Published On: Wed, May 7th, 2014

Litterbug junkies in the Mini-Park?

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Officials from Region IV, Jobs Development Council briefed Marlinton Town Council Monday night with details of a $4.35 million grant/loan application for upgrades to the town water plant and water tanks. Pictured, l-r: Cassandra Hughart, Region IV administrative assistant, Councilmember Sue Helton, Councilmember Louise Barnisky and Recorder Robin Mutscheller.

Officials from Region IV, Jobs Development Council briefed Marlinton Town Council Monday night with details of a $4.35 million grant/loan application for upgrades to the town water plant and water tanks. Pictured, l-r: Cassandra Hughart, Region IV administrative assistant, Councilmember Sue Helton, Councilmember Louise Barnisky and Recorder Robin Mutscheller.

Discarded hypodermic needles have become a safety hazard for town employees assigned to clean up Marlinton’s Mini-Park. Marlinton Town Council discussed the issue during its meeting on Monday evening.

Mayor Joe Smith asked council for ideas how to address the issue.

“At the Mini-Park, the issue over there is the abundance of needles that have been discarded,” said the Mayor. “I sent a town crew over there to clean it up before the river festival and to pick up garbage and they was almost afraid to pick any of them things up. So, I went and got them some leather gloves. They had these plastic gloves and they was real hesitant on even doing anything with it. In the fireplace in the little shelter, there were probably 20 needles. It was just plum full of needles.”

Councilmember Norris Long said more police patrols had been requested.

“Whenever this issue came up before, council requested that the State Police provide more patrols in that area,” he said. “I have not noticed any increased patrols.”

Councilmember Louise Barnisky said suspicious activity continues in the park.

“You’d be surprised what goes on down there at night,” she said. “Late in the evening and noise. Cars all night and screeching and screaming all the time.”

Smith suggested installing a dusk-to-dawn light to illuminate the area.

“I’m a firm believer that light deters problems,” he said.

Long and Councilmember Sue Helton agreed.

“I think a light would deter a lot better than somebody sitting out there in a cop car,” said Long.

“I think the light’s a good idea,” said Helton. “Light does deter crime.”

Council directed the mayor to install the security light and to speak to the State Police again about increasing patrols at the Mini-Park.

Council moves ahead with grant/loan application

Council conducted a public hearing on a Small Cities Block Grant application, that the town is submitting to obtain funds to upgrade the town water plant and tanks.

Region IV Jobs Development Council Executive Director John Tuttle and Administrative Assistant Cassandra Hughart requested council action on the combined grant/loan application. The town is requesting $1.5 million in Block Grant funds, along with $2.8 million in low interest loans, to fund the upgrades.
Smith said the town would seek other grants to reduce the amount of loans.

“There’s a lot of sources out there,” he said. “It’s just that all projects don’t fall under the guidelines that we have to meet for our project. But there are other sources, other than Small Cities Block Grant and the IJDC.”

Council approved three resolutions necessary to move forward with the application. Tuttle said the grant awards would be announced in December or January.

Council approves wild animal feeding prohibition

Council considered an ordinance prohibiting town residents from feeding wild animals.

“DNR does recommend that we adopt this type of ordinance,” said Smith. “This would totally forbid the feeding of wild game in the corporate limits. DNR feels if you do not feed them, you will lose some of the population because they will go somewhere else.”

“I am a proponent of this ordinance,” said Long. “If you can’t have a hunt, you’ve got to stop the feeding,” he said.

Council voted down an urban deer hunt to reduce the town’s deer population last month.

Recorder Robin Mutscheller said some people enjoyed feeding deer.

“The folks at the nursing home derive a great deal of pleasure, and you know, when you get to be that age and confined to a facility like that, you don’t get much joy out of life,” she said. “What I was wondering is if there could be an exception, like we have exceptions here, if we could make one little place at the nursing home, but outlaw it every where else.”

Following further discussion, council voted 4-0 to approve the ordinance on first reading. Councilmembers David Zorn and Loretta Malcomb were not present.

Council seeks Building Commission members

Smith told council that he had not received the names of any candidates for the Town Building Commission. The defunct Building Commission owns a key parcel of real estate in the downtown business district, adjacent to the Pocahontas County Opera House. The town must re-form the commission to dispose of the property and any other Building Commission assets.

The mayor said original Building Commission member Ernie Shaw had expressed interest in serving, but that four more names are needed. According to Smith, Building Commission members may not serve on other public boards.

Councilmembers agreed to actively seek candidates for consideration at next month’s meeting. Any Marlinton residents interested in serving on the Building Commission should contact Mayor Smith.

In other business, Marlinton Council agreed to consider the purchase of streetlights during next month’s meeting, and authorized the Mayor to advertise for proposals for repair of the Municipal Building roof.

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com