Council reinstates VFD member

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON COUNCILMEN Gay Lucci, left, and Jerry Fisher discuss matters during a Bellaire Village Council meeting on Thursday.

BELLAIRE — The Bellaire Volunteer Fire Department is welcoming back one of its members following approval of the man’s reinstatement by Village Council on Thursday.

In a 4-1 decision, council approved allowing William E. Elliott of Shadyside to re-join the department.

Elliott completed a drug court program and his former drug trafficking charges were dismissed. Back in 2018, Elliott pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted trafficking in drugs. He was approved for the drug court program, and upon successful completion of it the court said it would expunge his record.

According to a Belmont County Common Pleas Court record provided by Elliott after the council meeting, his charges were dismissed Oct. 1.

“I’m thankful for the support of Fire Chief Josh McMahon, Assistant Chief Timothy Bell and council,” Elliott said.

Voting in favor of his reinstatement were Councilmen Jerry Fisher, Mike Doyle, Donny Maupin and Gay Lucci. Councilwoman Nikki Liberatore voted against reinstatement. Councilman Dan Brown was absent from the meeting.

After the meeting, Liberatore said she had nothing personal against Elliott and she wished him well on coming back to the VFD. However, she said she voted against his reinstatement because she believed allowing him to do so may make the village look bad.

“I hope he becomes an asset for the fire department,” she said.

Elliott is the owner of Shadyside Towing and Repair. In March 2018, he was arrested and charged with fifth-degree felonies that occurred Sept. 17, 2017. During the plea hearing in 2018, Elliott’s defense attorney, Donald J. Tennant Jr., pointed out that Elliott’s addiction to legally prescribed medications contributed to his crime. Elliott had no prior felony convictions and no prior criminal history prior to his arrest in 2017.

In other matters, council approved increasing the pay of its part-time backhoe operator by $1.50 per hour.

Police Chief Dick Flanagan said of the six blighted houses recently torn down in the village, two of them had passed final inspection. Four others, however, were not backfilled and graded properly by the demolition company. He said payment to the company was being held until the grading was done properly.

Flanagan also noted one of the department’s new cruisers would be arriving this month. It was purchased with grant money.

McMahon said the department’s new emergency generator was expected to be installed on the department’s roof next week. He added the department also received a $15,000 grant from Columbia Gas that allowed it to purchase stabilization bars. The bars are used to stabilize rolled cars at accident scenes and elevators in buildings.

“We have a lot of old elevators in Bellaire,” McMahon said, noting the former Chase Bank building’s elevator recently had issues.

The bars are placed underneath the elevator car to keep it from falling while getting people out.

Jack Keefer, village water distribution coordinator, asked council to consider purchasing a new tool truck soon as the current vehicle, an old former ambulance, was deteriorating. Auditor Tom Sable recommended council seek financing to buy a vehicle instead of taking money from the village coffers at this time. Fisher said two new trucks are needed.

“Those trucks are in bad shape,” Fisher said.

After the meeting, Lucci said he wanted to let residents know they are welcome to attend meetings and voice their concerns about issues. He noted there is no specific time limit set for people to speak. Also, he wanted to remind residents that council members are at-large, which means they represent the entire village. Council members are not assigned a specific ward to represent, which means a resident can call any council member for help no matter what neighborhood they reside in.

Staff Writer Robert DeFrank contributed to this report.