I have resided in Bridgeport my entire life and over the years the one law firm that has worked diligently for Bridgeport is the firm that Richard Myser is still a part of.
They are also located right here on Howard Street. As far back as I can remember, there has always been one member of their firm representing our village. It started back when Michael and Harold Thomas were there, then we had Rodney Hanson, until he passed away. Then the Village hired Richard Myser, who is now the senior of that same law firm representing us until Councilman Dave Smith, Carole Lyle, Marvin Husarik and Ben Lenz voted to terminate him due to a situation with his salary and some benefits that he was offered by the village. The sad fact is, they didn't even let him renegotiate, they just fired him and hired Mark Thomas. When they were asked about whether they interviewed any other attorneys, the answer was "No." Mark Thomas was not as easily reached when he was needed by the mayor's office and sometimes it took days for a response. Our village cannot operate that way. We need someone who can get back to us whenever we call on him. That local firm has also produced some pretty good county judges like Frank Fregiato. At the last council meeting, Councilman Smith asked me to call around to see if we could get any other attorneys in the area for our solicitor. I, myself, with the help of my secretaries called all over Belmont County and we still only got two resumes of interest for the job. In my opinion, there is no question as to who the village should hire. Richard Myser really cares about our village and that's the end of representation we need.
I would also like to fill our citizens in on several other projects we are working on here in the village, but before I do, I would like to say that this council did have the good sense to let me hire Bill Street of Street Engineering to help work on the projects which I am listing here. Bill will go after funding if there is any out there and he doesn't want to get paid until we have the grant money in our hands.
1. Hall Street - Bill Street will help with the aid of Al Smith (Surveyor) to mark out our right of ways there. This street serves most of our businesses in our downtown area and it is in bad shape so we have to do something there.
2. Howard Street - We need to install about 500 feet of new water line in that area before any paving can be done. The Board of Trustees is willing to work with us to do this project.
3. Jacques Street - This street is also slipping and there is a house located above and below the area that this is occurring. I am looking into this with my own expertise to see just how to handle repairing this street.
4. Route 30 (Kirkwood Heights Road) - we have three slips on that road and this too is being handled (looked at) by Bill Street, before a major slip occurs. If any of these projects are declared to be an "emergency" then money will be available to repair them.
5. Municipal Building Roof - As most of you already know, our municipal building is in dire need of being replaced. It has been leaking for quite some time and it is a flat roof. We have been getting several estimates on this, but that too will cost the village money.
6. Water Department - Our village water department is working with the Ohio EPA to take care of our sanitary/storm water situation here in Bridgeport. They are also working on another project to help improve our drinking water system.
7. Water Department - We just recently received notification from the Ohio Public Works that we are getting money to help repair a water leak that occurred under Interstate 70. The cost of this project was $31,581. and we are receiving $2,422. which cover 90 percent of that cost. This was a collaborated effort on the part of myself along with Jason Wilson, Mike Miller of OPWC and Jeff Vaughn. I contacted these people and they came through for us but this is only because I have kept up a good relationship with all of our public officials.
There are so many of our village streets that are beyond patching and we already have Bill Street working on measuring those off and giving us a price on repairing them.
As you can see, being mayor is not an easy job and you have to stay in constant touch with all of your local public officials in order to get things done. I have already called Lou Gentile, Jason Wilson, ODOT, Bel-O-Mar and even Congressman Bill Johnson's office to try and set a meeting to see if there is any money out there for all of the above stated projects. I cannot do these things alone - I need good people behind me to get these things accomplished.
I also must put in a good word for all of our loyal employees. The street department, sanitation department, water department, police department, fire department and fiscal officer. Also, all of our clerks, in the mayor's office and water office. Without the help of all of these people, nothing would get done and the village would not survive.
On the subject of our street department, we used to have three people working these when I first became mayor, and I must say that even though we now have one (Ron Dyson), who covers all of our roads in the wintertime, I think he does a better job. Ron and I are on the telephone sometimes in the middle of the night so that we can keep our roads clear for our residents. There have been some complaints about his "overtime" but in my opinion "overtime compensates for safety."
In closing, I as mayor, for the last 17 years, even with cut after cut of local government funding, have managed to keep our village in the black. This, too, could not be done without the help of our village employees.
I thank the good people of Bridgeport for all their support over the years, and I promise that all of these projects will get done ...it will just take time and money.
John J. Callarik