Retired firefighter lauded at council meeting

Marietta firefighter and EMT Tom Reebel, who retired this week after nearly 32 years with the city fire department, was honored during Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting.

“Tom has been a leader without rank for many years-he’s always been a person that younger firefighters in the department could go to-a mentor,” said Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.

He said Reebel has set the bar very high for the next generation of firefighters and has been a confidant that the chief himself could always count on.

Fire Capt. Jack Hansis added that it was an honor to have served with Reebel for more than 30 years.

“His retirement will leave a gap in the department-it takes a long time to learn this city as well as its people,” Hansis said.

The council members echoed those comments, expressing their appreciation for Reebel’s service.

“But I have to thank my wife,” Reebel said in response. “I couldn’t have done any of this without her standing by me.”

Reebel joined the Marietta Fire Department in July 1981.

In other business Thursday, city development director Andy Coleman reported he had received a letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stating that Marietta’s 2013 Community Development Block Grant entitlement would be $345,743.

“That’s a nearly 3 percent increase over last year’s entitlement of $336,366,” Coleman said.

The CDBG funding is used for a variety of projects, including $65,000 of this year’s entitlement that will help cover the citywide 2013 asphalt paving program at a total cost of more than $544,000. The city has also applied for $400,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission to help pay for the 2013 program.

Marietta Police Chief Brett McKitrick also announced Thursday that civil service testing had been completed and 21 names had been submitted to fill three patrolman positions.

McKitrick said that number had been narrowed to 10, but one of the top candidates was hired by the Parkersburg Police Department. He said the department will be reviewing the remaining nine candidates for new hires.

Also on Thursday, council approved agreements with the Washington County Commissioners and Morgan County Commissioners to help fund the annual operation and maintenance of two new high-tech flood warning gauges installed on the Ohio and Muskingum rivers.

Finance committee chairman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, noted Washington County would contribute $2,400 annually, and Morgan County $800 a year toward the operation and maintenance cost. He said the remaining annual cost of $8,800 would be covered by the city of Marietta.

Council also approved a resolution of support for an application by the Southeast Ohio Port Authority for funds to conduct a Phase II Environmental Assessment of the former Sperry Remington/Kardex Systems facility at 900 Greene St.

The 11.5-acre former industrial site, currently owned by Two Rivers Development and managed by Promanco Inc., has been used for the last couple of years as a storage facility for tons of sand used in the horizontal hydraulic fracturing shale gas extraction industry.

SEOPA executive director Terri Tamburini has said the authority would like to apply for the environmental study funds through the Clean Ohio Assistance Program to help determine whether the property could be redeveloped for multiple uses.

On Thursday John Walsh with Two Rivers Development said the facility is a very old landmark in Marietta.

“It’s a massive structure that has needed a lot of work,” he said. “We have done work on the property and have worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency which has led to a voluntary action program to restore the property.”

He said the application for Clean Ohio Assistance funding would enable Two Rivers to completely understand whether there may be any issues that could hinder future development of the property.

Also on Thursday, council approved applications from Austyn’s Restaurant on Front Street and The Original Pizza Place on Second Street for 5-year permits to place tables and chairs on city sidewalks for their customers.

The permits are $150 for the first year, and $1 for the remaining four years, for a total of $154 each.

On a related note, Denver Abicht, D-at large, who chairs council’s streets and transportation committee, said a public meeting is scheduled June 17 at 7 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park to discuss the city code regulating sidewalk permits.

He said council is considering some changes to help clarify the current legislation governing use of the city’s sidewalks, and hopes there will be plenty of participation from merchants as well as the general community at the June 17 session.