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Naming of bishop topped July’s news

December 26, 2012
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

A 49-year-old Michigan parish priest was introduced on July 3 as the new bishop to lead the nearly 40,000 Catholics of the Diocese of Steubenville.

Monsignor Jeffrey Marc Monforton was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to become the fifth bishop of the 13-county diocese filling the one-year vacancy created when Bishop R. Daniel Conlon was appointed bishop of the Joliet, Ill., Catholic diocese.

Monforton was born in 1963 in Detroit.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 25, 1994.

In other news in July:

The U.S. Bankruptcy judge overseeing RG Steel's efforts to liquidate assets authorized up to $20 million in bonuses for members of the company's management team if they can find buyers with deep pockets, spurring criticism from union leaders who say the payments would be a reward for driving the company into the ground.

The trustee overseeing the sale as well as the committee representing RG Steel's unsecured creditors, including the United Steelworkers of America and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., objected to the bonus plan.

Also in July, RG Steel sold the roughly 101-acre Steubenville plant to Wheeling-based River Rail Development for $4.3 million. River Rail, an arm of Strauss Industries, acquired the property to "expand our business," officials there said, though they also indicated a willingness to work with local development groups to redevelop the property.

The Jefferson County Prosecutor's office and the Ohio Attorney General's office on July 10 asked two Jefferson County Common Pleas Court judges to order C&D Disposal Technologies landfill operators to follow local and state regulations.

The two legal agencies independently filed requests seeking preliminary injunctions against the landfill facility citing environmental issues.

Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Emanuela Agresta representing the local health department filed a request seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction and asked the judge to order the immediate closure of the facility.

Agresta said in her filing the landfill is currently operating without a construction and demolition debris license.

She also cited the landfill's owners' failure to perform final closure of the C&D Disposal Facility and failure to submit monthly reports.

An official from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Cleveland field office reviewed the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority's policies and regulations before meeting in a 23-minute executive session with the authority's board of commissioners on July 10.

Jimmy Davis, a public housing revitalization specialist, said he could not publicly discuss the contents of the report he will submit to the Cleveland field office.

JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini said the executive session "was necessary to discuss issues that are required by HUD to be kept confidential."

Costantini also announced during the special meeting he would sit down with city officials twice a month "to exchange information to remedy problems."

Davis said he reviewed the JMHA policies and regulations following a request from U.S. Rep Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, for an investigation into alleged criminal activity in public housing units in Jefferson County.

Johnson filed his request with the HUD offices in Washington, D.C., on June 26.

Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci called upon supporters of the city's unofficial logo to "stay united" as city officials review their options in light of a threatened lawsuit by a Madison, Wis., organization.

But the supporters who packed the city council chambers on July 31 urged city council members to officially adopt the logo and to fight attempts by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to remove the cross and a silhouette of the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Christ the King Chapel from the logo.

"This all started when the city manager and the city council thought it would be nice to have a logo that encompasses all aspects of the city. This council embraced the logo because we all wanted it to be inclusive of everything we have here. We decided we would use the logo so it would catch on. But we should have assumed someone would challenge such a beautiful logo," said Mucci.

After nearly 40 years with the U.S. Postal Service, Steubenville Postmaster Anita Petrella accepted a buyout offer and retired from the only career she ever knew.

Petrella was recognized and feted by family, friends, current and former co-workers during a nearly hour-long ceremony July 10 near the entrance of the North Third Street post office.

The retirement party included remarks from retired Steubenville postmasters Bill Martin and Tony Lonetta, who commended Anita Petrella for her dedication and service to the community.

Veteran Catholic educator Victoria "Vicki" Nurczyk was named principal of St. John Central Grade School in Bellaire on July 19.

Nurczyk served as a teacher at the former St. Anthony Grade School and Aquinas Central Elementary School and later as principal of the Aquinas school.

She most recently worked as vice principal of the Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School in Steubenville.

Mingo Junction Council on July 10 approved an ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses.

The ordinance was prepared by the Ohio Attorney General's Office. It calls for the owner or operator of a sexually oriented business and all employees to have to be licensed through the village. The application process includes a photograph taken by a police agency, fingerprints and a criminal background check.

A man wanted on an attempted murder charge out of Frederick, Md., was arrested in Steubenville on July 11 thanks to some help from electronic crime fighting tools.

City Police reported Frederick County, Md., authorities let local police know they were looking for Brandon Brown, 19, of Frederick, formerly of Steubenville.

He was wanted on an attempted murder charge in connection with a stabbing in Frederick on July 3 during a drug buy.

The dam at Friendship Park Lake was fixed in July.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has noted the wet area for years during inspections.

Then the County Risk Sharing Authority, the statewide consortium which provides property and liability insurance to Jefferson County, threatened to pull the insurance coverage on the dam.

James Branagan of the Friendship Park Board said the park board hired an engineering firm to determine what was causing the wet spot on the face of the dam. The study found the wet area was caused by a natural spring located on the edge of the dam face, he said. The water was tested and it was determined not to be coming from the 85-acre lake.

