A variety of issues belabored at painfully long MTC meeting

Jaynell Graham

Marlinton Town Council held a long meeting Monday night. Issues with Zoom and teleconference made the meeting seem even more so for those attending remotely.

By the end of the two and a half hour meeting, council took the following actions:

Set Trick or Treat in the Town of Marlinton for Saturday, October 31, from 5 to 7 p.m.

While council cannot mandate how individuals approach this annual event, councilmember Joe Smith presented some recommendations. Once council reviews those recommend- ations, they will be published in this newspaper as a guide for safe Trick or Treating.

Recorder BJ Gudmundsson reminded council that the governor’s limit on the number of people who can congregate still stands at 25.

Council voted to extend the pause on water cut-offs and late fees until the first of the year.

It was noted that several of the town’s water customers are not paying at this time and not asking about a payment plan because they know their water will not be cut off.

Council voted to draft a letter to remind people whose accounts are in arrears that, just because they are not getting cut off or being charged a late fee at this time doesn’t mean they don’t owe the money, because they do owe it.

It was noted that there are people who make it hard on those who are trying to do the right thing. 

Wayne Hypes, president of Dunn Engineering, gave an update on the current status of the Water Improvement project.

Looking forward to the town’s next infrastructure project, council approved a motion to open a bank account for the Sewer Improvement Project. The town treasurer will designate which bank will hold that account. The account will have the same signators as the Water Improvement Project and will also include John Tuggle, Executive Director of  Region IV Planning and Development.  

Eric Pories, a community coach for White Sulphur Springs and Marlinton for the Mon Forest Town project, addressed council about HubCAP IV’s work to inspire and support community efforts to build on the Mon Town designation.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cara Rose reported on the effects of COVID on the county’s hotel/motel tax as well as how outdoor recreation has attracted visitors to the area.

Rose said while there has been a 16 percent drop in hotel/motel tax, collections are still within the three year average. The full effects of the virus on the economy will not be seen until next year.

She noted that revenue was down by 30 percent in August, but many attractions and restaurants were closed or occupancy reduced for a period of time. In addition, two businesses have closed, and one is closed for this season, but will reopen next year.

“The GBO and Cranberry Visitor Center also chose not to reopen at this time,” Rose said. “But we hope to see things back to a normal operation by springtime.

“Community Surveys have helped us to understand the sentiment of the people of the county. In May, people were concerned about other people coming into the county. In July, people were less concerned. There is a new survey out now.

“We have all been impacted by COVID, but our recreation economy is sustaining us right now,” she concluded.

After a long and involved back and forth between Marlinton business owner Crystal Dean and council concerning construction of her cabins on First Avenue and confusion resulting from permits and paperwork, council approved a motion by Smith to lift the stop work order against her.

Council  heard from a representative from Old Mountain Tavern concerning a request to be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages on the front deck of that establishment. Council advised that the Tavern owner needed to submit a revised application to the Alcohol Beverage Commission for approval. 

Mayor Sam Felton said the town abides by the ABC’s rulings.

In other business, according to Gudmundsson:

• Council voted to hire Daniel McGee, III as the town’s Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector/Floodplain Coordinator.

• Approved a $500 donation to McClintic Library.

Marlinton Town Council meets the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the municipal auditorium.

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