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Newly appointed Warren councilman misses first meeting

WARREN — City Council members expressed their discontent after newly elected councilman at-Large Gary Steinbeck was absent at what would have been his first regular council meeting on Wednesday.

Democratic Party precinct committee members appointed Steinbeck to the seat Jan. 25 after it was vacated by now-Safety Service Director Eddie Colbert. In that vote, Steinbeck received 12 votes, 5th Ward Councilman Ken MacPherson took five votes and D’Andre Bowers and Dan Aulizia took one vote apiece.

While a motion was made and seconded to formally excuse Steinbeck for the absence, only those two council members voted to excuse him, while the rest voted no.

Councilman at-Large John Brown Jr. said he could not, in good faith, excuse Steinbeck from his first meeting. He also said Steinbeck missed a council of the whole meeting last week during which a proposed impound lot was discussed.

During his acceptance speech following his selection by the Democratic committee members, Steinbeck said he would continue to work hard, as he has done his entire adult life, “to do everything I can do to help this city to continue on the path it’s on.”

He also said as a retiree, he has time to make the commitment to the council seat. It was reported Steinbeck was vacationing in Florida.

Steinbeck did not return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.

In other business, Colbert reported that he and Mayor Doug Franklin spent time in Columbus Wednesday to speak to lawmakers to ask for funds from the state capital budget for Warren projects, specifically securing funds to take down the former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital on Tod Avenue NW.

Residents of the neighborood where the former hospital was located have been pushing for its demolition, saying the building is not only an eyesore, but also dangerous to anyone who may go inside. Estimates for the demolition have come in as high as $8 million, which includes asbestos removal.

Colbert hopes within the next month or so, the city will receive good news from Columbus.

Officials from Weathersfield also went to Columbus to ask for funding for a $500,000 multi-purpose community center complex to be built at the township park off state Route 46. The complex will be used for training of law enforcement from many police departments, for community events, for use by local 4-H and other groups, and possibly for a library branch.

Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz also took part in the trip to see about securing funds for redoing the turf at the Niles Wellness Center. The turf, which was put in when the center opened in 2007, needs replaced as it is nearly 13 years old and has outlived its projected lifespan of seven years, Mientkiewicz said.

He said the project is estimated at between $185,000 to $200,000, with the city seeking $85,000 from the state. Mientkiewicz said the city also has appropriated approximately $50,000 for the project.

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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