Town Council reviews donation requests, update on depot reconstruction
Mayor Joe Smith updated town council members with the latest news during the mayor's report at Marlinton Town Council's regular meeting Monday night.
"The town clean up, in my opinion, was a success even though we didn't get everything done that we had hoped to get done," Smith told council members. "But we will continue to work on getting it finished."
According to Smith, the town picked up several tons of debris from throughout the area.
Smith said the 2012 Great Greenbrier River Race was a success, with only a few problems that he will address with race organizers and sponsors before next year's race.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection inspected the town's sewage plant and a report will be issued soon.
"Verbally everything was good except some signage for the CSO [combined sewage overflow] discharge, [the sign] had to be re-worded and changed, and that's no big thing," said Smith.
Smith said the town is working on an emergency water action plan, and was surprised to find that one didn't already exist.
"Believe it or not, the town did not have an emergency plan in place in case there is a massive contamination of Knapps Creek," Smith reported. "An oil tanker wrecks, fertilizer truck overturns and what not. So I've contacted the director of EMS, Melvin Martin, and 911, Shawn Dunbrack, and the fire chief, and we will, this week, put together a plan in case the whole stream gets contaminated. There's just none in place, I'm surprised, but there's not."
Smith said the West Virginia Rural Water Association will hold their 27th conference at Snowshoe August 11 to 15.
Marlinton will also be involved with a conference the week before.
"This next thing took me by surprise," said Smith. "But Marlinton will be the host community for the West Virginia Municipal League Conference at Snowshoe August the 7th through the 10th. The town requested the conference be here two years ago, and we will have it. The town will have some involvement in it. I need to have a committee."
Smith appointed a committee consisting of Cara Hefner and town council member David Zorn.
"We need to put together a program of things they can do besides attending meetings within the county," Smith said. "I think it's a great thing where the county will have the opportunity to showcase themselves."
During the public input portion of the meeting, Matt McPeak made a request to board members for a donation for the Little League baseball program.
"The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has given $1,500 towards the purchase of a scoreboard for down here at the field [Stillwell Park]," said McPeak. "I was wanting to ask the town if they could put some money to help us purchase this. I feel about $2,000 would cover the cost of finalizing the scoreboard and enough materials to install it."
McPeak provided a cost estimate from Varsity Scoreboards, located in Murray, Kentucky. McPeak figured the project could save some money by installing the scoreboard using volunteers.
"The sponsor banner, we feel we could do with a few sheets of plywood," said McPeak. "Whoever sponsored the scoreboard would get their name put on it and it'll be there from now on. I think it'll be good for the town to get these different teams in from around our district or even around the state to come in, stay here, eat here. It's a win for the kids you know."
Smith agreed with McPeak, but reminded council members the issue was not on the meeting agenda and therefore no action could be taken that evening.
"I can see potential to have a lot of visitors to Marlinton," said Smith. "Especially if they were able to sponsor state tournaments in Little League. I hope the council would take it under advisement."
Council member Norris Long asked McPeak what is currently being used. McPeak told board members that there is no existing scoreboard at Stillwell Park, and that scoring and stats are kept by hand.
Nelson Hernandez, of Marlinton, addressed the board regarding tractor trailer parking in town near the Farmer's Market.
"I came to understand that that's actually designated truck parking from way back," said Hernandez. "I was wondering if the council would like to look into finding an alternative place to park tractor trailers as opposed to the mini-park. That's something you see as soon as you come into town."
"That's the only one [truck] that we have that parks there," Smith responded. "It's been designated for years, it's nothing new. It's designated for in-town people, it's not designated for transits that need a place to layover for the night. The gentleman that owns that truck, he lives in town. We have an ordinance against tractors and trailers being on our streets, so the town council several years ago designated that as a parking area for in-town residents to park their trucks. He's the only one I know of."
Smith said that he approached J.P. Duncan, who leases the former Hanover shoe factory lot (ARC), about allowing tractor trailers to park there. Smith said Duncan had no problem with the idea.
"That's sort of out of the way up there," Smith explained. "Like I say, I've talked to him [the truck driver], he had no problem with parking up there if he needed to, and J.P. Duncan had no problem with him parking up there if he needed to."
Smith discussed a recent request for a donation from the Parks and Recreation department for the new wellness center in town.
"They are asking for a consideration for a donation," said Smith. "This is a sizable donation back out of the B & O [business and occupation] tax."
Smith said the town stands to make roughly $58,000 from the B & O tax for the almost $3 million project.
"I'm going to recommend to the council that we donate $50,000 to this project," suggested Smith. "Instead of us collecting $58,000, we will collect $8,000, and $50,000 would remain in the project."
"I kind of like Joe's plan here on it," said Long. "It's not money we were banking on. I will make a motion that we provide a $50,000 donation to the parks and recreation for this project coming from our B & O."
Council member Louise Barnisky was opposed to the idea.
