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Husarik conducts council meeting in Mayor Smith’s stead

BRIDGEPORT — Bridgeport Village Council President Marvin Husarik led council’s first meeting in the wake of theft allegations against Mayor David W. Smith.

Husarik has taken over the mayoral duties and day-to-day operations until the pending charges against the mayor are resolved.

Smith relinquished his mayoral duties last week following reports that he is facing both felony and misdemeanor charges including tampering with records, theft in office and conflict of interest. Smith is accused of stealing more than $20,000 from the village between June 2016 and November 2019.

During that time, Smith allegedly removed cash payments and corresponding traffic tickets that were awaiting processing, keeping the funds for his own personal gain. Additionally, the misdemeanour charges are related to his alleged use of a village employee to handle his personal errands, including babysitting and banking.

Although Smith is temporarily foregoing his duties, he has not resigned.

During the meeting, Husarik opened the floor to concerned residents in attendance and answered their questions. One resident asked who handles the money coming into the village.

“We have representatives from Zanesville, our fiscal officer (Chris Kirby),” Husarik said.

Village Solicitor Michael Shaheen said the once the village entered a state of fiscal emergency, someone with a strong background in the Uniform Accounting Network was needed. That is when Kirby was recommended by state officials and hired in October, he said. However, Shaheen said a more permanent arrangement must be found, as Kirby is unable to attend most meetings and does not reside inside the village.

Husarik said the fiscal emergency was brought on by too much spending when not enough revenue was coming in.

Another resident was upset about large trucks driving “too fast” through Howard Street and flinging rocks around. He asked council for a solution to aid with the truck traffic.

“Between 4 and 7 o’clock is one constant rumble from trucks of all types running down Howard Street. They’re destroying the streets,” he said.

The man said the trucks are using the street as a shortcut and it’s an inconvenience to the residents of the village. He suggested a sign to divert the truck traffic.

Husarik said there is no load limit posted for the road, but officials will look into the matter. He also said he would look into repairing and patching the roadway.

In other news, Larry Taylor, energy specialists for Volunteer Energy Solutions, presented a check to the village in the amount of $1,378.

“I administer the village of Bridgeport’s gas aggregation program, and once a year I get the honor of presenting the community reinvestment check. The way that it works is that for every MCF of gas used by the village residents in the program, we donate back a nickel per every MCF,” Taylor explained.

The check is a part of the gas aggregation program residents voted in favor of in 2010. A check is presented to the village every two years from a percentage of the program. For every MCF, or 1,000 cubic feet, used by residents enrolled in the program, 5 cents is given back to the community. The program is meant to aid the village in various community-based projects.

“I appreciate the relationship that we have in Bridgeport. We’ve had it about 10 years now,” he said.

Out of approximately 160 communities involved in the program, only 12 receive a community reinvestment check.

Additionally, Police Chief John Bumba gave his police report for the month. There were 66 calls, two arrests, 66 traffic stops resulting in 61 citations, three warrants served, and two vehicle crashes, he said.

“It was a relatively quiet month,” he said.

Bumba then invited all residents to attend the Bridgeport Community Day meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Skyliner.

Toward the end of the meeting, Shaheen made a motion for council to enter executive session to discuss litigation and personnel. No action was taken afterward.

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