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Water shutoffs, late fees to resume in Barnesville

BARNESVILLE — Village officials learned last week that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency order prohibiting late fees and water shutoffs during the COVID-19 state of emergency in the state is set to be rescinded July 10.

Village Administrator Roger Deal made the announcement during a council meeting June 22, referencing a letter from Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson explaining that besides the prohibition of late fees and shutoffs, the March 31 order required the restoration of service to customers who had previously been shut off if they requested it. Deal said there was only one instance of that happening.

“Through this time period we figured we’ve let go about $7,600 in penalties and fees that we normally would have charged,” he said. “Overall we really haven’t done too bad.”

Deal said that effective July 10, the village water department will revert to normal business practices.

In his update, Fire Chief Tim Hall said that while there were no new cases to report in Barnesville, coronovirus numbers in Belmont County are on the rise. He said new cases had been linked to people returning from vacation.

“I just want to make you aware, we’re not out of the woods yet,” he cautioned. “We all still need to be careful, especially those who travel.”

Deal noted there had been a number of severe rain storms recently that had overwhelmed the village’s drainage systems and that subsequent cleanup by village crews had been a real struggle.

Councilman Tony Johnson said that during one of the rain storms he had been at a residence that had been having problems with sewer waste infiltrating the front yard and driveway and had witnessed the issue firsthand.

“Now I get that in the bottom that the culvert system, that there’s something going on there, but what I don’t get is the sanitary sewer issue, it’s obvious we have some infiltration there,” Johnson said and asked that immediate action be taken to get the problem fixed.

Deal said he was aware of the issue and that he would order a “smoke test” to help find the problem.

Johnson, Deal and Mayor Dale Bunting, along with Councilmen Jamie Betts and Steve Hill, discussed drainage issues in and around the football stadium parking lot.

Police Chief Rocky Sirianni requested the appointment of Hunter Kline to fill one of two full-time vacancies in the department, saying he felt that Kline, a Malaga resident, would be a good addition. Council approved his appointment by Bunting to the customary six-month probationary period.

Hill reviewed with council a variety of concerns raised by residents along Louise Lane and suggested the solution of allowing two-way traffic on the alley, along with installing a “slow” sign and a barrier pole to prevent vehicles from cutting across the corner of one property.

Council approved the changes, with Deal noting that two-way traffic had once been permitted on that alley.

Bunting announced that there will be fireworks in Barnesville on July 4.

“I still can’t say where they’re at since the governor says we can’t gather,” he said, but added that he was pretty sure folks would be able to see them from all over the community.

In other business, council approved paying bills in the amount of $54,856.52 and approved building permits for Courtney Valine to install a chain link fence at 340 Brill St., for John Jurco to demolish a structure at 830 N. Chestnut St. and for Melissa Nugent to install a pool deck at 726 Bond Avenue.

Barnesville Village Council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 6, will be preceded by a public hearing for the review of the 2021 fiscal year budget at 6 p.m. Both will take place at the Albert S. George Youth Center at Barnesville Memorial Park to allow for social distancing.

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