Sign debate drags on
Earlier in the week, Marlinton town council members received a recommendation from the town sign committee on how to best proceed with hanging business signs in town.
Last year, local business owners hung small, blue, directional signs in town offering dining and lodging options. The signs were removed by the town after the West Virginia Division of Highways deemed the signs illegal because of the size of the lettering.
The issue has dragged on for more than a year, with little to show for it.
“Dave [Zorn] did follow up with Danny Young [of the Division of Highways]. He was informed of an alternative not previously presented to the council,” council member Norris Long said. “The placement of arrow-directional signs indicating dining, lodging and special points of interest can be approved — at no cost — to anyone.”
Sign committee members Long and Zorn had planned to present three options for council members to vote on: no signs at all, non-business-specific directional signs, or personalized signs for individual businesses.
Committee member and local business owner Nelson Hernandez said he wasn't able to attend the last committee meeting because he was out of town.
“Of seven members, only three showed up — less than half,” said Hernandez. “I don't believe there were enough committee members there to even discuss this. Is that the proper thing to do? Two people can get together and make a decision for a committee of six or seven?”
Hernandez questioned the intentions of some of the other appointed members.
“Mr. Zorn, let me ask you something. We know now with the SMS [specific motorist services] signs, you were not eligible for a sign. Are you eligible for a sign under this program? This one you came up with? We might need to find a different chairperson, there seems to be some conflict here,” Hernandez said.
“A few weeks ago, councilman Zorn calls Dan Young, and says 'no, we don't want them on those posts. We want them on the black posts.' At this point, Mr. Young took our contracts — that he's been working on — and discarded them. He basically said 'when you guys get this figured out, let us know.' Now here we are with these options that the committee doesn't know anything about. This is just going on and on. This is getting extremely frustrating.”
Hernandez asked council members whether mayor Smith could write a letter to the division of highways supporting signs in the town of Marlinton.
“If the council wants me to write a letter like that, I will,” Smith responded. “This thing has been hashed out too long. I'm tired of the whole issue. You all have one month to make a proposal — by a committee. The committee is Nelson [Hernandez], Norris [Long], Dave [Zorn], Drew [Tanner], Jonathan [Gibson] and Robin [Mutscheller]. Come the March meeting, if there's no proposal, I will write a letter that we want no signs in this town. Period.”
Smith appointed Long as the new chairman for the sign committee, partly because he has no business interests in town.
Council members hear about flooding
“Last Wednesday or Thursday we came close to a flooding problem,” Smith said. “We had minor flooding in some of the low-lying areas. I haven't talked to anyone that got water in their basement other than seepage. As usual, our basement in this building [Marlinton Municipal], due to seepage, got a lot of water in it, which happens almost every time it rains.”
Update from engineering firm Potesta and Associates.
“There's two things I wanted to update you on,” said Dave Sharp, engineer with Potesta. “One was the CSO [combined sewer overflow] project and where we're at with that. Basically we're waiting for the accountant to get the Rule 42 completed so we can work with the rates and the project cost. The one thing they need in order to do that is a 2012 PSC [public service commission] annual report. They need those numbers so they can work their magic and finalize the Rule 42.”
According to the PSC website, a Rule 42 is an application to change or alter rates. Sharp said the other project Potesta is working on is a review of the town water plant.
“We've got a list of everything that we're going to recommend to be replaced and upgraded at the plant,” offered Sharp. “We're in the process of costing some of that stuff out. Certainly, before the next meeting, we can finalize our assessment of the plant and provide you with the estimated cost.”
Town makes donation to Farmers Market
Mayor Smith discussed a recent donation request from the Pocahontas County Farmers Market. Vendor Doug Bernier attended the council meeting on behalf of the Farmers Market.
“The Farmers Market is trying to be independently, self-sufficient — financially,” Smith told council members. “One of the ways they hope to raise money is they're going to put together a community-type of cookbook and sell them. What they're asking for is a $50 donation toward the printing of the cookbook.”
Mutscheller said anybody who makes a donation gets a free copy of the cookbook. Long suggested the town donate their copy of the cookbook to the McClintic Library if council members voted in favor of the request. Council members voted unanimously to make a $50 donation for printing of the cookbook.
New town garbage rates
“At the last meeting I had reported that the new rates went into effect and there had been very little complaints,” Smith said. “Well since that time, there have been complaints. We need to take a firm stand one way or the other.
“We have some businesses that are only open one day a week,” he said. “We had some businesses that said we've only got one bag of garbage a week. We've had some businesses come forward that said 'I put my garbage in so-and-so's bin because I have so little.' Do we want to begin looking at individual businesses and make exceptions? Or are we going to stand firm on what the garbage rates are?”
Council members voted to keep the rates the same.
Raise for town employees
Personnel from the town wage committee made a recommendation to council members regarding a 1.7% cost of living adjustment for town employees. Council members voted in favor of the wage increase.