Walbridge mayor tries to derail train fears


WALBRIDGE — The mayor is trying to alleviate concerns about the possibility of an East Palestine train derailment in the village.

Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko said that last year he participated in a CSX training day, along with Police Chief Kenneth Campbell.

“We’ve got a lot of contacts, in case something happens,” he said. “If something happens, we know who to call, or they know who to call.”

After the East Palestine incident, Kolanko said he reached out to his CSX contact.

Council President Karen Baron brought the issue up at the Feb. 15 meeting.

“That worries me because that could have been us,” she said. “Those trains go through our village.”

Village Administrator Mike Adkins said there should be concerns everywhere about railroads.

“They’ve cut manpower 30-40%,” Adkins said. “They’re lengthening the trains. They’re trying to get the best bang for their buck … and doing it as cheap as possible.”

Baron asked it there could be better communication about what is coming through Walbridge, on those trains.

“It worries me that, shouldn’t we be notified if there are trains going through the village that have toxic chemicals?” Baron said.

Kolanko said they are not going to disclose what’s on a train.

“They’re not going to say, ‘hey, 4% of this train is a toxic chemical.’ Because guess what you’re doing? You’re alerting people to potential terrorist activity,” Kolanko said. “That’s not safe.”

He added that he believes the equipment is very safe.

CSX tracks go through and surround Walbridge. Norfolk Southern tracks are in Lake Township.

No one was injured when 38 Norfolk Southern cars derailed on the outskirts of East Palestine on Feb. 3. As fears grew about a potential explosion, officials seeking to avoid an uncontrolled blast had the area evacuated and opted to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, sending flames and black smoke billowing into the sky again.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Heard Councilwoman Sue Hart-Douglas, who is chair of the buildings and lands committee, report that the chicken issue is still being researched and discussed. A petition with 42 registered voters from the village, asking council to allow chickens in the village, was recently submitted.

• Purchased a zero-turn mower from W.F. Smithers in Walbridge for $11,839.

• Hired Jeff Crawford as a street department employee. Kolanko said that hiring Crawford, who is the son of Fiscal Officer Patty Crawford, would not be a nepotism issue because he will not report to her.

• Discussed a Martindale Place issue with 3-foot strip of land that prevents any extension of the street and, essentially the village. After the meeting, Kolanko said he has been trying to contact the owner about possibly selling it.

• Had a discussion on shredding documents. Kolanko said he will get a quote for a professional service.

• Heard from Kolanko that he expects 80% of last year’s pool staff to return this summer.

• Approved having village-wide garage sales on May 19-20 and Aug. 11-12.

• Excused Councilwoman LaDenna Johsnton, who was absent.

(Part of an Associated Press story was used in this story.)

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