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St. C. kicks off 2021

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — City council kicked off its first teleconference of 2021 with talk about public input and disagreement about a possible new utility position.

Councilman Frank Sabatino followed up on a question asked at the end of 2020, one about public participation in the meetings. He had pointed out that residents had expressed an interest in being able to call in and ask questions of city leaders during council. Prior to the pandemic and the shift from in-person to teleconference meetings, the council chambers had frequently been packed with residents speaking on a variety of issues.

“What’s the status of that? You were going to have that in place by the end of January?” he said.

Council President Jim Velas said instructions for being placed on a list for public participation will soon be on the city website, stclairsville.com.

“The guidelines will be what they were previously, and those guidelines will be established on the city’s website so that everybody can be aware.

“Those requests again will have to be in writing, and they will have to be submitted to the council clerk. Those guidelines will be put on the city’s website so that anyone can refresh their memory if they have something that they would like to address (to) council,” Velas said.

“That will be on there hopefully by the next council meeting, if not it’ll be by the first meeting in February,” he said.

In other matters, council held the second reading of an ordinance abolishing the position of utility office manager/assistant finance/IT and creating the position of utility manager. The council didn’t amass enough votes to suspend all three readings of the ordinance, so the third reading will be held at the next meeting, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Terra Butler, Mike Smith, Perry Basile and Beth Oprisch voted in favor of suspending the readings and Sabatino, Mark Bukmir and Linda Jordan opposed. Five votes were needed to suspend the three readings.

Mayor Kathryn Thalman did not comment on the reasoning behind the proposed change at this time.

In matters of streets, Basile is looking into street signs at Legion Road.

“We’ve had a couple instances where kids were playing out in that area and almost got hit,” Basile said. Velas suggested discussing the matter and issues of liability to the city with Law Director Elizabeth Glick.

Thalman and Smith commended the road crews for their work in clearing streets of snow during the Christmas holiday.

Thalman continues to speak with the Belmont County Health Department about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. She said local Kroger and Riesbeck’s pharmacies will also be distributors, but have not received vaccines yet.

She has expressed an interest in getting St. Clairsville law enforcement vaccinated and voiced the hope that once council members are vaccinated, they might resume in-person meetings and livestream them to the public.

Also, Safety and Service Director Jeremy Greenwood reminded residents to move their vehicles off the street during snowfall and for businesses not to shovel snow onto parking spaces on the streets. The city is collecting Christmas trees.

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