Wintertime means overtime for EP?workers

EAST PALESTINE – The village’s street crew has logged 264 hours of overtime since November, translating to $6,600 paid out to full- and part-time employees.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said the “horrible winter” has made for a “taxing season so far” but he is proud of the “exceptional job” the crew has done.

The crew spent additional hours clearing the streets of snow and ice that brought the village to a near standstill on some days. The school district has canceled classes eight days already this year because of the weather and is required to make up three of those days, since the state allows only five.

Superintendent George Fisk said the Ohio Department of Education has approved the board’s request to allow for “blizzard bags,” which are alternative makeup days.

Should the district cancel classes later this year it can use blizzard bags for up to three days, but no more. After that additional days must be tacked onto the school year.

The blizzard bags allow teachers to post assignments online when school is not in session and students can access those assignments through the district’s website,

Fisk said he is keeping an eye on legislation that would give Ohio districts up to four additional calamity days for the remainder of this school year.

The Ohio House is preparing to vote on the legislation soon.

Meanwhile, Monteleone isn’t worried the village will run out of salt should more snow and ice lay ahead.

“I think we are in pretty decent shape at this time and hopefully we’ll stay that way,” he said.

Monteleone presented an annual report to council this week, and according to the report the street department maintains 27 centerline miles of street and 91,020-feet of storm sewer and 750 catch basins.

The report also included annual reports from other departments, and Police Chief Kevin Dickey said in his report the department used K9 Toney 71 times in 2013.

He said the police dog is a contributing factor to the increase in drug arrests, which has simultaneously resulted in a decrease in thefts, burglaries, and breaking and entering. Toney was used 39 times for traffic stops, two tracks in town, eight times for school-related matters, 17 mutual aid assists for other departments and performed five public demonstrations.

The female K9 also participated in 24 in-service training sessions. Her handler is Sgt. Don Johnson.

“The credit in the decline in crime belongs mostly to the police officers and dispatchers of the East Palestine Police Department,” Dickey wrote in the report. “As I have said before, they are the ones who get the job done. It is through their dedication, hard work and commitment to their jobs we have seen a decrease in crime and increase in enforcement efforts.”

Fire Chief Brett Todd said in his report the fire department is still dealing with a manpower shortage and 2013 incidents were up 10 percent compared to 2012.

As a result of the lack of manpower the department requested mutual aid on 39 ambulance calls, he said.

“Shortage of personnel is an ongoing problem. The department has gained a few members but also lost a few leaving us still understaffed,” he said.

In January of this year the department responded to 23 calls, 13 of which were in the village while six were in Unity Township, and four were mutual aid calls with New Waterford.