Town Council focus on Municipal Building
Marlinton mayor Joe Smith informed town council members that most of the new flooring has been installed in the Municipal Building.
“The men from the fire department are doing an excellent job on that — it really looks good,” commented Smith.
The mood changed when it came to the status of the building's roof.
“Mark Mitchell came the Sunday before Thanksgiving,” said Smith. “He said there were two spots that were deteriorating severely. He said he saw no signs of leakage and that he could repair it over Thanksgiving, and he did repair it. What he did was he cleaned it, and applied a rust break, he let that dry and applied something else for a finish coating. He said that's what it needed.”
“Did he find anything structural?” asked town recorder Robin Mutscheller. “My concern is if you have a low area and the water starts to accumulate — the extra load on the roof. You can put a coating on it to keep it from leaking in, but if we have a structural problem that we don't address, then something significant could happen.”
“If we'd have gotten the snow that Nicholas County received during the last storm, that roof would've caved in, as heavy as it was,” said Marlinton Fire Department Chief Herb Barlow.
Town council members agreed to investigate the issue further.
Barlow's concern for the integrity of the roof was followed by a report of the fire department's activity.
“Currently we have 40 active fire and EMS members,” Barlow said. “Currently, to date, we've had 366 EMS runs, 95 fire runs, we've weathered two major storms, one in the summer and one in the fall or winter.”
Barlow said the department also received several thousand dollars worth of equipment from the Forest Service including Nomex suits, helmets and power tools for attending a training course.
“The Nomex alone for one person is probably $500 per firefighter,” he said. “We got that through training. Everyone that took the class got a set of gear. We got five new chainsaws this year, one leaf blower, that too was from classes we all took. You go to a class and you have ten people, you get one power tool. You have 20 people, you get two power tools. And the saws did come in handy the past two storms.”
Barlow told council members that was the “good part” of the report. Barlow said he felt like the town wasn't holding up their end of an agreement to maintain the Municipal Building, have the alarm system serviced, and paint fire hydrants throughout the town.
“The fire department was organized in June 1906,” Barlow said. “We were incorporated February 7, 1973. The town does not own us as the mayor told us he did. We are a separate entity. We support the town.”
“With you guys not fixing and doing things you've told us you were gonna do, it's not only affecting the fire department, it affects our ISO rating, it affects our standing with the state fire marshal. The state fire marshal could come in and close us,” Barlow went on to say.
“The fire hydrants that Joe assured us he would paint, still haven't been painted. Every time the fire marshal comes in, it's a ding against the fire department, not the city, the fire department. With the ISO rating, we have a class five rating. A class five rating is unheard of for volunteers. We have a great rating, and what does that mean to anybody? Your homeowners insurance.
“If you say you're gonna do something for us, do it,” Barlow said. “If you would've told me that we needed to take care of the painting, my guys would've painted it. Marlinton has one of the best volunteer fire departments in the state. I travel throughout the state, I've seen other departments, how they work. We do a great job and I'll fight for the fire department, it's in my blood.”
Smith appointed Mutscheller and council member Sue Helton as liaison to the fire department, and agreed to address the issues within the Municipal Building.
Local business owner Nelson Hernandez asked why the recycling program grant application, spearheaded by former town council member Natasha McMann, had been denied, and if it was still going to be pursued.
“I read in the paper up in the eastern panhandle, it said that Pocahontas County — it named off some of the counties that were denied — it said that we already had recycling plants and there was a small population and there was no need for duplication,” said council member Louise Barniski.
Smith asked council members what they wanted to do about incorporating a lift station near Fran Manor into the town's system.
“We have a good, brand new lift station up there, with warranty,” explained Smith. “I always thought that lift station only took care of Fran Manor. Come to find out, in rebuilding the thing, it takes care of Fran Manor, the Church of Christ or whichever church that is up there, plus all the houses where Sue lives [Lakeview Estates].
Smith said the town has a moral obligation to accept that facility, simply because if it was Fran Manor's only and it broke down, that was a different situation because it was servicing a private enterprise.
“That certainly makes a difference,” agreed council member Norris Long.
Council members voted unanimously to accept the pump station from the West Virginia Housing Authority and to integrate it into the town's infrastructure.