Branagan said the area is full of springs.

Wintersville Fire and Rescue in July showed off the purchase three new fire trucks at a cost of $1.4 million.

Chief Robert Herrington said fire apparatus and trucks are rated to last about 10 years. After that, high maintenance costs and low resale value make if difficult to either keep the fire truck or get a good price in the resale market.

The department had three trucks - a ladder truck, fire engine and attack pumper, which is smaller and able to fit into places such as house driveways - that were nearing the end of the 10-year cycle.

Herrington said he and Assistant Chief Mark Bevilacqua started looking at the resale market and noticed the prices for existing fire trucks were higher than normal. He said a tornado outbreak last year destroyed numerous fire trucks.

Those fire departments down south were looking to buy used fire trucks because it takes about 16 months to get a new replacement, he said.

Wintersville was looking to replace the attack pumper but the opportunity to replace more trucks suddenly started to fall in place.

The cost of the new trucks was $1.4 million. The department financed $1.2 million, he said.

Davina L. Burgess, 43, of Youngstown pleaded guilty on July 27 to taking more than $25,000 from a non-profit food pantry.

Burgess was placed on five years of probation and ordered to repay $24,055 to the Wolf Run, East Springfield, Bergholz and Amsterdam Food Pantry in the amount of $400 a month. Burgess was a bookkeeper for the organization that provides food to about 120 to 150 families a month.

Burgess told Bruzzese she misappropriated funds to pay her own bills and also gave money to other people in the community outside of the scope of the operation of the food bank.

Radio communications is a key element in police officer safety, but the Ohio State Highway Patrol was having difficulty in talking with other police agencies in Jefferson County.

That prompted the county's 911 system in July to give the patrol 16 radios that enable troopers to talk to other police officers.

County 911 Director Robert Herrington said 911 had the radios in inventory, and the patrol's technical workers installed the radios in 15 trooper cruisers at the Steubenville post. A radio also was installed in a patrol K-9 unit based in Cambridge.

Shane Young, 32, of 328 Hill Ave. was arrested by City Police on July 30 on a robbery charge in connection with two robberies in the city on July 27.

Young was sentenced in September to 30 months in prison.

Police reported Young was a suspect in the robbery of both Dollar General on Hollywood Boulevard and the University Boulevard BP gas station.

Police were tipped that Young was located at a residence at 2612 Sunset Blvd. Police surrounded the house and found Young inside on a couch.

The first robbery happened after 5 p.m. when an attendant at the University Boulevard BP gas station reported a black male carrying a knife walked into the office area and demanded money.

While police officers were searching for the man and the car he was driving, a second armed robbery call came within 45 minutes from the Dollar General store on Hollywood Boulevard.

The robber went to the counter at Dollar General and attempted to make a purchase, police reported. When the man's credit card was rejected, he told the clerk he had a gun and to open the cash register. The man reached into the register and grabbed cash, police reported.

Follansbee Community Days moved to the parking lot of the Follansbee Community House in July.

The move to the park was suggested by residents of Virginia Avenue, where the festival had been held for many years. Some cited the disruption caused by closing the residential area to traffic, forcing them to park away from their homes, while others cited noise and trespassing and property damage by some festival-goers. But many organizers and attendees welcomed the move, saying it allowed for additional seating for the musical entertainment and children attending could swim and play at the nearby park and pool.

On July 10, the Brooke County Commission moved to require future hirees and newly elected county officials to contribute 20 percent of their health coverage.

Commissioners Tim Ennis and Norma Tarr supported the move, saying it would help the county to cut costs for health care. Commissioner Marty Bartz voted against, saying lesser paid employees, including some earning close to the minimum wage, will have to work up to 10 hours of overtime to afford the coverage.

Ten former "Rosie the Riveters" were among those who gathered at the Weirton Museum and Cultural Center on July 21 to share their experiences working in steel mills and other industries during World War II while many men were serving in the military.

Kathleen Starr, Anita Varney, Mary Banketas, Carrie Wildman, Gloria Kotur, Irene Boby, Margaret Rojak, Edna Brown, Thelma Grossen and Thais Blatnik were the former "Rosies" on hand for the event.

Guest speaker Anne Montague of Thanks Plain and Simple discussed her efforts to catalog the stories of "Rosies" across the state and 20 projects in West Virginia to pay tribute to "Rosies," including a recently opened park in St. Albans.

At its July 31 meeting, the Brooke County Commission honored John Schwertfeger, former county emergency medical services director, who retired after more than 30 years of public service. Schwertfeger said he would continue to serve as Follansbee police chief.

Weirton's Park Board voted to demolish historic Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool, saying the cost to upgrade the property and make it handicap accessible was too high. Residents, however, weren't convinced and launched a petition drive, both in print and online, to persuade board members to delay demolition until they'd had a chance to see for themselves what the problems are and how much it would cost them to fix.

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