More discussions will be held on beautifying the city.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Law Director C. Brooke Zellers drew a round of applause at Tuesday's council meeting after warning the public of the city's growing drug problem.
"Salem has known drug houses at this time," Zellers said, adding, "The community needs to be a little more pro-active."
Part of the problem, he said, lies with some rental property owners who rent to drug users again and again.
The law director said he planned to talk to Police Chief Robert Floor and his officers to see what can be done.
Zellers said his information came from talks with Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron of Salem, who has been trying to sound the same alarm through the county with little success.
Information compiled by The Vindicator for a series of stories on the problem shows that the county's total number of criminal cases rose by 22 percent from 1996 through 2005, while the county's population dropped by 3.6 percent for the same years.
The law director said the city may also look at a blight abatement program to improve rundown properties. He also urged people to get involved, possibly by joining a block watch group or forming one.
"We do not want to see Salem lose its pride," Zellers said.
In other action, council members talked with representatives of the volunteer Salem Beautification Committee who asked the city for help in maintaining the downtown and the approaches to the city. The committee took over from various garden clubs and groups that had helped beautify the downtown.
Charlotte Lewis, a member of the committee, said the city isn't controlling weeds or removing litter, trash receptacles aren't emptied regularly, trees aren't pruned, graffiti isn't removed and there are no seasonal plantings. She asked council if it could provide receptacles for cigarettes.
Lewis said, "It really isn't clean, and we want downtown to be clean."
Lewis hoped that trash receptacles downtown could be emptied one a week. Service Director Joe Julian said they are supposed to be emptied every week and would check with the private company hired to do the work. But Julian said his department has been cut from 11 workers to seven and cannot help the group.
Councilwoman Mary Lou Popa, head of the city's streets, sidewalks and alleys committee, said the city has no money to give the group. But Popa's committee will meet again with the group at 6 p.m. October 30 to continue discussions.