Maintenance tops town council agenda
During the mayor's report at Marlinton Town Council, mayor Joe Smith said he was pleased with the turnout for the annual Christmas Parade in town, and wanted to thank organizers and Lauren Bennett of Pocahontas County Parks and Rec for their hard work.
Smith said he attended an ON TRAC presentation at Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's office. Smith said Marlinton was one of two municipalities to be accepted into the community development program.
According to its website, ON TRAC — Organization, Training, Revitalization and Capacity — was created by the West Virginia Community Development Office in 2008 to assist in downtown revitalization and community development.
Smith said the new garbage rates in town went into effect this new billing cycle and there have been very few complaints so far.
According to Smith, maintenance projects in town and in the Marlinton Municipal Building are coming along well.
“When weather and manpower permit, the fire hydrants are being painted,” he said. “I think at this time we have all of Fourth Avenue completed, but don't hold me to that, there may be one that's not done yet. Ceiling tiles have been replaced in the [municipal] building. We ordered three heater motors. The back doors are being replaced today and tomorrow — the ones that were rusted through. And the sinks and toilets are fixed and running correctly.”
Smith said he was approached by a local landowner to see if the town was interested in purchasing a lot near Appalachian Sport. He said the town already owns the lots on both sides of the one-acre parcel that is up for sale.
“She approached me to see what the feelings of the town were on buying this one acre of property that we abut to on both sides,” explained Smith. “She did not discuss cost or anything like that, she just wanted to know before she proceeds with getting the heirs to sign off on it, if the town would be interested.”
Smith said because the item was not on the meeting agenda, no action could be taken, but he encouraged council members to take a look at the property if they had the time.
The mayor said he had found a structural engineer from Summersville to inspect the municipal building.
“He came and inspected the building, mainly the roof, but he looked at a couple of other things,” said Smith.
“I met with him to go onto the roof and we walked around on both sections of the roof and looked at repairs that were done,” town recorder Robin Mutscheller told council members. “Walking around on the roof, it was very quick to determine the new roof that was put on is in a condition of near failure. Some of the areas that he walked on, you could actually feel the wood that was underneath giving way. He took measurements and notes while he was on the roof, took pictures. He came in and looked at the other side of the trusses and everything underneath the roof, and said he does not see any concern with the structure of the original roof, but the new roof must be replaced.”
Smith said he asked the engineer for a report before Monday night's council meeting, but hadn't received it yet. He said once he receives the report, council members can start getting estimates for the project.
Mutscheller said there may be long-term savings involved with replacing the roof.
“They have insulation systems that would make the building more efficient. I asked him to calculate the benefit to the new roof so we have an idea of what the cost savings would be,” she said.
Smith and Mutscheller agreed the engineer was very thorough, and they were impressed with his work.
During the public input portion of the council meeting, local business owner Nelson Hernandez asked council members for an update on the Army Corps of Engineers flood project.
“The only thing I know, the corps of engineers were in town the week between Christmas and New Year's,” said Smith. “I did not see them, they did not come by here. They were doing some surveying or something up on Tannery Row.”
“They're going to bring a few folks around and tour the entire site,” offered Mutscheller. “As far as I know, there has been no monies appropriated at the federal level, and I know the West Virginia Conservation District has expressed their feelings that they don't want to manage the funds for our project. The state, as far as I know, is not happy that the Corps has not moved forward with the project.”
“Who would manage it if they don't want to manage the money?” asked Hernandez.
“We brought forward an alternative —The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation," explained Mutscheller. The board of directors met with representatives from the conservation district, and there was no problem doing that. There's really not much that the Town of Marlinton can do but ask and try and push the project along with the Army Corps of Engineers.”
Mutscheller said she has met with business leaders in the community and asked for their support by sending letters, requesting assistance from the federal and state government.
Marlinton resident Mark Strauss asked council members who was responsible for maintaining the sidewalks on the West Virginia Route 39 bridge in town.
“Snow removal was great throughout the town this last two storms, thank you for that,” said Strauss. “My only concern was the bridge going over the Greenbrier. The sidewalks weren't cleaned. Who is responsible for that?”
“The state does it,” answered Smith. “The town will do it when we have man power and what not, but generally speaking in past years, the department of highways does it utilizing prisoners from Denmar.”
“This was an icy storm,” said Strauss. “It was bad and it's still bad. This is two weeks later and there's still ice patches. It is a hazard. I've noticed people walking in the street because of the ice on the bridge, but I understand it's not a town issue.”
Council member Louise Barnisky said she had concerns about water flowing under one of the banks in town.
“I was in public when some people were talking about their water bills,” said Barnisky. “It was brought to my attention, and asked if I knew about it. There is water running under the bank over here.”
Council members discussed whether or not to renew a six-month contract with the West Virginia State Police.
“I'd like to say I had a personal occasion to dial 911,” said Mutscheller. “I can say the state police were on the scene in five minutes or less. The perpetrators were apprehended about five minutes later. I was extremely thankful and extremely impressed.”
“I think they're doing a good job,” agreed Smith. “As it is right now, they work Friday night and Saturday night and two nights during the week at their choosing.”
Council members voted unanimously to renew the contract.
Hernandez updated the council about advertising signs that will be hung on the black lamp posts in town. After a previous signage committee meeting, Smith and council member Norris Long said they were under the impression the signs would be hung on the grey, traffic light poles in town.
“That actually throws a little cog in what our committee recommendation was,” said Long. “I think we need more info, clarification.”
“You want to know if it can go on the signal pole instead of the light pole? I can get an e-mail to you probably in a couple days,” said Hernandez.
“Speaking of that, when is the one [light pole] going to be replaced? The one that was knocked down?” asked council member Loretta Malcombe.
“They are on order, two of them,” replied Smith.
Barnisky updated council members on her recommendations to maintain the municipal building.
“I went around and looked at the building, and it's bad — the cleanliness,” said Barnisky. “I was shocked to death. My suggestion to Joe [Smith] is that we hire someone to come in here and help get it cleaned up, and keep this place cleaned up. I'm going to make a recommendation that we hire Angela Irvine and I'll be more than glad to come up with her when she comes and talk with her and see what needs to be done.”
Council members voted unanimously to hire Irvine as a part-time, custodial services employee for the town.
Mutscheller talked with council members about the $25 fire fee paid by town residents.
“I personally put that on the agenda after I read an article about Rainelle's fire fees,” said Mutscheller. “Rainelle was looking at raising their fire fee, the residential fee from $30 to $48 and their business fee from $60 to $96 annually.”
“We're the only municipality in Pocahontas County with a fire fee,” explained Smith. “I think it needs to be reviewed. It's most definitely true that the fire department's cost of operating today is a lot higher than it was back in the 80s or whenever it was originally adopted. I think it's time the County Fire Board, the three municipalities, and the six or seven fire departments in the county put some pressure onto the county to adopt a county-wide fire fee.”