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Pandemic won’t rain out parade in St. Clairsville

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — City leaders continue to plan for projects and holiday events while keeping a wary eye on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police operations were on the table when council held a brief teleconference meeting Tuesday for the second reading of the proposed Fraternal Order of Police contract, to replace the prior three-year contract. Council President Jim Velas said there were few changes expected. Council will accept or reject the contract during the next meeting July 6.

Currently, there are eight full-time officers and no plans to add to the roster. New Police Chief Matt Arbenz has taken the helm as of the start of 2020, and the department is in the process of obtaining a new K-9 that may be on duty in early fall.

“I think everybody’s very pleased with our police department,” Velas said.

In other matters, the city’s newest ordinances and resolutions may soon be on display around town, with enclosed display boards at sites around the center of St. Clairsville.

“There’s certain places they have to be posted and we’re running into issues,” Velas said. “Some of the places that were designated will no longer let you post them. … The banks won’t do it anymore, the post office won’t do it. … There’s very few public places, so we’ll put it up here at the city building.”

Other possible locations include the courthouse plaza in front of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Residence Museum, recreation center and in the St. Clairsville Public Library. Velas said they will be sealed so no one can remove or add anything.

After the meeting, Velas and Jason Garczyk, clerk of council, walked around the center of the city looking for likely spots.

Mayor Kathryn Thalman said St. Clairsville is preparing for upcoming Independence Day festivities, but with precautions in mind due to the pandemic.

“We’re going to have a Fourth of July parade at 7 p.m.,” she said. “We’ve got Uncle Sam and George Washington and Betsy Ross will be riding in cars … since we still can’t congregate, so we’ll bring the parade to them.”

She said a route will be posted when decided.

Like the rest of the state, St. Clairsville is waiting to hear if they will be able to light the night sky with fireworks.

“We aren’t allowed to have them yet, and unfortunately … people came back positive from Myrtle Beach. We had a big spike again and I’m afraid that things in the state are going to get shut down more because they’re spiking. With the soft openings, the numbers are going up. It’s a very dynamic situation.

“I don’t know where it is yet, but we will follow the governor’s directives.”

Meanwhile, the city continues to work toward the planned changeover from the aging water treatment plant and reservoir. The plant must be discontinued by order of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Thalman is planning to meet with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to make further plans to find water leaks and leak detection.

“That’ll be I think a joint project with Bellaire, Martins Ferry, the county and maybe Bridgeport. They want to have a regional meeting and hopefully we’ll be able to do it live-time. We don’t know yet. It’s going to depend on COVID. We’re looking to have a kickoff meeting with the RCAP people,” she said.

Thalman said since metering the city buildings, it has been determined St. Clairsville’s water loss is 28 percent.

“We need to find the leaks to mitigate that much. I think the EPA says 15 percent is acceptable, so we want to get it down even lower,” she said.

Thalman’s administration is also continuing to look for candidates for the position of city service director.

“I don’t want to choose in haste,” she said.

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