Personnel issues dominate council meeting

EAST LIVERPOOL – Personnel issues dominated discussion at this week’s City Council meeting, with Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell saying changes in the employee roster is causing a bit of a problem in the Refuse and Recycling department.

Estell said residents may experience more misses with their trash collection for a while due to a current lack of experienced workers following the retirement of some employees and the movement of some into other positions.

This, he said, left the department with just one experienced employee and three employees with less than a month’s experience and no real training program.

“They’re working through that. They’re learning on the fly,” Estell said, encouraging residents who encounter a missed pickup to contact his office so workers can go back and pick up their trash.

Estell said interviews have also been taking place for the mechanic’s position, with 19 applications received. All applicants were granted an interview, and Estell said there are several outstanding candidates for the position, which hasn’t been filled in some time.

Having a mechanic on the job, rather than pulling a worker from the ranks to perform the work will be a benefit to preventive maintenance, Estell said.

With the Civil Service Commission having set a competitive exam April 2 for an entry level firefighter, Estell said applications for the test can be picked up in the mayor’s office starting Monday morning.

Asked by Councilman Ryan Stovall if preference will be given to those applicants who have completed 240 hours of fire training, Estell said the Civil Service Commission sets the standards for applicants but said his preference would be to have candidates who could “step right in” to the position, noting there is a large number of people working on the 240-hour training.

Referring to thanks issued to some city workers by Mayor Jim Swoger during his state of the city address, Councilwoman Sherrie Curtis added her praise to those in City Hall who answer the phones, fielding complaints throughout the day.

“The calls they get aren’t, ‘Thanks for fixing the manholes,’ they’re about what didn’t get done,” Curtis said. “God bless them.”

Both Stovall and Councilman Tom Cunningham expressed pleasure at the city having placed a police officer on the county drug task force, with Stovall saying the officer chosen “is one of the best we could have out there. He’s a very diligent officer.”

Cunningham agreed, saying he knows how important a resource that is.

It is the paper’s policy to not identify task force officers.

Estell said the city has a lot of work ahead of it, saying, “When we have winters like this, we don’t get extra money. We’ve had triple the snow but the same amount of money, manpower and equipment.”

He emphasized that the entire year’s street budget cannot be used now to combat street conditions, since that revenue must stretch into the winter season later this year.

“We appreciate the patience a lot of people have shown,” Estell said.

Councilman Ray Perorazio said, “Everybody has done an exceptionally good job. Our main roads were perfectly fine (during recent bad weather).”

Councilman Chuck Wade also offered his thanks as council safety committee chairman to the city police department and other law enforcement agencies for the three search warrants executed last week that netted suspects, drugs and weapons.

“I hope it puts a message out there to some of the turkeys in our city,” Wade said.