Martins Ferry firefighters commended

MARTINS FERRY – City council commended the fire department and looked to infrastructure improvements during its Wednesday meeting.

The mayor, council and guests commended the volunteer fire department for its work in combating a house fire at South Zane Highway and preventing the fire from spreading. Mayor Paul Riethmiller confirmed that city workers responded to help.

“This administration’s policy is that during daytime hours when our volunteer firefighters are out of town at their regular jobs and we are short handed on a major structure fire, we will always allow our city workers who are volunteer firemen to respond to the fire to save structures and lives,” he said. “The life we save may be yours.”

Fire Chief Jack Regis thanked all who helped, as well as the employers who support their firefighter employees. Thanks also went to the city for its support of Betty Zane Days and other events.

Riethmiller also gave an update on the JB Green Team curbside recycling test project. Delivery of the containers is set for mid- October, with the program to begin early November.

Also, the Norfolk Southern railroad pedestrian walk bridge was inspected by the railroad and will be removed by the end of the year. The bridge has been rusting and falling apart for years. It was built in 1916 and is no longer in use.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has announced that the Ohio 7 Norfolk Southern railroad crossing will soon be an exempted railway crossing after requests by the city and school district. The change will take effect when the signage is in place.

Water Superintendent Craig Harris reported the two pressure regulating valves have been replaced at Sunset Heights and Elm Drive. Several weeks ago, the old valves failed, causing 15 water breaks. They should function for decades.

Also, Harris reported on an evaluation from the ozone generator manufacturer on making generators more efficient to reduce liquid oxygen usage. The diffusers must be replaced. The price should be less than $10,000, and would cut a third of liquid oxygen usage.

In addition, little progress has been made on resolving issues of residual chlorine in the filter bed. Harris added that the manufacturers are giving little help. He will continue flushing. Council Member Bruce Shrodes noted that the manufacturer has not cooperated in months, although they were contracted to replace the bed and make it operational.

Riethmiller said legal proceedings may be initiated if they fail to respond. Harris added that the filter bed poses no safety issue, only an increase in cost of chlorine consumption.

Harris also reported a water break on the waterline that supplies the Hillendale ball field, damaging the paving on 647 and requiring a three quarter-inch replacement. About 155 feet of line buckled. The city will be billed.

Council will consider options in making repairs during an upcoming safety committee meeting. Riethmiller said Dix Addition repairs should have priority due to the greater simplicity of that project.

Also, due to decreased demand, the water plant has been shut down seven days in September. The average is 1.5 millions of gallons of production per day, a reduction of one million gallons compared to last year. He advised the pursuit of additional revenue through tying into another community or working with frackers. He noted the city sells water to three outfits, less than 10,000 gallons per month.

Service Director Chuck Bennett reported South Street culvert repairs have begun after removing 90 feet where the ground had sunk and determining the bottom is deteriorating from the remaining 120 feet of galvanized pipe, under a concrete driveway. They are looking at options.

Also, the last dilapidated structure to be razed this year will be taken down this week on North Eighth Street.

In addition, Police Chief John McFarland confirmed that the police vehicles and equipment would be prepared for winter.

Auditor Rita Randall reported that the water department is in the negative. In addition, local government will be cut by $6,000 last year.

Development Director Kathy Wade-Gagin addressed the possibility of a noise barrier at the north end of the highway. She noted funding is an issue and the city does not own the property. The maximum barrier height is 25 feet.

She also reported on the possibility of an energy audit for all city buildings. She said 50 of the city’s 54 meters qualify for funding. The city must be less than 200 kilowatts per year. If the city agrees to the project this year, they may look into expanding to include streetlights next year.

In response to a guest’s question, Riethmiller noted that the parking meter reader is training for a utility office’s position. If she takes the position, a new reader will be sought.

The street sweeper will continue to be run until Nov. 15. Tickets will still be given out, so residents are reminded to keep their vehicles moved on the proper days.

A date will be set for fall clean up day. Electric recycling will participate. A fee of $15 will be charged for old-style televisions.

A street committee meeting was set for Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m.

A safety committee meeting was set for Sept. 23, 5:30 p.m.

DeFrank can be reached at