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Cemetery vandalism, Davis resignation top village agenda

January 16, 2013
Morning Journal News

WELLSVILLE - Concerns over the remedy for 288 graves that were vandalized at Spring Hill Cemetery in Wellsville were addressed during a village council meeting held Tuesday evening.

Councilwoman Rosie Goss, who serves as chair of the Property, Equipment and Cemetery Committee, said that touring Spring Hill to view the damage done during a Dec. 27 vandalism spree had nearly made her ill and left her wondering at the lack of conscience in the perpetrators. Every section of the cemetery except for St. Elizabeth's, was affected by the crime. "If you don't have any respect for the living, please have respect for the dead," she said.

Goss then offered to donate her spare time over the next week in assisting cemetery superintendent Mike Lombardozzi with the tasks of contacting local funeral homes and tracking down distant family members who may not yet be aware of the damages to a loved one's headstone.

Councilwoman Diane Dinch and Mayor Susan Haugh also volunteered their spare time to the effort. "The list is complete, and we are going to start making phone calls, as well as sending out letters," Mayor Haugh said. "It's going to take a joint effort from all of us."

Village administrator Thom Edgell said that any assistance with the above work will be greatly appreciated. In addition to the herculean task of counting and mapping all of the toppled and damaged headstones, Edgell said burials have continued at the cemetery, and Lombardozzi has had to keep up with his regular administrative and management duties as well.

Dinch asked Village solicitor Andy Beech about liability for the damages incurred in the cemetery. He stated his understanding that a headstone marking a grave is the property of the family of the deceased buried in that plot. Though the plot may be located inside the cemetery, which is municipal property, the plot itself is owned by the family. "How those are being handled now, I'm not aware," he said.

Fact Box

Davis resigned before he could be fired


WELLSVILLE - Former Wellsville fiscal officer Dale Davis resigned from his position with the village moments before council was set to vote on his termination, according to the minutes from a Jan. 12 meeting approved by Wellsville Village Council at its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The minutes from the special meeting held at 6 p.m. last Saturday state that, following a 17-minute executive session attended by village Mayor Susan Haugh, village solicitor Andy Beech and council members, Haugh recommended that council take up the termination of Davis.

Councilman Tony Cataldo moved to accept Haugh's recommendation, with councilman Don Brown seconding. It was during discussion of the motion that Davis "asked that council consider accepting his resignation," according to the minutes.

Davis' request prompted another break into executive session, this time for nine minutes. As with the first, Davis did not participate.

Following council's return to regular session, Cataldo moved to rescind the motion to terminate Davis' employment. Brown seconded the motion, which was unanimously accepted. Councilwoman Diane Dinch then moved to accept Davis' resignation, effective immediately following the meeting, with councilman John Morrow seconding.

It too was unanimously accepted, after which the meeting adjourned at 6:36 p.m.

Dinch stated that she has been in contact with insurance agent Shelly Abdalla, who counseled that some homeowner's insurance policies include coverage of family burial plots, and that people who have discovered such damage should consult their respective policies. "Every insurance company is going to be different, every policy is going to be different, so nobody really knows until they contact their insurance," Dinch said.

Dinch asked Wellsville Police Lieutenant Ed Wilson, who was in attendance, about the status of the vandalism case. He replied that a suspect has been arraigned and is currently in jail awaiting trial. Jacob Lowther, 19, of East Liverpool, was arraigned on charges of felony vandalism on Jan. 8. Though other suspects have been interviewed, Wilson said no other charges have yet been made.

Conspicuous by his absence at the meeting was former village fiscal officer Dale Davis, who resigned from his position with the village during a special council meeting held Jan. 12. The Review attempted to contact Davis for comment on his resignation, with no response. (See sidebar)

Personnel Committee chairman Tony Cataldo moved for the removal of Davis as fiscal officer and the temporary appointment of assistant fiscal officer Cassie Bloor to fill the position. It was unanimously approved. So too was a motion to remove Davis' name from village banking accounts, to be replaced with the names of Bloor and Mayor Haugh.

Haugh announced that resumes for the position of fiscal officer will be accepted through Jan. 22 and must be hand-delivered to the mayor's office at village hall during normal business hours. "We'll accept those and move on from there," she said.

In other business, council approved a payment of $125,132.40 to Rudzik Excavating for their work as contractor on the completion of a new pump station and forced main improvement project. This is the second installment of payments to the firm for their services on the village project.

Village council will hold its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5 in council chambers.



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