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Martins Ferry plans town hall to update citizens on progress

MARTINS FERRY — Mayor John Davies said Tuesday morning that an upcoming town hall meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 6, will aim to inform residents about progress officials have made around town and about upcoming projects, as well as to field questions from the public.

One item that Davies did address was special interest groups, as in they won’t be allowed to speak at this meeting.

“No special interest groups,” he said.

When asked if that meant area residents who have approached council in opposition to the Austin Master frack waste treatment facility, he said he wasn’t naming any one particular group. He repeated, though, that the town hall would only be for city residents to hear updates. He said city officials would not be taking any questions on the Austin Master facility.

Davies said he wished to avoid any “fear mongering” – a term he used to describe the near-constant pressure being applied by members of the Concerned Ohio River Residents advocacy group on city officials, as well as on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency.

When informed that their concerns about Austin Master wouldn’t be heard on Feb. 6, CORR member Bev Reed said she was surprised because the organization had what she felt was a productive meeting in October with Davies and other council members.

“They clearly don’t want to work with us,” Reed said, “and I don’t know why.”

Reed said she feels city officials are now taking a step backward on the issue.

She said CORR is focused on the need for ODNR to do its job with inspections of the facility. She said recent inspections show cause for alarm with toxic waste being spread outside the plant. She did admit, however, that the latest inspection was “better.”

Davies defended his stance, repeating that the facility is being inspected and that no ground water is being contaminated by it. He believes CORR is alleging that the city water source is being contaminated, but Reed said is not what they are saying.

“If I thought for a second there was something wrong, I’d be on the phone calling somebody,” Davies said.

A call to the ODNR inspector for Belmont County, Bill Stolarik, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

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