Laura Dean Bennett
In his Mayor’s Report at Monday night’s Marlinton Town Council, Sam Felton said that it was 100 years ago, almost to the day, May 6, 1918, that the Marlinton Town Council held its first meeting in council chambers, with Mayor J. W. Milligan presiding.
He also noted that, interestingly, their first item of business at that meeting was the issuance of $10,000 in municipal bonds for the construction of a permanent building for the water and electric plant.
Returning to issues and business facing the town in this century, council heard input from the public, which included a complaint about dogs running loose and poor street conditions on Second Avenue.
Mark Strauss asked if the streetlight at Sixth Avenue near the Greenbrier River, which is not currently in use, could be relocated to First Avenue near J & P. Furniture, where a light is needed.
Strauss also noted that there are four vehicles which appear to have been abandoned on Ninth Avenue, the floodway trench behind his house on Second Avenue is not draining properly and there are people who would like to rent the municipal meeting hall, but need the projector screen to be operational for meetings.
The only committee reporting was from the Vacant Lot Committee.
Committee chair Joe Smith provided the Vacant Lot Committee’s new fundraising pamphlets to council and the public and presented several items of business from the committee.
As requested at a previous meeting, council appointed six new members to the committee: Luci Mosesso, Brittney Harris, Kristen LeCroy, Cynthia Sandena, Kirsten Beverage-Doss and David Moore. These individuals have been involved in the planning phase.
Smith said that fundraising has begun.
Mosesso gave a detailed presentation on the fundraising efforts and accomplishments thus far, including grants which the committee has received and grants for which it is applying.
Including private local donations, of which the largest was a $2,000 donation from the Marlinton Rotary Club, and grants from the forest service, Dominion Foundation and others, the committee has raised $72,700 so far.
Smith asked council to determine whether permanent rest rooms should be constructed as part of the park. Discussion and/or action regarding restrooms will be put on the agenda for a future meeting.
Smith says that Phase 1, including the “dirt work,” which will be done by the forest service, and the construction of the stage will commence sometime this year, probably soon after Pioneer Days. The lot will still be available for parking during this year’s Pioneer Days.
Smith also asked the council to appoint a project supervisor.
Mosesso will draft a letter for council, outlining the responsibilities of the project supervisor.
Council member Norris Long asked that he be allowed to discontinue serving on the committee.
Town attorney Bob Martin’s report to the council covered the issue of abandoned cars on the town’s streets.
Martin said the vehicles will be identified by citizen complaints and tagged. Steps to ascertain ownership and to have them removed will soon be underway.
He has reached a tentative agreement with a local business, that will, at no cost to the town, run inspection stickers, VIN and serial numbers through the DMV to obtain the name and addresses of the owners and whether there are any liens on the vehicles.
The town can then notify the owner/lien holder that the vehicle is considered abandoned and will be towed to a storage location.
Martin advised council that the building inspector will be legally tagging abandoned and uninhabitable houses in town.
Addressing the deteriorating condition of town roads, Martin said that, with few exceptions, all are the responsibility of the state. He said he spoke with Jamie Rossi of the DOH, who has agreed to repair four streets or avenues in town.
Regarding a Beard Heights water and sewer extension to include the hospital, Martin said that the annexation is done, but that Pocahontas Memorial Hospital must obtain the right-of- way for the distribution lines before the town can proceed.
In other business,
The Ordinance to Regulate and Manage Mountain View Cemetery with Amendments to provide for an increase in fees received a second reading, “by title only.”
The Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax Order, containing an amendment defining an exemption for properties that are rented for 30 days or more, was approved by the council and signed by the mayor.
Council voted to approve the agreement between the town and the Pocahontas County Saddle Club to establish a horse arena for horse shows within the town, on county property. The council directed town attorney Martin to draft a contract with the Saddle Club delineating the club’s insurance coverage and responsibilities regarding the upkeep of the property. The Saddle Club expects to host rodeos and horse shows throughout the year, including during Pioneer Days.
Awards of two contracts for the Water System Improvement Project were announced.
A contract for $3,536,000 was given to Orders Construction for work at the water plant.
Mid-Atlantic Storage Systems received the contract for tank work for the plant at a cost of $389,015
A motion to revise the town’s ordinance to allow keeping chickens in town was voted down.
The council heard Bob Martin explain his view of the ownership of the Courtney Avenue property.
Martin said that after researching the history of the property, and notwithstanding a previous court order made in error, it is legally owned jointly by the town and Dr. and Mrs. Johnny Mallow.
Council directed Martin to draft a letter to the Mallows explaining the town’s co-ownership of the property.
Council meets the first Monday of each month in council chambers on the upper floor of the Marlinton Municipal Building.