City of St. Clairsville

Council Meeting Minutes-February 5, 2024

Posted on March 4th, 2024 by

Once approved, a link to the official council minutes will be at the bottom.

The meeting was called to order by Council President Jim Velas at 7:00 pm. President Velas led Council in the Pledge of Allegiance. Members of the public were thanked for their attendance.


Butler                   HERE                                     Thrash                  HERE 

Lipscomb           HERE                                         Vincenzo            HERE

Murzyn               HERE                                               West                HERE

Smith                   HERE

Seven (7) Present                                        Zero (0) Absent

MINUTES: Council President Jim Velas confirmed all Councilmembers received the minutes from the February 5th Council Meeting. Councilwoman Lipscomb made a motion to approve the minutes from February 5, 2024, Council Meeting; motion seconded by Councilwoman West.


Butler              YES                                        Thrash             YES   

Lipscomb        YES                                        Vincenzo         YES

Murzyn            YES                                        West                YES

Smith               YES

Roll Call Vote:    Seven (7) YES    Zero (0) NO    Zero (0) ABSTAIN    Zero (0) ABSENT

Motion Carried  


CITIZEN HEARING: County Court Judge Adama Myser addressed the Council regarding a proposed outreach program that the County Courts will establish to assist non-profit organizations and local governments in finding community service assistance. Additionally, Judge Myser requested the Council’s permission to organize a Run for Justice 5K on Saturday, April 27th, 2024, at 8:00 am, starting from the Belmont County Court Courthouse located at 52160 National Rd. and ending at the Main Belmont County Courthouse at 101 W. Main St. The route will follow National Rd/Route 40 the entire way. The goal of the event is to raise funds to support local legal, educational programs and local government, and it is open to the whole county, especially courthouse members and staff, county government employees, city and municipality employees, elected officials, county bar associations, and all countywide law enforcement.

Councilwoman Butler made a motion to approve Judge Myser’s request for approval of the Run for Justice 5K, seconded by Councilwoman Lipscomb.


Butler              YES                                        Thrash             YES   

Lipscomb        YES                                        Vincenzo         YES

Murzyn            YES                                        West                YES

Smith               YES

Roll Call Vote:    Seven (7) YES    Zero (0) NO    Zero (0) ABSTAIN    Zero (0) ABSENT

Motion Carried  



Mayor Kathryn Thalman [ABSENT] No report.

Service/Safety Director Jeremy Greenwood provided an update on various projects and issues within the city. He reported that there was one piece of legislation to be discussed at the meeting and that there had been some debate about its necessity due to its unique situation. Mr. Greenwood then provided updates on several ongoing projects, including a new well pad to be installed on an unnamed road, water line breaks and replacements, completion of the Route 40 water line (with some remaining work to be done in the spring), progress on the water distribution project (including installation of water lines on Orchard and Locust Lane), and repairs needed for several culverts and sinkholes. Mr. Greenwood also provided updates on departmental activities, including ongoing work by the electric department, water and wastewater monitoring and repairs, smoke testing, and culvert cameraing. The street department was busy with potholes, culvert repairs, and sinkhole repairs, while the recreation department was revising restroom plans and working on a junior fair set drawing. Finally, Mr. Greenwood shared some good news: the city had received additional funding for the flight trial project, which will repair, renovate, and add wing walls to a tunnel. The increased budget of 3.3 million will cover all commitments and alternates for the project. Greenwood also mentioned that there was legislation to be discussed later in the meeting and offered to explain further.

Police Chief Matt Arbenz Lieutenant TJ Stewart reported that they responded to 375 calls and complaints. He clarified that this number might seem high, but it’s probably only half of what they actually respond to since many of them are documented the same way. He also mentioned that they are in good shape in all other ways. If anyone has any questions, he has everything broken down and can provide more information. 

Finance Director Annette Whealdon reported that she is working on the permanent Budget and will hopefully have it for the council to review soon.

Planning & Zoning Administrator Tom Murphy reported that the stormwater quality board had met and approved the stormwater management plan for the Trinity site. Trinity also received their permit from the city and their state building permit from Ohio last week. They plan to mobilize the week of February 12th, weather permitting and hope to start seeing their first patients by May 2025. Although they have some long-term plans for the site, more concrete has yet to be set in motion. The grant for Thompson Drive through ODOT, which would help fund the reclamation of that road, was submitted last week. If successful, the funds could be utilized for that purpose. It’s the same grant applied for last year and has already been received for North Sugar Street. While it’s always challenging to get funding again, they will do their best. Horizon Telecom proposes extending fiber to two locations and has requested permission to locate new broadband fiber on utility poles owned by the city to improve service for various businesses and locations in St. Clairsville. Don Smithberg has reviewed the proposals and is satisfied with their proposal. Plaza West is one location where they plan to extend their fiber by approximately 2000 linear feet, and Cedar Ridge, Behavioral Health Solutions, is the other, located at 118 West Main Street, where they plan to extend fiber by approximately 700 linear feet, touching a total of eight poles. The council requires no action, but Horizon will request approval at the meeting on February 20th. Additionally, a new attorney, Cheryl Shaw, has purchased the building at 112 West Main Street, which Charlie Bean previously occupied. They plan to have as many as four attorneys in the structure and operate a land management company, Terra, LLC.


Finance Chair Don Vincenzo No report.

Utilities Chair Terra Butler reported that at the Utility Meeting, they went over the billing utility report and talked with a customer who had concerns about their water usage.

Police Chair Mike Smith reported discussing specific equipment the police department might need. Some of this equipment could be used flexibly, and there was talk about getting corporate sponsors to help pay for it. Although some businesses have expressed interest in providing financial support, more is needed, so they need to keep working on it. The primary focus of the meeting was to discuss the necessary equipment.

