Salem council OKs purchases

SALEM – City Council approved appropriations for several capital improvement purchases recommended by the Finance Committee Tuesday, including a new police cruiser, a new warning siren and a new snow plow truck.

“We can afford these items and we need these items,” Councilman Jeff Cushman said he was told by Auditor Betty Brothers.

The list of capital projects and their costs included:

– a new police cruiser, Ford Interceptor, through Donnell Ford (at less than state purchase price), $35,700

– warning siren replacement, $24,000

– 2 1/2-ton International Truck through state purchasing with truck from O.S. Hill Company and bed body, plow and drop spreader from Gledhill Road Machinery Co., $123,000

– new traffic paint sprayer, $16,800

– replacement of dryvit (continuous insulation) on the north side wall near roof of city hall, $9,000

– traffic light upgrade of final two intersections, South Lincoln Avenue at Franklin and East Pershing Street at Southeast Boulevard, $30,000.

All of the purchases were included in an appropriations ordinance for the capital improvement fund, with the exception of the $30,000 for the traffic light upgrades, which Brothers said was already in the capital improvement fund.

City electrician Mike Bibbee addressed three of the requests, starting with the warning siren replacement. Ever since a lightning strike last summer destroyed the siren at Centennial Park, the city has had to rely on the remaining two sirens at Waterworth Memorial Park and Kelley Park. The siren at Waterworth Memorial Park was also damaged during the storm and had to be rebuilt. During a statewide tornado drill last month, there were problems reported with the sirens again.

The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency had applied for federal funding last fall for the purchase of early warning sirens to install throughout the county, but didn’t receive it, which Mayor John Berlin mentioned during the meeting. He asked the EMA director if there was any chance of another grant, but was told not at this time.

He told the committee they needed to get a new siren in place, adding they can’t wait.

Bibbee said both of the current sirens are well over 25 years old and obsolete. Plans call for the new warning siren to be placed on a 50-foot pole at the high school, which is at one of the highest elevations in the city. He said that one siren will have better coverage than the current sirens, with the sound more penetrating.

Councilman Dave Nestic questioned whether the siren struck by lightning was insured and whether the city could recoup some money toward the cost of the new siren, which will be checked into. He also suggested keeping the two current sirens in place as backup.

Cushman asked if there was any technology available for the city to send a message or alert to residents if bad weather was approaching, saying it might be helpful to citizens. Bibbee said he would have to check on that.

For other projects, he said the current traffic line striper was purchased in 2003 and had $500 in repairs last year and will need another $500 in repairs this year. He said the new machine is programmable and carries 25 gallons of paint instead of just 5 gallons like the current machine. The new machine comes with a three-year warranty and includes a glass bead dispenser, which can make lines more durable and more reflective at night. It also comes with a light kit for use at night when there’s less traffic.

For the traffic light upgrades, Bibbee said this would bring all 21 traffic lights up to current technology. He said those intersections don’t have the safety features that the other 19 intersections have and noted that he has some of the materials needed for the upgrade already on hand.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst explained the dryvit (continuous insulation) replacement request, noting that some of the material peeled off during a wind storm. Recent high winds have pulled more of the material off of the north wall of city hall along East Pershing Street. The material covers the top 4 feet of the building. Nestic questioned whether there was a warranty when the work was originally done, saying he thought it was just four years ago. Berlin said they would check into that and any money recouped would go into capital improvements, just like they’ll do if the siren damage is covered by insurance.

For the new vehicles, police Chief J.T. Panezott addressed the new cruiser and street supervisor Jim Phillis addressed the snow plow truck, with both explaining the need for the new vehicles. A 2008 Ford Crown Victoria with well over 100,000 miles and in need of new tires will be replaced by the new police cruiser.

Phillis said the new truck will replace a 1995 Ford with an estimated $16,500 in maintenance and repair costs in the next two years. Plans call for $60,000 from the sale of grindings to go toward the cost of the truck, with the remaining $62,640 from capital improvements.