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Council hears pitch for help on water loss, meters

BELLAIRE — Village Council heard from a company Thursday night that believes it can help Bellaire with its extreme water loss situation.

Ray Schwarz, Ohio sales manager with the Nepute Equipment Co., Cincinnati, said his company wanted to do more than just sell Bellaire the new water meters it needs. NECO also wants to provide services to evaluate the village’s system and install the meters as well.

A few months ago it was brought to council’s attention that the village had a 70 percent water loss, likely from faulty meters and leaky infrastructure.

Schwarz said the type of meter his company sells does not have any interior moving parts that would corrode overtime. They are also tamper-proof.

“We’re not asking people to pay more, but pay for what they use,” he said.

Schwarz said NECO already has done local work in Steubenville, East Liverpool and Toronto. He did not mention a price for the meters and services, but it was noted the cost could vary.

Treasurer Tom Sable asked Schwarz if NECO could help identify sources of funding to help pay for the project. Schwarz said there may be various grants available. Village Administrator Mike Wallace added the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may have a lead waterline grant that would cover the cost of a meter as well.

While no action was taken by council, Councilwoman Elizabeth Dugmore said the village needs to remedy its infrastructure and that spending money on it is unavoidable.

“This is a start,” she added.

In other matters, it was noted that an area near Bellaire High School is going to be used as a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on Sept. 26. There is no cost or residency requirement. No doctor’s note is needed. It is a drive-through clinic. Those who need help getting to the site can call the Neffs Fire Department.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Dick Flanagan said a Trump caravan is set to come through Bellaire on Saturday. He did not mention an estimated time.

In other business, after hearing from its legal counsel, it appears council will advertise for bids for a piece of property that it initially approved to sell to a man who wants to redevelop the land.

The opinion from Brandon Lippert, an attorney filling in for Law Director Michael Shaheen, notes an empty lot owned by the village must be advertised for bids first in a newspaper. He based his opinion on Ohio Revised Code, he said. Council decided in a previous meeting, however, to go ahead and sell the property after talking with the auditor’s office, which advised that the village did not need to advertise for bids because the property was purchased at a sheriff’s sale.

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