Replacing pole remains a problem for East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE – An orange caution cone and sawhorse remain on North Market Street where an aging utility pole broke away from its base in late January.

The cone and sawhorse on the sidewalk near the village administrative offices are to keep pedestrians from walking into what remains of the former Ohio Edison pole before it fell toward the road as a result of a rusted-out base.

When and how the pole will be replaced is yet to be determined and village officials are continuing to work with Ohio Edison to see what can be done.

In his report to council Monday, Village Manager Pete Monteleone said David Turner, his contact at Ohio Edison, advised him that someone from the company will reinspect all the poles along North Market Street this week.

“I continue to reiterate the importance of something being done in East Palestine to enhance our downtown area,” Monteleone said.

While the roughly 50 poles along the main street through town are owned by Ohio Edison, the village is responsible for the cost of purchasing new ones.

Monteleone has said there isn’t enough money available to buy all new poles and that replacing the one that fell would be about $5,000 alone.

He and Turner have met more than once to discuss the matter and he said Councilman Don Elzer recently suggested the village contact state Sen. Joe Schiavoni for assistance.

Monteleone and other village officials are scheduled to meet with Schiavoni and Turner next week to come up with a “feasible solution,” he said.

In the meantime he is continuing to seek out possible grant funding for new poles.

In other business, the fire department was recently awarded $121,000 in federal grant money for the purchase of new air packs that will replace the 18 ones the department has used the last 20 years.

The money will also buy two new thermal imaging cameras and rapid intervention equipment.

Fire Chief Brett Todd said the department applied for the FEMA funding in July of 2012. The department already has two thermal imaging cameras but they are both more than 20 years old and one is out of service.

He said the changes in technology between the new and old cameras are like “night and day.”

The cameras allow firefighters to see through smoke while inside or around a burning structure, and also in the dark, and provide for more adequate detection of people in distress, he explained.

“It’s a very big (asset) to have in a fire,” he said.

The rapid intervention equipment is for use in the event that a firefighter becomes incapacitated on a call an can’t be reached by other firefighters immediately.

For example, if the firefighter falls through a floor or a roof, the equipment will allow the remaining firefighters to provide an air supplement hook up to the stranded person so they can continue to breathe while the rescue takes place, Todd said.