At least one good thing resulted from the devastating fire in Marlinton on November 10. Town residents and the local government were reminded how West Virginia communities rush to each other’s aid in a time of crisis.
Twenty fire departments, including the Marlinton Fire Department, responded to the downtown fire last month. To show its gratitude, during its Monday night meeting, Marlinton Council approved a $17,000 donation, to be divided among the 20 departments that assisted during the emergency. Council approved a budget resolution, transferring money for the donations from a health and sanitation fund to the fire department fund.
During the mayor’s report, Smith said demolition and removal of the burned Old Bank Building and Dirt Bean Building would begin as early as this weekend. Owners of those two building had coverage with the same insurance company. The mayor said he was working with the owner and the insurer of the Hudson Building to expedite its removal, as well. Smith said asbestos testing had been conducted on the rubble of the fire-razed structures, which did not indicate the presence of asbestos.
The mayor informed council that a major water leak – as great as 125,000 gallons per day – had been repaired near the intersection of Third Avenue and Main Street. The leak was difficult to detect because the water had been draining away in the town’s sewer system. Councilmember Louise Barnisky discovered the leak when she heard water leaking through the sewers, as she was working on the town’s street corner flower pots.
In other water-related matters, the mayor said Dunn Engineers would be providing a cost estimate on the installation of a check valve bypass, to allow water from Edray-Brush Country area water tanks to be routed to the downtown water system, in the event of a major fire. The mayor said fire trucks had to travel to Edray during the recent fire to fill up, after water in the downtown system ran low. No water was used from the more distant Brush Country tank.
Council unanimously approved a six-month extension of its contract with the West Virginia State Police for town law enforcement. Troopers will continue to patrol the town four days per week, for a total of 24 hours per week. The contract price is $45 per hour, or $1,080 per week.
Councilmember Norris Long said he had heard complaints that the State Police had refused to enforce town ordinances, especially the noise and animal ordinances. Mayor Joe Smith said the State Police were operating with the understanding that the County Animal Control Officer (ACO) was responsible for animal complaints. Councilmember Sue Helton remarked that the State Police are working for the town, so they should be enforcing town ordinances.
Councilmembers were uncertain about the ACO’s authority and responsibilities inside the town limits. Smith said he would check on the matter and also speak to the State Police about enforcement of town ordinances.
Councilmember David Zorn, who chairs a committee re-drafting a vacant structure ordinance, said the committee had met and recommended postponing action on the vacant structure ordinance, but going forward with a health and sanitation ordinance that deals with unsafe structures. The mayor said he would put the health and sanitation ordinance on the agenda for next month’s meeting.
Smith recommended that he, Zorn, former mayor Dennis Driscoll, B.J. Gudmundsson and Roger Trusler serve on a new town planning commission. The five-person commission will have the goal to establish long-term plans for the council and community. Councilmember Robin Mutscheller recommended advertising for other persons interested in serving on the commission. Smith agreed to advertise for candidates and council will consider commission appointments during its regular meeting in January.
The Marlinton Christmas Parade will begin Friday evening at 7 p.m. A tree lighting ceremony will be held prior to the parade at 6 p.m. The Marlinton Rotary Club will conduct its Pancake Dinner with Santa at the Marlinton Elementary School cafeteria, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Council will hold a special meeting on December 9 at 7 p.m. The next regular Marlinton Council meeting is scheduled for January 6 at 7 p.m.