Belpre Council notified about loss of paid EMTs

BELPRE – A representative with the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department notified city administrators and council members on Monday there will no longer be paid emergency medical technicians (EMT)/firefighters with the department as of Nov. 1.

During the city council meeting, Eric Sinnett II, president of the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, presented a written letter which stated EMT services would no longer be provided between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays due to financial reasons.

“We promised to provide written notification with a two-month notice and here it is,” said Sinnett.

During the July 8 council meeting, Sinnett told council the department will soon have to drop its four EMT/firefighters because there soon will no longer be funds available to pay them.

The department has employed at least two EMT/firefighters for more than 15 years at no cost to the city or residents, but the closure of the department’s daily instant ticket fundraiser in May 2012 has caused a financial strain.

Councilwoman Susan Abdella suggested representatives of city administration, council and the community create a committee with open minds to work together and find a solution.

“I believe, that to make this community better and move forward is to work together with open minds and open discussions,” she said. “I don’t want to wait until Oct. 31 before we find a solution.”

Mayor Mike Lorentz said the issue is administrative.

“The issue is finances,” he said.

Council President Will Neff said even with a committee of this “commingled group” working on a solution, the decision is ultimately up to council.

“I have no objection to appointing a committee to research this, but the decision still rests on our shoulders,” Neff said. “Between now and the next time (council) meet, we can do a little soul searching and come back together with some ideas and direction.”

More discussion will likely take place during the next council meeting on Aug. 26.

In other business

  • Lorentz said construction on the project to widen Farson Street near U.S. 50/Ohio 7 began Monday and people are not following signs.

“People are already going around the barricades with the road closed,” he said. “Closed means closed and it is dangerous to jump the blocks.

“Please pay attention. I don’t want to have to post a (police) officer there, but I will if I have to.”

Shelley and Sands Construction began work Monday on the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) project to build turning lanes for easier access to businesses in the area, including the Marietta Memorial Hospital Health Bridge Medical Park facility.

  • Council passed the final reading of an ordinance to allow the city to provide natural gas aggregation.

Council previously held two public hearings and the first two readings of the legislation.

Last August the city’s electric aggregation program began as provided by DPL Energy Resources and organized by Volunteer Energy, which is the city’s partner for the two energy-savings programs.

Although DPL Energy Resources offers the electric program to the city through Volunteer Energy, there will be no third party with the natural gas, as Volunteer Energy is the supplier of that resource.

Following the final reading, the project will go before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for approval.

The rate for the natural gas will be the New York Mercantile Exchange price plus 60 cents per 1,000 cubic foot.

In November 2011, Belpre voters passed the opt-out programs, which have the potential to save residents money if they choose to go with the city for these bills.