Pole problem coming to light

EAST PALESTINE – Another light has gone out in East Palestine.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said Ohio Edison took down a light pole on North Market Street that was only one block away from the one that fell in February.

The light pole was taken out of service because, like the other one, it had a rusted out base and was deteriorating from age, he said.

The utility company was inspecting the poles along North Market Street to determine whether they need to be replaced like many village officials have claimed.

“They took a preemptive strike,” Monteleone said of the removal of the second pole that was near the old Shamrock restaurant.

The first pole was in front of the village administrative offices and was removed because it was falling toward the street and posing a safety hazard.

Monteleone said the poles have been in bad shape for a long time, but the village hasn’t had the money to replace them and there aren’t any grants available.

The 40 to 50 poles along the main stretch through town are owned by Ohio Edison but the village is responsible for paying for their replacement.

Monteleone said the poles would cost roughly $5,000 each to replace, meaning the village would need to come up with $200,000 to $250,000.

He and other village officials have met with David Turner, the company’s local representative, on more than one occasion to discuss their options.

A feasible option hasn’t been found yet, Monteleone said.

At a recent council meeting he admitted the process has been frustrating, but later said that the company is willing to work with them to find some kind of solution has been encouraging.

The company is working on a final quote for the light replacements and should be presenting that soon, he said.

Turner was contacted on Wednesday and confirmed the company has conducted studies of the light poles in town.

“I am working with Pete Monteleone on a plan for the downtown business district. We are looking at the street lights and what the village can do,” he said.

When asked how much the pole replacements would cost, he said a hard estimate is still being determined.

In the meantime, Monteleone and village officials were hoping to hang banners from the existing poles, but that has been held up as well.

“We thought we were making ground,” he said of the possibility of hanging the banners that were put up in town several years ago.

The plan was halted after he discovered the Ohio Edison contract required for doing so included a $75 processing fee, plus a $25 processing fee per pole.

The one-time fees would amount to more than $1,000, he said.

Mayor Margo Zuch has said the company didn’t think the poles could handle the weight of the banners, which was why they were taken down years ago.

Monteleone said the brown and white banners would add some East Palestine pride to the downtown area and would go well with a plan already under way.

That plan is to replace existing green and white street signs from Garfield to Taggart, including Main, Market and Grant streets, with oversized brown and white signs.

Monteleone said the signs have already been ordered from a local company and cost less than it would to replace the existing ones.

The street department has already begun sanding and painting the street poles brown and the new signs should be up in the next week or two, he said.

“It will show some uniformity and pride in the downtown and get something going with very little money,” he said.

Brown and white are the colors of the East Palestine School District.