Jaynell Graham\r\nEditor\r\n\r\nMarlinton Town Council voted Monday night to reinstate penalties and shut-offs for unpaid water and sewer bills.\r\nPenalties and shut-offs were discontinued in March due to an increase in the county\u2019s unemployment numbers brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. \r\n\r\nFrom March until October 31, unpaid water bills stood at $31,591, while sewer bills added another $17,108 to uncollected town revenue. \r\n\r\nRecorder BJ Gudmundsson said the town had continued the policy for several months, and she is concerned that there are families that will get in a situation where they will not be able to pay the amount they owe.\r\n\r\nGudmundsson made a motion that the penalties and cut-offs, with proper notification, be put back into effect immediately.\r\n\r\nCouncil unanimously approved the motion.\r\n\r\nIn other business regarding town utilities, Susan Riggs with Spillman, Thomas and Battle, PLLC, presented information for the third and final reading of the town\u2019s new Sewer Rate Ordinance, part of which is as follows: \r\n\r\nNOTICE is hereby given that the Town of Marlinton has adopted by ordinance, on January 4, 2021, a tariff of the Sewer Utility of the Town of Marlinton containing increased rates and charges for furnishing sewer service to approximately 666 customers in and around the Town of Marlinton in the County of Pocahontas.\r\n\r\nThe proposed increase in rates and charges will become effective 45 days after the date of adoption of the ordinance, unless otherwise ordered by the Public Service Commission, and will produce approximately $64,000 annually in additional revenue, an increase of 26%. The average monthly bill for the various classes of customers will be changed (increased) as follows:\r\n\r\nResidential (3,599 gallons) \u2013 $8.03\r\nCommercial (11,559 gallons) \u2013\u00a0$25.78\t\r\nPublic Authority (15,258 gallons) \u2013\u00a0$34.03\t\r\n\r\nFull details can be found in the block legal ad on page 8 of this edition of The Pocahontas Times.\r\n\r\nRiggs said the ordinance will bring the town into compliance so it can move forward with the proposed Sewer Improvement Project. \r\n\r\nCouncilmember Scott Gibb moved to approve the ordinance, seconded by councilmember Gail Hyer. Councilmember Chris Curry opposed the motion.\r\n\r\nMarlinton Fire and Rescue Chief Herby Barlow presented the department\u2019s activity report for 2020, and advised council that the MVFD remains in good standing with the state Fire Marshal\u2019s Office.\r\n\r\nThe department has 27 members on its roster at this time, and they responded to 663 calls in 2020, up from previous years.\r\n\r\nBarlow said that they have transported several possible COVID patients, therefore ambulances are thoroughly disinfected after each run.\r\n\r\nSome members have taken the COVID vaccine, but Barlow said to do so is strictly voluntary.\r\n\r\nEMS responded to 477 calls, excluding vehicle accidents with injury, which accounted for another 15 responses.\r\n\r\nThere are currently three fires of suspicious nature under investigation with the fire marshal\u2019s and sheriff\u2019s offices.\r\n\r\nThe department also responded to 36 calls to secure the helicopter landing zone at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.\r\n\r\nMarlinton Police Officer Ian Galloway submitted his written report for the month of December, showing he responded to 45 calls including 18 traffic stops, resulting in two arrests, three assists on arrests and four tickets.\r\n\r\nThe nature of the calls ran the gamut from assault\/battery and a domestic situation to welfare checks and a missing person. \r\nIn other business, council\r\n\r\n\u2022 denied a request for another streetlight in Campbelltown, as the distance between lights is the same as those in town\r\n\r\n\u2022 approved payment of $27,910 for engineering related costs associated with the town\u2019s Water Improvement Project\r\n\r\n\u2022 readopted the 2015 International Property Maintenance Code at the recommendation of Zach Graham, the town\u2019s Code Enforcement Officer and Floodplain Coordinator.\r\n\r\nMarlinton Town Council meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of each month, holidays excluded. At this time, meetings are held via Zoom and teleconference. Contact the town office at 304-799-4315 for access info and meeting agenda.