Streets – North Side Chair Terra Butler No report.

Streets – South Side Chair JC Thrash No report.

Safety Chair JC Thrash No report.

Buildings and Grounds Chair Don Vincenzo No report.

Planning Commission Chair Kristi Lipscomb Councilwoman Lipscomb reported that she is a member of the Dora committee. The committee met on January 23rd after several prior meetings and communications with various DORA communities. The committee requests council approval for Mr. Murphy and Mr. Vavra to jointly create a plan application for the mayor to consider applying for a DORA permit. The proposed days and hours for the permit are Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. While these are tentative days and hours, the committee is open to discussing them further with the council. Based on their discussions with different communities, the committee believes that having a Dora in the uptown area will promote new business growth. The committee also discussed possibly limiting the DORA, as some other communities have done. However, after speaking with several places, they found that those communities wished they had yet to implement such restrictions. Every community had initial fears about the Dora leading to drunk people in the area, but they found that it did not occur. For example, Port Clinton had over 20 empty storefronts before establishing a DORA. Still, within two years of implementation, they had no empty storefronts and have maintained that success for several years. While some citizens may be concerned about the DORA, the committee believes it will benefit the city. If any issues arise, Councilwoman Lipscomb states that she will be the first to raise concerns at a council meeting and consider doing away with the DORA if it does not work out as intended. Police Chief Arbenz also favors the DORA, believing it will help the city. However, details still need to be ironed out, which will be Mr. Murphy’s responsibility.

Mr. Murphy proposed that the council provide guidance on the hours for the DORA Committee. He suggested that the council review the hours presented by the committee and provide feedback. Once the hours are determined, guidelines related to the location and stickers can be decided. Mr. Murphy has been working closely with Mr. Vara and proposed a framework that Mr. Vavra could review to ensure that the state’s requirements are met. Mr. Vavra would handle the legal perspective on how the requirements should be met, including public hearings and other legal procedures that need to be followed before the city can adopt and implement the DORA plan.

Councilman Murzyn moved to approve the proposed hours for the DORA Committee. The proposed hours are Sundays from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, from red light to red light, and to direct the staff to begin the requirements to apply for a DORA permit, seconded by Councilman Vincenzo.


Butler              ABSTAIN                              Thrash             YES   

Lipscomb        YES                                        Vincenzo         YES

Murzyn            YES                                        West                YES

Smith               YES

Roll Call Vote:    Six (6) YES    Zero (0) NO    One (1) ABSTAIN    Zero (0) ABSENT

Motion Carried  

Fire Chair Mike Smith reported that the Fire Board had met and everything appeared to be going well with the fire department. They provided statistics for the last three years and were able to give the latest figure of around 5,000 calls, which is quite impressive. The finances were also good, and the reports were reviewed during the meeting. Additionally, the Belmont County Cares Program was also discussed, which is a community outreach program that provides various services. Officer Stewart is familiar with the program, so if anyone has any questions, they can reach out to him. Councilman Smith also expressed his intention to provide more information about the program during the next meeting. Finally, he highlighted that it was fortunate to have a good fire and police department in a small community like theirs.

Recreation Chair Kristi Lipscomb informed everyone that there is an open position on the Rec Board, a Mayor’s appointment. The Mayor was supposed to report this, but since she was absent, anyone interested in filling the vacant position can submit a letter to Mayor Thalman. Please note that this is a volunteer position and does not offer any pay. The next meeting is scheduled for February 15th at 4:30 PM at the Rec Center. Eric is currently finalizing the list of summer concerts, and he assured everyone that it will be ready for the next meeting on the 15th.

Park District Chair Lucian Murzyn reported that the park board had a meeting where they discussed the installation of new cameras in 16 locations in the park, which is an excellent idea. They also discussed the possibility of renovating the pool house, but a final decision had yet to be made.

ORDINANCES & RESOLUTIONS: Law Director Joseph Vavra

Donnie Smithberger spoke to the council and explained that contractors were working in the area due to the construction of a new AEP and updates to the 69 line and substation. To allow them to work safely, the city had shut down the west circuit that ran parallel to the line. However, there needed to be more clarity with the contractors, who cut our power lines without the city’s knowledge. They removed the poles and wires, causing a lot of damage. After discussing the matter with everyone involved, the contractors agreed to pay for all the damages, and the city would rebuild the circuit, which the contractors would reimburse. The city had received two estimates from contractors, and they had tentatively chosen Premier for $98,000 instead of the other one, which was $198,000. The chosen contractor was out of work and eager to start the project. The circuit was critical to servicing the entire town, especially with the changing seasons and the additional loads that were coming on. Therefore, the council was asked to allow the contractor to begin the work, and everyone agreed that the parties involved would reimburse the city for all materials, labor, hours spent, and legal expenses.



Councilwoman Lipscomb made a motion to approve Ordinance No. 2024-02

After further questions, it was determined that there needed to be a written agreement between the City and AEP regarding reimbursement of funds.

Councilwoman Lipscomb withdrew her motion and asked the Law Director to investigate this situation further.

Citizens Hearing

Clay Thomas of Martha Drive addressed the Council about the National Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. He asked the Council to consider creating an enforceable, punitive city code for the ordinance to prohibit animal abuse.

Law Director Vavra informed Mr. Thomas that there are currently

laws in the state that protect animals from abuse, and I would be happy to provide those statutes if requested.

ADJOURNMENT: With no further business to come before Council, Councilman Thrash made a motion to adjourn; seconded by Councilman Smith. The meeting was adjourned at 7:48 P.M. The next meeting will be Monday, February 20, 2024, at 7:00 P.M. All Councilmembers will be present at the City Building for the next meeting. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting in the Council Chambers.