"We just recently had an architect in here, a company in here, telling us how bad our water plant is and what we need for that," said Barnisky. "We know that the sidewalks are falling apart. I'm an old-timer and I'm worried that we've neglected the water plant and what's gonna happen one of these days when it ceases to run?"
Because the subject of the water plant was raised by Barnisky, Smith updated council members on a recent application for funding through the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.
"I have, through Region IV, asked for $150,000 to upgrade the water plant," said Smith. "W.D. Smith, who we all know I believe, feels very confident that we'll get that money once we get the engineer's specs put together."
"If you look at it, for the growth of the town, what the town needs for growth, it's nice," commented Zorn. "But I think infrastructure is a little more important to bring people here, to stay here."
Council members allowed Hernandez to ask a question regarding the matter.
"How important do you feel this wellness center is going to be to the community? I often here about, 'there's nothing for kids to do' and so on," said Hernandez.
"I think it's very important to the community," answered Smith. "To begin with, it gives the elementary school a gymnasium and exercise facilities that they do not have now. They will use it during the daytime. In the evenings, at nighttime and on weekends, it's open to the general public. Within this wellness center there is a basketball court, a handball court, a weight room, and other facilities that I think will get a great deal of use."
"A lot of people don't recognize that the Board of Education is putting into this project as well," added Long. "Because they will be taking care of the utilities on the building, the liability - the insurance. That will be taken care of by them because it's on their property and they will also be using it. There is cooperation going on."
Zorn questioned whether the new wellness center should be a priority over municipal infrastructure projects.
"Let's say I'm an investor and I want to invest in this town or move to this town," said Zorn. "Am I going to move here because they have a nice wellness center or am I going to move here because there is good infrastructure, a good water plant, and things like that?"
"How many people have you heard say, 'well I'm not gonna move to West Virginia or Pocahontas County because the education system is not very good?'" Smith asked council members. "This falls
into the educational system. I'm going to recommend that we make that donation."
Zorn said he supported the idea, but not the amount requested.
"I still want it, but I would like the dollar amount to be not that big. Maybe $25 or $30,000," Zorn said.
Council member Natasha McMann agreed with Zorn.
"Could we maybe rescind it [the motion] and make it $25,000?" asked McMann.
Council members first voted on the motion for $50,000, but the motion failed with council member Long being the sole supporter. Zorn then made a motion for a $25,000 donation that passed, 4-1, Barinsky cast the nay vote.
Long said he spoke with a fisheries biologist at Elkins regarding the Greenbrier trout stocking project.
"He said that they would not stock it because it is not a suitable stream for stocking at this location, particularly in the summertime," said Long. "People can stock throughout the state at their own convenience. It's done a lot down in southern West Virginia by the coal companies, because they are providing recreation facilities for their employees, basically. The fisheries biologist was adamant about saying 'why was it needed?' We have so so many other places here in Pocahontas County for trout fishing. He felt that it was not really a necessary project and I don't believe there has been any added income to the community because of it."
No council members made a motion to support the trout stocking project, and the agenda item was dropped for a lack of motion.
Smith discussed trash removal with council members. According to Smith, the Pocahontas County Solid Waste Authority's rate-increase proposal to increase county tipping fees by 30% was approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission. The increase amounts to approximately $15 more per ton for haulers and customers dumping larger loads.
"We need to seriously start looking at something now since they got their approval," said Smith. "I would like to appoint a committee to review the information that I handed out to you, plus, get with the accountant possibly through the office, and get a new work-up with new costs and what not, and have something ready to look at and possibly take action on at the next meeting. So we just need to look at an increase to at least break even on it."
Smith appointed council members Long and McMann to the committee.
Council members held a second reading of the town parking ordinance and the ordinance was approved unanimously.
Long brought an outdated store ordinance to the council's attention. The ordinance, Chapter 3, title 5-306, 5-307 and 5-3308, restricts most businesses from operating on Sundays.
"The portions are basically archaic," said Long. "If it were to be maintained, there are some businesses that still would be prohibited from conducting business on Sunday. That could come up on a legal issue. It is my recommendation that this council eliminate, delete, rescind, those three sections of this ordinance."
Smith agreed to research the process to remove the three sections from the store ordinance.
McMann submitted a proposal to council members for the new town recycling program. McMann's proposal included price estimates from Glades Building Supply and blueprints for five wooden boxes that would be used to separate glass, plastics, cans and paper. McMann asked council members for permission to apply for a $75,000 grant to get the project underway. Council members asked McMann to proceed with the grant application and thanked her for her work on the project.
Smith updated council members with the most recent progress regarding the depot reconstruction project. Smith said the contractor from Morgantown would be in town on Tuesday this week to find housing arrangements for his employees and places to park his trailers and store equipment. Smith said the reconstruction is scheduled to be completed by October of this year. According to Smith, the contractor asked him whether there was a good roofing contractor, plumbing contractor and electrician available locally for the project.
Marlinton Town Council is scheduled to meet again at 7 p.m., June 4, at the Marlinton Municipal Building.
Angelo Jiordano can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org