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Lawsuit filed against village

BRIDGEPORT — The village has hired outside counsel after an Ohio Valley resident filed a lawsuit against the village and the Belmont County Board of Elections.

Following an hour-long executive session Tuesday evening, Bridgeport Village Council hired attorney Issac Wiles to represent the village in a pending lawsuit.

Solicitor Michael Shaheen said Wiles was hired due to a conflict of interest as Shaheen is a member of the board of elections.

William Schmitt of Bellaire recently filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Ohio against the village, village officials, and the board of elections. Schmitt alleges that the village was in violation of Ohio law when a village employee refused to accept a petition for the November ballot, according to a case file found on Ballot Access News.

Schmitt was attempting to file a petition that would reduce penalties for marjuana offenses in the village of Bridgeport.

Shaheen said the lawsuit was filed after Schmitt attempted to file the local option with village.

“There’s a procedure to be followed. He (Schmitt) alleges the procedure was not followed and he is suing the village and the board of elections. Both the village and the board of elections will file a response,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to the Supreme Court, both entities must file an answer to the complaint by noon on Thursday.

Shaheen said they could not comment further while the lawsuit is pending.

In other matters, Lt. Darby Copeland filled in for Police Chief John Bumba to give the police chief’s monthly report during the meeting. Copeland said they have conducted 63 traffic stops this month and administered 59 citations. He said during a traffic stop Tuesday, Sgt. Hunter Sylvis stopped a vehicle on I-70, where he discovered and confiscated 3.5 ounces of cocaine along with $6,000 in cash. Copeland said the amount of narcotics seized had a street value of $15,000 to $20,000. He said the department also had a collaborative effort with the St. Clairsville Police Department last weekend where they confiscated 6.5 ounces of methamphetamine during the drug bust. He said it has been a busy month for the police department.

Copeland said the department’s biggest issue is staffing as they still have not filled a full-time position. He added that the department has not been fully staffed since December.

Bridgeport Council will next meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at the village municipal building located at 301 Main St., Bridgeport.

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