Slips around Ferry Schools

MARTINS FERRY — A heated discussion about road slips in the district campus marked the board of education’s first meeting of 2019.

A full board of Bill Suto, Nick Stankovich, Dorothy Powell, Scott Ballint, and Brian McFarland, discussed the matter, with Suto and Stankovich as members of the Building and Grounds Committee relating problems dating from the move to the hilltop campus in the mid-2000s.

They noted there are two slips, one located behind the elementary school and one behind the bus garage.

Suto said the problem is further complicated by the fact that the 58 acres of property where the slips are located are not in the district’s name, but still in the estate of the late Tom Ayers. This property includes the district office, the bus garage, and a strip of land around the elementary school.

“In 2005, Mr. Ayers gave us this property,” Stankovich said. “We leased 58 more acres off of him. … We paid off the lease. The lease for for (about) $900,000…When it got paid off a couple years ago, we contacted our attorneys, who were supposed to transfer the property into our name. It never got done.”

Stankovich said he thought the problem began during the building process, when those areas were used as dumping sites for excess dirt from the landscaping process, he believed the dirt was insufficiently packed, which he believes contributed to the current slip problem.

“Everything was all done. All of the landscaping was done, all that stuff. We were still working down at the track and some other places, and we had no place to dump the dirt,” Stankovich said.

“The contractors ran out of space…they ran out of places to dump. So that’s where it ended up. Around the property,” Superintendent Jim Fogle said.

Stankovich said the slips became evident in late 2007.

Suto added that the rainy weather and cold has further exacerbated the slips with freezing and thawing.

“It’s not just one layer of cracking going on. It’s layer after layer after layer after layer going on,” Suto said. “What’s happening right now is the worst thing that can happen. 20 degrees last night, it’s going to be 40 (degrees) next week. It’s the worst conditions for this.”

He added that the board must also address the issue of people littering around the slips.

“We’ve got people dumping out here, on top of the slips,” he said. “There’s tree branches. There’s garbage. It’s unreal what people do up here…There’s a lot of things going on with buildings and grounds, and none of it is really good.”

The board will consult with the original contractor, Dino Colaianni out of Dillonvale, and arrange for an engineer to review the state of the grounds and make a report. At that time, the board will consider options and costs.

Meanwhile, the board will also look into completing the procedure to finalize ownership of the property.

“We need to transfer the deed to the property that we purchased to the board of education’s name,” Fogle said, adding that he did not anticipate any problems with the transfer.

In addition, board members pointed out that properties down the hill could be impacted by the slips.

“When you’re up on a hill like this, there’s property owners below that could be effected,” Fogle said.

In other matters, Powell was named president of the board for 2019.

The board also approved refinancing bonds for a lower interest rate and expected savings of $300,000, based on current interest rates, during the life of the bonds, 2032.

The board approved the purchase of a 78-passenger bus through the Ohio Mid Eastern Regional Education Service Agency Bus Purchasing Program from Ohio CAT Thomas Bus Sales at a cost of $98,714, less $3,500 trade-in value. Fogle said this was an expected cost and the district has submitted an application for a grant for an additional grant of $5,000 toward the purchase.

The board went into executive session on matters of personnel. No action was taken.