WELLSVILLE - A village resident voiced his frustration with a lack of action related to flooding damage at Tuesday evening's council meeting in Wellsville.
Frank Pucci addressed council members about damage sustained in his 10th Street home following the flooding of Aug. 8. According to Pucci, more than two feet of water inundated his basement, not through the outside, but gushing from drains in the floor. "It came up like a fire hose through my basement," he said. "I have never had any problem like this in all of my years living here."
The resulting flood waters have crippled the clothes washer and dryer, the hot water tank and furnace, Pucci says. Despite having the items in plastic storage bins, he also claims the loss of family heirlooms and photos, numerous collectibles, and materials related to a book deal he won't be able to fulfill.
Pucci says the damages, which have been assessed at more than $100,000, have been denied by his insurance company due to a lack of flood coverage. He asked about the status of government relief that had been discussed in the weeks following the storm. "I was told that, as a city, we were waiting on some kind of federal or governmental aid for cleanup," Pucci said.
Councilman Tony Cataldo replied that the state never made a formal disaster or emergency declaration in Wellsville, so the village was not eligible for disaster funds. However, the village was able to secure funding through the Ohio Public Works Commission toward the installation of new storm sewers and catch basins throughout the village.
An item on the meeting agenda, in fact, was a motion to have the engineering firm of Howells and Baird of Salem prepare bidding plans and specifications for work on Lisbon and 10th streets, which will be the final leg of the project. "Hopefully, there won't be more flooding out there," Cataldo said.
Councilwoman Diane Dinch expressed sympathy for Pucci, saying her own basement flooded for the first time during the storm, but stated the village couldn't afford to incur the costs of residents' losses associated with the flood since so many homes were affected. "The best we can do is try to fix the problem and try to keep that from ever happening again," she said.
In other business, village administrator Thom Edgell announced purchases large and small for village workers. "I have the sense that people aren't always comfortable with employees of various governmental entities that aren't identifiable," Edgell said. He expressed the personal feeling that some village employees, "don't look the part," in their personal attire.
Edgell showed examples of the new uniform shirts that have been ordered and will feature pocket patches that state "Village of Wellsville" on one side and have a name patch on the other side. The cost of $309 will cover 11 pairs of pants and shirts that will be laundered and ironed regularly. In addition, Edgell requested weather gear, including boots and heavy-duty coats, that would be village property to be rotated among workers when necessary.
Edgell recalled an ordinance that pays village workers a $300 uniform stipend, which obviously hasn't been spent on uniforms in many years. Cataldo moved to order legislation changing the ordinance and procedure manual to provide uniforms to employees instead of a clothing allowance. It passed unanimously.
In addition, Edgell announced the order of a new backhoe. A list price of $170,000 was reduced through state purchasing by nearly half to $82,000. "We're going to discuss about $40,000 down and do a five-year lease-to-own," Cataldo explained. After five years are up, he says, the village will be able to trade the backhoe in and get list price toward another new backhoe. "You can actually trade them in every five years and always get a new backhoe," he said.
In other business, councilwoman Rosie Goss thanked the students from the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center in Lisbon and their instructor, Chance Bricker, for the contribution of new Christmas decoration, which they built and donated to the village. They were also extended to Dinch and members of the fire department, who assisted with putting up the decorations. "I think Broadway looks great, it looks like a little winter wonderland," she said.
The next meeting of Wellsville Council is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17.