During its meeting on Monday afternoon, community improvement group GoMarlinton discussed ending its participation with the OnTrac program. OnTrac is a prerequisite program for communities that wish to become Main Street West Virginia communities. Main Street West Virginia, a program administered by the West Virginia Department of Commerce, assists communities with economic revitalization of commercial districts.
Eighteen months ago, Marlinton Town Council approved entering the OnTrac program, with GoMarlinton as the lead agency. GoMarlinton held meetings with OnTrac officials, organized committees, and completed initial training sessions. Since then, volunteers have become bogged down with the program’s reporting requirements.
Several members expressed displeasure with OnTrac during Monday’s meeting.
“It’s a typical governmental program that buries you in paperwork and you get squat,” said Dennis Driscoll. “I have been trying to figure out how to make it easier and you can’t.”
“We were getting a lot more done when we were just GoMarlinton,” said B.J. Gudmundsson. “There were results and things that people could see.”
“We had a couple of people who actually resigned after we got involved with OnTrac,” said GoMarlinton chairman Darren Jackson. “It was fun when it was just GoMarlinton, but then it got to be too bureaucratic and they didn’t think it was fun anymore.”
Gudmundsson said the OnTrac partnership could prevent GoMarlinton from obtaining 501c(3) non-profit tax status from the Internal Revenue Service.
“The IRS came back to us after we applied for the 501c(3) and said we really classify as a 501c(6),” she said. “That is the same category as the Chamber of Commerce. The only benefit that I can ascertain is that we don’t have to pay sales tax on things that we buy.”
Roger Trusler advised against quitting the program.
“I’ve worked with enough federal programs to know that you’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops,” he said. “So you just suck it up and jump through the hoops. Personally, I’d like to see us go in the Main Street direction.
Gudmundsson criticized Marlinton Town Council for opposing OnTrac and GoMarlinton.
“They’ve never been onboard; they never supported this,” she said. “They never wanted GoMarlinton to do this. They never liked GoMarlinton. They never will as long as they’re up there.”
Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith is not a GoMarlinton member but attended the meeting for another agenda item.
“This council had the opportunity to be a proactive council and they have not done it,” he said.
Gudmundsson agreed to visit Sutton, an OnTrac community since 2009, to obtain advice on how to deal with the program’s burdensome reporting requirements. GoMarlinton tabled action on OnTrac until it receives a report from Gudmundsson.
Smith was present to discuss plans for a Fourth of July celebration and request assistance from GoMarlinton to support the event. The mayor said the event will feature live music, games, contests and free watermelon and ice cream at Gazebo Park from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Smith said a 20-minute fireworks show would begin at 10 p.m. The make-up date for the fireworks show is Saturday, July 12.
GoMarlinton members agreed to support the event. Smith will also request assistance from Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation.
Anyone who wants to improve the Marlinton area is urged to attend GoMarlinton meetings. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for July 21 at 5 p.m., at the Family Resource Center on Third Avenue.