Board seeking advice on field project

EAST LIVERPOOL – The city school board agreed Monday to seek legal advice in regard to the on-going Patterson Field improvement project.

A motion by board member Richard Wolf to contact one of the district’s law firms was supported by three other members, with Scott Dieringer absent.

Wolf said the project is now 145 days past its Aug. 15 completion deadline, saying, “I believe we need to have an attorney look at the situation and move on it. It’s an embarrassment to this board and to the community.”

The project has been stalled in recent months waiting state approval of several plans.

It has also been fraught with controversy, with board members and administrators claiming they were unaware that the original contract failed to include mechanical, electrical and plumbing costs and that a second story was being planned for one of the buildings. That plan has since been scrapped.

The project cost has escalated to $1.5 million.

The board agreed to contact Bricker and Eckler, one of two firms hired to represent the district during the organizational meeting earlier in the evening.

Ironically, Wolf opposed that earlier motion, saying the board “continues to squander money to the tune of $100,000 a year (for legal representation) when we have by statute the city law director at no cost.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board met in executive session for personnel matters, returning to deny two grievances filed by employees Traci Scott and Lisa Palmer.

No comments were offered by board members about the grievances.

A number of personnel matters were approved, but a motion to hire Gene Hughes, Dairy Lane, as a crossing guard was opposed by both Wolf and board President Janice Martin, with no reasons given.

A recommendation to hire Steve Dawson as a crossing guard was tabled because the address given for him was that of his downtown business and not his residence. Superintendent James Herring was directed to provide his home address.

During the reorganizational meeting, Martin was re-elected president and Robert Estell as vice president for this year.

A number of annual formalities were also approved, including continuing to hold regular board meetings at 6 p.m. the second and fourth Monday of each month and setting board members’ salary at $125 per meeting for a maximum of 24 meetings per year.