Mary Lou Popa renews call for citywide cleanup

SALEM – Former city councilwoman Mary Lou Popa banged the drum again for a citywide cleanup during an appearance before Salem City Council Tuesday night, calling on residents to contact their council representatives.

“We owe this to the city residents,” she said.

Popa has been making the request for several years to no avail, along with asking for a second housing inspector to be hired. Discussion about housing inspections took place last year, with a fee considered that could have raised more funds for the operation, but the fee idea was rescinded after landlords protested a new fee.

“Was this issue dropped because all the landlords objected to it?” Popa asked.

She also mentioned the Save Downtown Salem project and called it a good idea, with the exception of the funding that had been discussed from the residents.

“Downtown Salem is not the only part of Salem that needs saving,” she said.

She was thanked for her comments, but no comments were made in response to her requests. During city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst’s report, he talked about the success of the recent large furniture/appliances/electronics drop-off event hosted jointly between the city and Perry Township in the municipal lot off of Pershing Street, prompting a question from Councilman Dave Nestic.

“What would be the difference between a citywide cleanup and this?” he asked.

Kenst said the difference would be that residents had to bring their items to the parking lot. With a citywide cleanup, they would probably receive more items since residents would be able to put the items curbside and the city would have to pay the cost.

Kenst pointed out that the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison Solid Waste District paid most of the cost of the recent drop-off event, paying for two large dumpsters to hold the items. Since they were so inundated with items, the city and township ended up asking for a third dumpster. Kenst said the city and township will split the $550 cost for the additional dumpster.

He did explain there was a point on Saturday morning during the two-day event that they shut down for about 15 minutes because they ran out of room, but they did what they had to do to get open again.

During introduction of ordinances, council approved an appropriation and transfer of $13,854 so the police department can hire a part-time secretary and also approved the creation of a telecommunications specialist position at $12 per hour. A current dispatcher will be elevated to the position of telecommunications specialist and serve as a dispatcher in charge while still working shifts as dispatcher.

Council also approved creation of a part-time accounts payable clerk position for $14 per hour for the auditor’s office where a full-time position being vacated won’t be filled. The ordinance was also corrected to include the position of temporary part-time tax clerk, which already existed, but wasn’t written in the ordinance for non-represented city employees. An ordinance for the purchase of a police cruiser was tabled.

In other business, Kenst was given authorization to renew a contract for the city to dispatch for the village of Beloit for fire calls and other services, but at a higher rate than the previous contract. The current contract was a five-year deal at a rate of $450 per month. Mayor John Berlin said the new contract will be a three-year deal for $750 a month in the first year, $900 per month next year and $1,150 per month in the final year. The contract takes effect Aug. 1 and continues through July 31, 2016.

Council also approved appropriations and transfers for the city’s share of $69,871 for the purchase of a new bucket truck for the city electrician and $7,000 for the jail transformation into a new detective room in the police department and the payment of $1,134 in accrued sick leave for three city employees who left.

Council accepted an invitation from First Energy Area Manager David Turner to attend an informational session about storm response, communications and economic development opportunities for First Energy at the line shop on Depot Road on June 11.

Linda Steffen was confirmed as a reappointment to the Shade Tree Commission for three years.

The next city council meeting is set for 7 p.m. May 8, which is a day later than usual due to the primary election on May 7. Council had agreed to the change at its last meeting. A finance committee meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. May 9 to further discuss the gas lease money and possible grants for the fire department.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at