Council President Mr. Martin called the March 22, 2021 meeting to order at 7:30 PM. If you aren’t a member of council please mute your computer so it will cut down the background noise. Due to COVID-19 our council meetings are being conducted through ZOOM. The roll was called with the following members present: Mrs. Drake, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Gant, Mr. Locke, Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Shutts present. Also present was Mayor Lorentz, Safety Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell, and City Law Director Mr. Webster. Absent from the March 22, 2021 meeting was City Auditor Miss Pittenger, Treasurer Mrs. Copeland, Council person Ms. Riffle and Clerk of Council Mrs. Meredith.
Council President Mr. Martin asked that everyone please rise for the Prayer and remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Lorentz gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
President of Council Mr. Martin welcomed all members of council back to Council Chambers.
A motion was made by Mrs. Drake to by-pass the reading of the March 08, 2021 minutes and accept as presented. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Reports of City Officials:
Mayor Lorentz reported that the Service Director and I zoomed in with Burgess and Niple Representatives to discuss long range transportation needs for our city. They along with the WWW are trying to better plan for our transportation needs, roads and bridges, etc.
Friday March 12th we met with the County Commissioners to discuss the sewer line project for Belpre and the next steps to make it happen. The commission is on board with providing support in any way.
We have hired a parks person for the summer to help eliminate overtime for mowing and free up the street department employees.
Thanks to our Fire Department for representing Belpre at the Annual Easter Parade. From the news coverage it looks like a huge success. Again, thanks Chief Cronin.
The Belpre Area Veterans are sponsoring the Support the Blue Program in our city. All of council has the flyer and a copy went with my report to the newspaper. The formal lighting of our entire city is May 9th at 8:30 PM. You may purchase a blue bulb any Saturday in April in the parking lot beside the Senior Center.
My report is short tonight as I wanted to save time for Ms. Connie Huntsman from the O’Neill Center a few minutes then Jesse Roush from the Port Authority to discuss our economic development plan for the city.
Ms. Connie Huntsman from the O’Neill Center addressed council. She stated that in the beginning of March the Belpre Senior Center received a new logo. She talked about the Belpre Senior Center and the time the O’Neill Center entered into the City of Belpre. This was back in 2008 and talked about where we are today in 2021. The building was much smaller at that time. There has been a lot of work done to bring it to where it is today. There was a levy passed when Mrs. Casto was director.
In the Year 2008 along with Year 2020 was actual years I wanted to throw out. In 2008 was the start-up and in 2020 when we had the start of the COVID pandemic. There has been a range of significant growth that actually doubled in participants in 2019. The number of seniors have increased over the number of years.
We count the number of visits at the Belpre Center. Prior to 2019 the participation was significantly lower. In 2019 there were at least 22,000 visits. We have been able to continue to steadily grow. It has taken both the Belpre Senior Center and the O’Neill Center to make this happen. The largest growth came with socialization. That came about with just playing cards or chair volleyball. The program increased in fitness. The O’Neill has really worked hard not to increase funding. We are not asking for an increase in 2021.
Some of our accomplishments in 2020 included the United Way Alliance Grants, Partnership with the Health System, Census 2020, etc. Services have made a difference. We advocated on a regular basis at the State Level. We provided wellness calls to those staying at home and saw that their needs were met. We provided food and security. We worked with restaurants and delivered restaurant meals. There were approximately 10,000 meals delivered to senior homes. We purchased groceries and assembled 640 boxes within the county. This allowed our seniors to stay at home as recommended especially for those who had underlying health conditions. We also worked with local food pantries and made deliveries as well as local pharmacies. I’m happy to say that we are continuing these things even now that we are open.
There are virtual programs that we have that is essential to seniors.
The O’Neill Center worked with the National Institute of Senior Centers that included Belpre and our National Accreditation. Two weeks ago we were advised that we received the National Accreditation again. We are very happy to include Belpre in that. We feel that is very important and prestige’s.
I would like to share a poem with you by Mother Teresa. It is as follows: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
The O’Neill Center along with the City of Belpre are helping community partners, our friends and our neighbors and the lives of those served.
Jesse Roush, Executive Director of the Port Authority addressed the final draft of the City of Belpre Economic Development Strategy as of March 2021. The goal of the project was to give us a deliverable resource from a qualified 3rd party to do an assessment as to where we are today and giving us resources as we move forward.
The main goal of the Economic Strategy is to plan a path to improving the economic wellbeing of the community through efforts that entail job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements and quality of life. As there is no single definition for economic development, there is no single strategy, policy, or program for achieving successfully economic development. Communities differ in their geographic and political strengths and weaknesses. Each community, therefore, will have a unique set of approaches for economic development. Section 1 gives an Executive Summary of the Plan, Section 2 gives Existing Conditions, Section 3 gives the Economic Development Strategy, Section 4 gives the Targeted Strategies and Action Plan, and Section 5 is the Appendices.
