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Marlinton Council outlaws un-diapered horses

As a result of complaints about horse manure on streets following Pioneer Days, Marlinton Town Council is outlawing horses without “diapers.” Council unanimously approved a revision to its animal ordinance, on first reading, during its meeting on Monday night.

Councilmember Norris Long talked about complaints he had received.

“The complaints I received right after Pioneer Days were due to the fact that there was a lot of horse poop on the highway – Second Avenue and Main Street, in particular,” he said. “The source of one of those was a horse in the parade that had not registered.”

The current town animal ordinance allows horse riding in town if the horse wears a diaper or if a person follows behind to immediately clean up the mess. Long said he had discussed the issue with members of the Pioneer Days committee and proposed either a complete ban on horses in town or a requirement for horses to wear diapers.

“I’d hate to see the total elimination of horses, but we need to correct this problem,” said Long.

Council voted 6-0 to require diapers on horses in town. The ordinance revision will take effect if approved after a second reading. Violators will be subject to a penalty of $100 for a first offense; $200 for a second offense; $300 for a third offense and $500 for more than a third offense. Court costs will be added to any fines.

The ordinance does not affect horse riding on the Greenbrier River Trail State Park. The Village of Watertown, New York, rejected a similar proposal in 2012 because of complaints it would discriminate against the local Amish community. Horse manure bags are available online starting at $40.

Council considered action on the inactive town Building Commission. Council formed the Building Commission in November 2003, “to direct and oversee the creation of a community center in Marlinton.” The commission obtained grant money and donations and purchased a downtown lot for $151,500. In pursuit of its mission to build a community center, the commission cleared a dilapidated gas station and underground fuel tanks from the lot, which is adjacent to the Pocahontas County Opera House.

Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation became the lead agency for construction of a community center and chose a different site, next to Marlinton Elementary School, which enabled a partnership with the Board of Education for upkeep of the facility.

The Building Commission took no further action and became inactive as its members’ terms expired.

Mayor Joe Smith said Council needs to reactivate the Commission.

“They have some funds and they own the corner lot beside the Opera House,” said Smith. “We need to reactivate this commission so that they can do what they want to do – either dispose of that property by giving it to the town, or whatever – and dispose of their funds by donating it to somebody else or giving it to the town or whatever they want to do.”

The Building Commission has $9395.47 remaining in its account. Councilmember Louise Barnisky, participating via teleconference, asked if money donated to the Commission by local groups should be returned.

“I was on that committee to give it to them when I was with Senior Citizens,” she said. “We gave them $5,000 – I’m positive that that’s what it was. They said, if it did not materialize and they didn’t get something built, that it would be returned to the company or the person who donated it.”

“They have a little bit of money,” said Smith. “The bulk of the money was used to buy the property. There’s no way they can return it to everybody, because the wellness center, in essence, took its place.”

After further discussion, Council tabled the issue and asked the Mayor to obtain legal advice for the appointment of new members to the Building Commission.”

Council approved a Health and Sanitation ordinance on third reading, placing the ordinance immediately in effect. Recorder Robin Mutscheller and Barnisky voted in opposition. Mutscheller previously expressed concern about property inspections and entry onto property allowed under the ordinance

Council considered a donation to Allegheny Mountain Radio. Councilmember David Zorn moved to donate $400 to the public radio network, but the motion failed for lack of a second.

During the Mayor’s Report, Smith said the State Fire Marshal had inspected Hillside Apartments on Tenth Avenue, but that he had not received an inspection report. The mayor said the State Auditor had completed the annual inspection of the town’s finances, which revealed no significant problems. The only discrepancy reported was the segregation of certain financial tasks, which the town cannot accomplish due to a limited number of employees.

In other business, Marlinton Council:
– Voted 6-0 to advertise for a part-time building custodian;
– Voted 6-0 to donate $1,500 to McClintic Library; and,
– Tabled action on a donation to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s capital campaign.

Council will conduct a special meeting on Monday, October 13 to review and act on tree trimming propoals and hiring an acting / temporary building inspector.

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