Belpre council honors law enforcement

BELPRE – Belpre City Council and officials Monday recognized and thanked the law enforcement officers who helped arrest two Belpre men following an armed robbery.

“Everyone is now aware that during our last meeting, an armed robbery was just taking place in our city,” said Mayor Mike Lorentz. “By the time we returned home, the officer of our department, with assistance from the (Washington County) Sheriff’s Office, had the people in custody, which amazes me.”

To show appreciation, Lorentz presented Distinguished Service Awards to Washington County Sheriff’s deputies Lt. Brian Rhodes and Sgt. Keelan McLeish with his K-9 Bouregard along with Belpre police patrolman James Jobes, patrolman Joseph Kirby, deputy Eric Augenstein, patrolman Kerry Nichols, Sgt. Joseph R. Fields, Sgt. Michael L. Stump and patrolman Cody Greathouse.

The officers arrested Jason Stewart, 21, of 809 Morgan Ave., on a first-degree felony count of aggravated robbery and a third-degree felony count of robbery and Austin Stacy, 29, of 810 Morgan Ave., on a first-degree felony count of complicity to aggravated robbery and a third-degree felony count of complicity to robbery in connection with a Nov. 11 robbery of the Belpre Subway restaurant on Washington Boulevard.

“This, to me, is cooperation,” Lorentz said. “In a small city like ours, when it comes time to help out, everyone does what they can when they can.”

Council President Will Neff said he is always surprised with how quickly the officers were able to apprehend the suspects.

“It is nice to know we have the sheriff’s office to help us when an event like this takes place and have the criminals behind bars within hours of the event taking place,” said Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson.

In other business:

* Council approved to hold the one agenda item at the Dec. 9 meeting to allow the students who participate in the annual Student Government Day to go through one vote, at the request of City Auditor Leslie Pittenger.

The item is the temporary appropriation ordinance for calendar and fiscal year 2014 and is housekeeping legislation council must pass before the end of the year in order to be able to pay bills in the first quarter of the new year.

“I will still have time to get the signed legislation to the state if we wait,” Pittenger said. “I just think it would be nice for the students participating in Student Government Day to understand the process council goes through to pass legislation.”

Student Government Day will be held Dec. 9. Throughout the day, more than 20 members of the Belpre High School social studies classes will represent city officials, beginning with swearing in ceremonies in the morning and going through the council meeting.

The students will perform all of the actions council members and city officials perform during the meeting.

Belpre City Government Day is held the second Monday of December and was started more than 30 years ago by current Belpre Board of Education member Rod Hineman.

* Pittenger announced Belpre has been recognized in the national magazine “The American Gardener,” which has dedicated a spread in the November/December issue to the Belpre in Bloom beautification project.

“It’s a very nice article and it is very nice to be recognized in a national magazine for all of our community’s efforts,” said Pittenger.