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Worker faces consequences for alleged racial slurs

BELLAIRE — A village water department worker is facing serious consequences regarding his employment after allegedly using racial slurs on social media.

Following a more than one-hour closed-door session Thursday evening by Bellaire Village Council, village Solicitor Michael Shaheen confirmed that a water department employee allegedly made the remarks on social media, while also identifying himself as a village worker.

Shaheen declined to disclose the man’s name, as the matter was a personnel issue discussed during the executive session.

“I was provided a copy of the post tonight. That was the first time I actually saw it because I am not on social media,” Shaheen said. “The content was very disturbing. Even though it was posted outside the regular hours of business, the person identifies himself with his title here in the village. The mayor and council have been made aware, too. Everyone is disturbed and distraught. The handbook has a procedure for any kind of discipline or termination. It’s been referred to me and the village will take action swiftly.”

Shaheen said he would be sending his recommendation regarding the employee to the village via a letter today. He declined to say whether that recommendation to council would be to permanently end the man’s employment. However, he confirmed the man already has been suspended from his job and forced to turn in all his work-related keys.

“Tonight was the first chance we had to discuss it. … Per the handbook, the village solicitor makes a recommendation. … The village will take swift, decisive action,” he said. “The mayor, myself and council are sickened by the comment. We take this very seriously. In my world, and especially in this climate, that’s not something somebody gets a pass on. It’s unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, during the open portion of the meeting, council approved allowing the South Bellaire Methodist Church to conduct a back-to-school giveaway fair on Aug. 8 at the Village Park. The event is expected to begin at 10 a.m. and continue until an undetermined time.

Village Clerk Mary Nixon also read a letter from a new cable provider doing business in the village, MC TV. The company recently purchased Bellaire Cable and is doing upgrades to improve its TV, internet and cable offerings.

Village Treasurer Tom Sable said MC TV has rented office space in the former Chase Bank building and he has noticed its trucks doing work in the village.

In other matters, Village Administrator Mike Wallace discussed ongoing issues related to storm sewer separations, which is something the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency wants the village to fix in a certain time period.

He also talked about some gains in curbing water losses in the village’s distribution system and at faulty meters. Though some meters have been replaced and some lines fixed, there is still much more work to do. Wallace suggested the village may want to consider increasing its water rates in increments to help create revenue for such projects.

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