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Bellaire continues search for admin

BELLAIRE — Bellaire Village Council continues its search for a new village administrator more than a year after its former employee retired.

The topic was discussed during last week’s meeting. Clerk Mary Nixon said the village had not received any new applications from interested parties. She said they had previously received two and that she had conducted a phone interview with one person — Jamison Jeffery of Huntington, West Virginia — though she did not feel he was what council was looking for. Nixon spoke positively of Jeffrey but said she did not feel his management experience fit the desired criteria of council.

The position has been vacant since June 2021 when the former administrator, Mike Wallace, retired. Councilwoman Elizabeth Dudmore expressed concerns over the lack of responses from applicants.

“The sad thing is that we put this on Indeed and try to canvass the state of Ohio to see what we could draw in. It was disappointing — the responses. We put it out on Facebook to see if we could draw somebody locally to try and say we canvassed everything but she has gotten anything from locals, either,” Dudmore said.

Mayor Ed Marling said he submitted his “pick” for the position; however, council chose to continue to look for alternatives.

Nixon noted that two other applicants she contacted had already taken other positions and were no longer interested in the job.

Councilman Jerry Fisher said he has not been receiving the emails entailing applicant’s resumes.

Nixon said she sends the information to all council members.

It was suggested to provide Fisher with hardcopies instead of via email.

The matter was not discussed further.

In other discussions, resident Steve Sepatina inquired what council was doing to encourage businesses to come to the village. He said he has heard that some building owners make more money when the property is left unoccupied than when it is occupied.

“Why don’t you guys impose some kind of commercial vacancy tax on these people? If it’s sitting there empty, it’s going to sit there empty forever unless they’re penalized for it,” he said.

Councilman Mike Doyle asked him where he received the information that property owners make more money without a tennant than with. To which Sepatina said that Councilman Jerry Fisher had previously mentioned it.

Dudmore said that some of the buildings in the village have gotten into such bad shape that owners could be prohibited to reinvest money into the building; however, there are programs designed to help revamp deteriorated building rehabilitation at the county and state level.

Doyle said he is “more than interested” in pursuing grant funds for sidewalks and facades, along with hearing any plans or ideas on how to bring in more businesses.

Sepatina said he is not a business or property owner, he is just a resident interested in seeing the community improve.

Dudmore said she appreciates Sepatina’s concerns and believes that everyone would like to see improvements to the village’s appearance.

Council members went back and forth regarding possible funding opportunities for building improvements. Doyle noted that the village has the matching funds for community improvements such as sod and sidewalks, though the issue is finding the right grants to assist with funding the projects.

Doyle, who is a commercial building owner himself, also said that having a tenant fill an opening and paying rent is the optimal choice.

“Anybody that would say a vacant building is your optimal choice probably doesn’t own any buildings,” he said.

Sepatina then asked if the village had the authority to request residents with “junk in their yards” clean up the property.

“It drives everybody’s property values down and it looks horrible,” he said.

Marling said they are currently citing residents for unsightly properties.

“It’s all about putting pride in your property,” he added.

Council next meets at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at the municipal building.

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