Belpre Council discusses employee handbook

BELPRE – Belpre city officials began discussions Monday regarding the need to update the city employee handbook to reflect the increased technology of modern times.

The city council’s Rules Committee met prior to the regular council meeting to address social media and city employees.

“We have had a couple of instances where we have had to do a little bit of counseling on the use of social media,” said Mayor Mike Lorentz. “At the mayors’ partnership, it came up in a more severe setting than we witnessed here and… I would rather remove the use of social media while employees are on the clock than get in a mess.

“I thought we need to put something in writing before it becomes a problem,” he said.

Committee chair Donna Miller said employees often understand everyone knows they work for the city and sometimes need to be reminded that people see what they post online.

“I’m concerned about people getting knowledge about the city to hurt others through (social media),” Miller said.

Lorentz said it is important to have the rules in place so employees have an idea of what will happen if they violate the terms.

“We aren’t talking about taking away people’s rights; we’re just saying that you have the freedom of speech until it slanders someone else; things that are harassing or against the law or another person will not be tolerated.”

At-Large Councilwoman Susan Abdella, who is the administrator for the Camden Clark Medical Center’s emergency room at the Memorial Campus, asked how the city plans to watch social media for violations.

“I think there needs to be more conversation here,” Abdella said.

The Rules Committee will again meet to continue the discussions at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 in council chambers.

In other business Monday:

* Tim Vaughan, president of the Belpre Soccer Club, approached council regarding the need for land for the fall season.

In June it was announced the property between Washington Boulevard and Blennerhassett Avenue that has served as the club’s home for 15 years is for sale. This has led to the soccer organization needing to relocate.

“We are a club without a home,” Vaughan said.

The club is looking for relatively flat land of around seven or eight acres to allow for several fields and parking.

“As an emergency, for the fall season, I think we could put something together, but I can’t think of any real open areas,” said City Law Director Tom Webster.

Vaughan said the Belpre Soccer Club hopes to have everything resolved by the coming spring season.

* Council approved to rezone three plats of land with a voice vote following a public hearing regarding the lots with no objections to the requests.

Two parcels on Hill Street 1600 and 1605 were rezoned from single family home status of R-1 to multi residential home status of R-2.

The lot at 125 Maple St., just off Washington Boulevard, was taken from residential to commercial status for Belpre Furniture, which already owns the land, to expand its showroom.