Village police make arson arrest

SALINEVILLE – A Salineville man was arrested Friday and charged with arson for his alleged involvement in a March 28 fire that destroyed a vacant Water Street property.

According to Salineville Police Chief Andrew Straley, Robert A. Bidwell, 30, was taken into into custody Friday afternoon by village police on the felony 4 arson charge following a two-week investigation.

The department, according to Straley, has been receiving tips and conducting follow-up investigations since late last month when the fire that destroyed 116 Water St. was deemed suspicious by the village fire department.

The chief said tips from village residents were crucial in narrowing down the department’s pool of suspects. He also commended Officer Jeff Haugh for his investigative work on the case.

Straley said it is not clear, based on his investigation, what motivated Bidwell to start the fire. However, he noted that Bidwell’s home, 121 West Main, is near the suspected arson site.

Bidwell has no prior criminal record, according to Straley adding the felony 4 charge could result in a serious sentence for Bidwell.

“We take it very seriously because arson tends to escalate,” said Straley.

The chief chalked the arrest up to the quality of officers working for his department, as well as the assistance received from the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve got a great group of officers in place, and with help from the county (sheriff’s office), we’re making the town a better place,” said. “We have a pretty good success rate.”