney Joe Vavra was approved by a 5-0 vote by council during Thursday’s meeting.

Vavra was one of two candidates who expressed interest in the position. The other was former village solicitor and attorney Michael Shaheen, who most recently ran for the position of Western Division Court judge and is rounding out his term on the Ohio Liquor Control Board in March.

It was that appointment to the liquor control board that forced Shaheen’s hand to resign as village solicitor in the past.

Shaheen was unable to attend the council meeting, instead drafting a letter that clerk Tom Sable read before council.

Vavra was in attendance and, prior to the vote, stated his case before the voting party.

“I’ve been licensed to practice since Nov. 2009,” Vavra said. “I’ve spoken with Ed Sustersic about the requirements of what I would need to do and I’m certainly up for what needs to be done.

“I don’t have Ed’s experience. But I am confident that I have the work ethic to make up for that. I will be able to do anything that council requests and I’m able to start right away.”

Vavra, whose father John serves nearby as a judge for division court, has experience as a law director, serving in the same capacity for the Village of Rayland.

But as Vavra explained, Rayland’s council generally meets on Mondays, leaving him free to attend all the Bellaire meetings, which take place the first and third Thursdays of the month.

Vavra’s availability played a large role in his approval from council.

Because Shaheen’s term with the control board doesn’t expire until March, there was some question as to whether he could start right away.

Vavra, on the other hand, was available immediately … literally.

Councilwoman Pat Thomas motioned for Vavra’s approval, a move seconded by Councilman Jim Piatt.

Councilman Jerry Fisher then motioned to approve Shaheen. It was not seconded.

Vavra’s appointment was approved 5-0, with Councilman Josh Meyer absent because of a family obligation.

Following the vote, Vavra immediately took his seat as law director and began working.

Vavra currently resides in St. Clairsville, which is also the location of the law office he works with.

Hughes may be reached at