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St. C. to resume in-person meetings

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The city council will once again be meeting face-to-face after nearly a year of teleconference sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Council President Jim Velas announced the 7:30 May 17 meeting will be in person.

“Due to the relaxation of some of the people in the meetings, we will have enough room in our council chambers to accommodate the entire council and the city officials,” Velas said. “They will follow all of the guidelines laid down by the health department … We are in serious hopes that they will relax them even a little bit more, where we will be able to consider bringing the general public back into the meeting.”

Until then, the meeting will remain closed to the general public, but people can call in and listen.

This comes after council voted by email during a teleconference meeting April 5, filling two positions on the recreation board. Technical difficulties prompted Velas to suggest an email format for that vote, which since came under criticism when the full breakdown was not immediately available to the public when the results were announced.

“Council will appear in person in the meetings. They will not respond on telephones, or they’ll be no questions or voting on telephones. They will have to appear at the meeting,” Velas said.

Council will also consider hiring Jason Duvall as wastewater superintendent for the treatment plant. He would receive a yearly salary of $53,500 with a possible bonus after a six-month evaluation.

Council members Frank Sabatino and Linda Jordan asked for Duvall’s resume to be provided.

Safety and Service Director Jeremy Greenwood said the city reached out to two other potential supervisors. He said Duvall is a St. Clairsville resident and would work full-time. He said currently, the city is paying a contractor $101,495 yearly to operate the plant four hours a day. Greenwood said Duvall is a former wastewater employee.

“We should have been sent the resume,” Sabatino said. “I’d like to hold off on this until the next meeting for passage.”

In other matters, Debbie Reed program supervisor at the J.B. Martin Rec. Center, was named Employee of the Month for May. She has recently earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Leadership. She has secured more than $23,000 for the rec center in her two years of employment.

Also, Planning and Zoning Administrator Tom Murphy said while there have been rumors about the Census results finding St. Clairsville will retain city status, no official local information has been released to him. St. Clairsville has been concerned about retaining city status since last year, when estimates from the Census Bureau suggested the municipality was close to dipping under the 5,000-resident limit.

Police Chief Matt Arbenz read a thank-you letter from a Virginia resident to the department for the assistance of police officers in chasing down and capturing a runaway cow that bolted onto Interstate 70 during a transfer between transport trailers. Mayor Kathryn Thalman also thanked the West Texas Roadhouse for giving gift certificates to the participating officers. Arbenz said his officers worked with deputies from the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office and troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and passers-by also assisted.

Also, a demonstration of the police department’s new drone will be conducted at 7 p.m. May 10.

Community Day is set for June 26.

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