Water readiness OK

WEIRTON – Weirton resident George Romage addressed Weirton City Council Monday, expressing concern regarding the city’s emergency response plans in the event of water contamination, citing the massive chemical spill in Charleston as an example.

“In case, God forbid, something like that were to happen here, do we have a backup source in case we have to shut down the river source?” Romage inquired.

“We do have back up water sources,” Utilities Director A.D. “Butch” Mastrantoni answered. “We have emergency plans that account for spills. We have an early warning system, spill notifications and sensor devices placed upstream of us at specific mile markers all the way to the inception of the Ohio River and beyond. One thing that we have that they didn’t have in Charleston is a secondary source: our well source. We continue to keep the well vibrant. In the event of a spill we would simply shut the water down from the river intake and switch to well water.”

Mastrantoni added that while technology does help, people should trust their human senses of sight, smell and taste. Residents of Charleston described a licorice smell coming from the water before the leak was discovered.

In other business, Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh brought up community frustrations about this winter’s frequent snow.

“We have to take a neighbor-to-neighbor approach here. Our guys are out there plowing, and, yeah, maybe there’s some snow at the end of your driveway. Let’s just work together instead of fighting with each other over this,” Marsh said. “Let’s just get through it.”

Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel took the opportunity to remind residents they are responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks in front of their houses.

“I’d like to commend Mr. Brown and his employees for the excellent work they’ve done during some very trying conditions in the past month or so,” Ward 2 Councilman Charles Wright said. “I appreciate the job you’ve done.”

“It’s been 24/7 these past few weeks that these guys have been out on the road, and they deserve some appreciation,” Public Works Director John Brown said.

Although Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple and Ward 1 Councilman Ronnie D. Jones were absent from the meeting, members otherwise voted unanimously to pass several ordinances.

Council members opted to move forward with the property and liability insurance quote solicited from Travelers Insurance Co., which was discussed at the Finance Committee meeting last Wednesday. The coverage includes property insurance with a $1,000 deductible, general liability with no deductible and employee benefits with a $3 million limit. The city’s premium was quoted at $685,407, according to John Frankovitch, chief operating officer of Assure America.

Members also passed resolutions authorizing acceptance of the application contract for West Virginia Governor’s Community Participation Program funds and entering into a contract for tree removal services on Mound Street and Adams Street.

Council members also approved an ordinance establishing new contracts and salaries for Weirton firefighters. The contracts were discussed by council during an executive session Monday, during which time pending litigation concerning former Fire Chief David Lashhorn also was brought up.

Library director Rik Rekowski informed everyone present that the Mary H. Weir Public Library is offering free income tax preparation thanks to Catholic Charities West Virginia every Saturday through April 12 in an effort to bring IRS tax refunds back into the community. The service is by appointment only but is open to anyone who makes less than $51,000 annually. To schedule an appointment, call (304) 527-7140.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at sdalrymple@heraldstaronline.com)