BELLAIRE - After missing the last meeting due to a power outage in the village (the makeup for which was canceled due to a lack of quorum), council met Thursday evening and made a rather large decision after its executive session.
Representatives of the Neffs Fire Department addressed council at the end of its public forum and requested that council make a decision on the renewal of the contract between the department and the village. The representatives felt as though the village council had placed the issue aside for too long.
After some debate over whether or not to vote on the issue due to the absence of Councilpersons Lou Ann Bennett and Jerry Fisher, council eventually voted not to renew its contract with the Neffs Fire Department. The village will remain with the department until July 30 when the current contract will expire.
Following this decision, council also voted to establish the Bellaire Volunteer Fire Department. and appointed current Code Enforcer Bill Swoyer as the acting fire chief. Further details about the changes will be forthcoming.
Prior to the decision regarding the fire department, several other issues were discussed and many updates were presented to council. The first of these was a resolution that enables the village to enter into a local government innovations fund study.
The feasibility study is intended to survey local municipalities' ability to work with one another in order to provide "the most effective services at the lowest possible cost" to all the residents of neighboring towns.
Village Administrator Dan Marling explained that the resolution presented to council was a required measure to pursue the matter further. He stated that the study will determine if the municipalities (Brookside, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, Bellaire and the county) are capable of working together in the matter, rather than each town working independently.
"What this memorandum of understanding is on this resolution you're going to vote on this evening," he said, "it's just authorizing that the village of Bellaire supports a feasibility study being done by RCAP (the Rural Community Assistance Program) to see if that's something that would be feasible for the municipalities."
The resolution was approved by council.
Council also accepted quite an altruistic donation of over $9,300 which was made by the Forest Hills Community Association. The money was donated from the Lydia Ashworth Fund in her memory and is intended to help the Bellaire Police Department during its time of need. The money must be used specifically for the purchase of equipment for the officers and the department.
"They wanted to help our local police department out by donating these funds from their fund in memory of Ms. Ashworth. We are very grateful for their generosity," Treasurer Tom Sable said.
Councilman Jim Williams also addressed a recent clean-up effort that has been started in the village and encouraged individuals to volunteer for the program.
"The purpose of the committee is to basically clean up Bellaire again," he said. "It will basically be picking up trash, cutting weeds (and) things like that, if we can get enough volunteers to do that."
Williams stated that the clean-up committee will be meeting again on Monday, 7 p.m., at the Veterans' Affairs office on Belmont Street. Anyone who would like to volunteer is welcome to attend the meeting.
Marling also commented on the clean-up program. "First of all, we want to thank everybody that's been volunteering. As everybody knows, with the budget cuts that we've had this year out of the general fund because of the deficit, we were not able to fill the two temporary, part-time summer (positions) that we use to mow grass. Any help we can get in that situation is greatly appreciated. We're always looking for volunteers," he said.
Marling also explained that because the clean-up effort will be sponsored by the village, any volunteers to the program would be covered under the village's insurance and workers' compensation if any mishaps should occur. The village will maintain a record of all volunteers to the program.
Scott can be reached at email@example.com.