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Council gifted $50,000 to upgrade police station

CANFIELD — Mahoning County commissioners attended Wednesday’s Canfield City Council meeting to make a recent donation official.

The commissioners presented the check for $50,000 that went to the completion of the renovated police station behind city hall off Lisbon Street.

“We had the renovation of the dispatch center in the works for two years,” said Canfield police Chief Chuck Colucci. “By the time the shovel hit the dirt, the prices jumped. These commissioners reached out to us and asked what our needs are. They care about the communities in Mahoning County.”

Colucci said commissioners agreed to give the city $50,000 to help renovate the police department lobby and make it A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.

“We are now A.D.A. compliant thanks to this grant,”Colucci said.

The project also saw the lobby enlarged to better serve the community.

“We as a board want to set aside funds for communities to do things that need done,” said Commissioner David Ditzler. “We set aside $400,000 for eight projects in the county and this is one of those eight.”

Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said the project was a great one to make improvement to the safety of the city.

“You have a very good police department you should be proud of,” said Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

Following the presentation, council members went into their regular meeting and East Main Street resident Cory McClain addressed council about Aug. 10, 2020, when his house caught fire and burned for over eight minutes.

“There have been stories on social media about what happened,” he told council, “but it took way too long for a response.”

He said he was awakened by smoke and managed to get out of the house. He said he stood with two police officers on the sidewalk and watched his house burn for what seemed to him to be a very long time.

City Attorney Mark Fortunato informed McClain he exceeded the three minutes for a public presentation and McClain went back to his seat.

At that point Council President John Morvay stepped in to help tell the story.

“It was the perfect storm,” Morvay said. “The fire truck responding from Messerly Road took eight minutes to get there. Normal response is four minutes for the fire department.”

Cardinal Joint Fire District Captain Rob Tieche addressed the issue at Morvay’s request and said in 2020, the ambulances were staffed full time. The ambulance that passed the burning house was from Station 1 on Lisbon Street. It was on a medical call, leaving no one at the station to respond with a fire truck. The fire truck was dispatched from the Messerly Road station and arrived on scene to a house engulfed in flames.

“We now have a staffed ambulance and a staffed fire truck working out of Station 1,” Tieche said. “Our goal is to have all three stations staffed with both an ambulance and a fire crew within the next year. We just added six more full-time employees and are interviewing four more.”

On a different matter, Mark Brooks a UWUA (Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO) Local 425 representative, addressed council on three charter amendments the union is supporting. Local 425 covers the City of Canfield’s Public Works employees.

One charter amendment that will be on the ballot would take council members from four-year terms back to two years.

A second one would prohibit managerial employees of the city from restraining, coercing, intimidating or directing any employee to support or oppose any position on a ballot issue.

The third proposal would provide for the city manager to be subject to removal by Canfield’s voters. Brooks made a serious allegation in the public presentation segment of the meeting when he said, “City management has engaged in outrageous conduct to intimidate Local 425 members from exercising their rights, including a June 29, 2021, mandatory meeting in which the City Manager threatened to terminate all bargaining unit employees because of their support for the UWUA and because of UWUA’s support for proposed amendments to the City Charter.”

He also called on the City of Canfield to negotiate in good faith a fair contract for Local 425 members.

No city official commented on Brooks’ presentation during the meeting. Afterward, City Manager Wade Calhoun said, “I have no comment because there is no merit in what he said.”

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