A copy of the City of Belpre Economic Development Strategy is on file in Council Chambers.
Mayor Lorentz acknowledged Riley Hanna that was involved with the CIC and the excellent job she did. Mayor Lorentz would like her to be a part of the River Front Development Committee.
Mr. Ferguson asked if this was assessable on the cities website. He was informed that it would be. Mrs. Hoblitzell also has an additional copy of the plan.
Mrs. Miller asked if we have a contract with them. She was informed that the contract was signed October 14, 2019 in regular council meeting. Safety-Service Director Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that she spoke with Mark Erwin with Dominion and they are going to begin working on the gas line from George Street Extension to Washington Boulevard.
The west side water project is coming right along.
We have submitted for our CSX permit to bore under the railroad track. We are waiting on getting that back.
We talked with Civic Plus regarding our website. Not sure how long it will take. Informed them as to what we are wanting.
Meeting with Michelle and commissioners tomorrow to go over what kind of funding we can get for the sewer project from the county meter to the waste water treatment plant.
In connection with the CIC we are trying to come up with AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING RIVER FRONT DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE.
City Auditor Miss Pittenger was absent. No report was given in her absence.
City Law Director Mr. Webster had no report.
City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland was absent. No report was given in her absence.
Mrs. Drake stated in the absence of the City Treasurer Mrs. Copeland I would like to make a motion to accept the corrected Treasurer’s Report for the month of February. Mr. Martin stated that January and February had the same exact information and that is why we are approving a corrected Treasurer’s Report for the month of February. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Communications and Petitions: none
Report of Standing Committee:
Mr. Ferguson Finance/Audit Committee had no report.
Mr. Gant, Police and Fire Committee had no report.
Ms. Riffle Streets, Sidewalks and Storm Sewer was absence. No report was given in her absence.
Mrs. Drake Utilities Committee had no report this evening.
Mr. Shutts, Parks and Recreation Committee had no report. Mr. Shutts stated that the new tables at the parks sure made a difference. Mr. Martin stated that they were working on ballfields this past weekend.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee reported that his committee met this evening at 6:30 PM. All members of council were in attendance. We received in-depth information about Golf Carts, inspections and requirements from the Ohio Revised Code and Belpre’s proposal. The discussion centered on safety and possible liabilities to the City around inspections. Also discussion around “Side by Sides” on City streets was held. Those vehicles are not any part of this Ordinance. I stated I would meet with our Law Director to start on an Ordinance regarding golf carts.
Mr. Locke Planning and Zoning Committee reported that this committee met at 7:00 PM to discuss changing C-3 zoning to exclude single family dwellings, and add multiple family housing, also to change/remove the reference about signs in the Ordinance. I will meet with our Law Director to hammer out the details on these changes. I am in hopes to have these two ordinances in place and present to council very soon. All members of council present were in attendance.
Mr. Locke Economic Development Committee had no report.
Mrs. Miller Rules Committee had no report.
Persons Appearing Before Council – Agenda items only. None
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION SUPPLEMENTING YEAR 2021 APPROPRIATIONS. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
Mrs. Drake brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO EXECUTE A CONTRACT WITH THE WASHINGTON SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
Mr. Ferguson brought before council for second reading A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF THE BELPRE SENIOR CENTER. Mrs. Miller stated that she was informed that there was food spoilage at the senior center and that you might need to look at the management at the center. Mrs. Hoblitzell stated that it had nothing to do with management. It had to do with the freezer that was housing all the meat. The freezer quit working and was not freezing. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye. This will lie over until the next meeting of council.
NEW BUSINESS: none
PERSONS APPEARING BEFORE COUNCIL:
William Cassidy 824 Belrock Avenue addressed council about missing the first 15 minutes of the meeting as he was having problems logging on. He wanted to make council aware of this.
Mr. Locke stated that the picnic tables really stand out at the parks and the ballfields look good.
Mr. Locke made a motion to excuse Ms. Riffle from this evenings meeting. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.
Mr. Gant asked Mrs. Hoblitzell about the Gas Aggregation Program and about the timeline. He was informed that the rate is 3.03 for the next three years. Mr. Gant asked if the person/persons answering the calls were notified that the City of Belpre is on the Aggregation Program. He was informed that they should have been informed.
Mr. Locke stated that if anyone has any questions regarding golf carts to please email him. His email address is listed on the cities website.
Mayor Lorentz stated that he doesn’t like the building being closed however he needs to follow the advice of the Health Board. I want to do everything I can to protect the people in this building.
Mrs. Miller stated that she is having issues with her email. If you have anything you want to send me please send to kellycox@Suddenlink.net.
Mrs. Drake made a motion to adjourn at 8:18 PM. A vote was taken with all members of council present voting aye.