6 drug overdoses, 2 fatal in Bellaire

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON BELLAIRE POLICE Chief Mike Kovalyk, right, talks about the recent drug overdose deaths in the village as Village Solicitor John Vavra, center, listens.

BELLAIRE — Six people overdosed on drugs — two fatally — in Bellaire between Saturday and Wednesday morning, Police Chief Michael Kovalyk told village council members Thursday.

“We believe they were heroin overdoses with some other things mixed in,” he said. “Two people lost their lives. … In both the fatals, children were left motherless and children were left fatherless. That is sad.”

One person was a man from Bellaire, while the other was a woman from West Virginia. After the meeting, he declined to release their names.

Kovalyk added that people can help the police department possibly prevent more deaths by keeping an eye out for suspected drug houses and deals. For example, houses where people are frequently seen driving up, running inside for a few minutes and quickly leaving may be a sign that drugs are being sold inside.

“The good people of Bellaire, if you see something suspicious, write down the license numbers, makes of vehicles, times of day — record those numbers and give us a call. Write down what people were wearing, what they look like, where they were going, where they were coming from. It all helps,” Kovalyk said.

“It’s not just Bellaire, it’s everywhere. What happens in Bellaire, we make people aware of it and we let people know what our police department is doing — I’ve always done that. I believe it’s necessary we do that. We’re not running our town down, we’re saying we’re going to combat the issues. The people of this town will help this town and we’ll get these people out of here. It’s as simple as that,” he continued.

Kovalyk said it would be helpful to work with landlords who could notify police about when suspected dealers move from place to place.

Councilwoman Nikki Liberatore noted she had heard one of the people who died had been living in a half-way house on Noble Street. Kovalyk said a woman, who is from southern West Virginia, had been living in the Crossroads “recovery house,” but was kicked out for not passing her drug screening there. A day later she died of an overdose, he said.

Liberatore said she was surprised to learn of the halfway house being situated in the village.

“When someone told me that, I about dropped over. … How do we stop that stuff? I’m sure people don’t want that in their neighborhoods,” she said.

Kovalyk said he believed residents of the halfway house are on federal and possible state probation. Bellaire Fire Chief Ricky Smith added he had conducted fire safety inspections of the Crossroads building, but at the time did not realize what it would be used for. He said he was told the group planned to purchase more properties in Bellaire and other municipalities in the Ohio Valley.

The Bellaire man who overdosed died in a house in the village. Someone with him in the house called 911 for help, but it was too late. The man could not be revived.

In an unrelated matter, regarding the May 7 shooting death of West Bellaire resident Brad McGarry, Kovalyk said officers still are looking for the gun used in the crime. David C. Kinney, 30, of Brilliant has been charged with allegedly murdering McGarry.

Kovalyk said people in the community, along with friends and relatives of the victim, who came forward with information helped lead to Kinney’s arrest.

“All those people out there who have home security systems, or businesses that have security systems, make sure they are in operating condition. Because in this incident that proved to be a vital issue as far as times within the investigation. I believe we have a strong case,” he said.

In other matters:

∫ A project on 19th Street to clean out a 48-inch storm sewer pipe is ongoing and has been underway for the past 10 days, said Village Water Superintendent Gary Zavatsky. He said in addition to hundreds of tons of rock and debris, the contractor on the job — Odyssey Environmental — also had to cut out a portion of a large tree that had been growing inside the pipe.

The blockage on the drain had been causing problems on Belmont Street. During the course of the project, workers discovered another waterline break once thought to be just water runoff on the street. Zavatsky said the $20,000 job has also included cleaning out block drains on Guernsey Street near Family Dollar and another blockage on Belmont Street. He noted, however, that money allotted for the project was close to running out.

∫ Village Administrator Scott Porter said the village had received a statement from the Ohio EPA stating the village had resolved a violation regarding an intake along the Ohio River. The resolution, he said, noted the village was abiding by all the rules. He also said 27 new fire hydrants had been delivered and must be installed by December.

Porter said he also learned the village’s ISO rating was going to be revisited, as the person who conducted the last rating apparently did not have the correct information regarding the number of working fire hydrants in the village. The previous numbers apparently were off by 40 percent, he said.

He added a pole that once held the crosswalk signal had been damaged and needed replaced near the Kroger plaza. And a traffic mirror had once again been smashed.

∫ Smith said things were going well at the volunteer fire department, and he requested permission to block sections of certains streets at certain times during the upcoming All-American Days Festival, set for June 1-3.

∫ Resident Russell Burkhart said one of his neighbors was trying to block an “emergency alley” near his home with concrete barriers, making it difficult for people to pull in and out of their garages in the alley. Kovalyk said he would look into the matter and talk to the man.

∫ Business owner Rick Eden asked council to reinstall no-parking signage beside his lot to allow for more room for his towing vehicles to turn and incoming used car business to operate.

∫ City Clerk Tom Sable asked council to think about ways to better spend its existing revenue and to create more revenue in advance of a future work session regarding city finances. Mayor Vince DiFabrizio said after the meeting the village’s water department is running in the red.

∫ Council Clerk Mary Nixon noted she was reminded by someone that Bellaire — because of its location — likely will be in a good position to sell water to the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker plant that may be developed south of Shadyside.