Marlinton Town Council chamber was filled to near capacity June 30 for the swearing-in ceremony for the new mayor and council. Family and friends offered their enthusiastic support as Pocahontas County Clerk Melissa Bennett administered the oath of office to the mayor and each individual member of the council. Each pledged “to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of West Virginia, and the Ordinances of the Town of Marlinton” and to faithfully discharge the duties, to the best of their skill and judgment, of the office to which they were elected.  Pictured, l to r: councilmembers Mark Strauss and Sue Helton, recorder B.J. Gudmundsson, Mayor Sam Felton, councilmembers Adam Irvine, Don Morrison and Norris Long. J. Graham photo
Marlinton Town Council chamber was filled to near capacity June 30 for the swearing-in ceremony for the new mayor and council. Family and friends offered their enthusiastic support as Pocahontas County Clerk Melissa Bennett administered the oath of office to the mayor and each individual member of the council. Each pledged “to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of West Virginia, and the Ordinances of the Town of Marlinton” and to faithfully discharge the duties, to the best of their skill and judgment, of the office to which they were elected. Pictured, l to r: councilmembers Mark Strauss and Sue Helton, recorder B.J. Gudmundsson, Mayor Sam Felton, councilmembers Adam Irvine, Don Morrison and Norris Long. J. Graham photo

 
The newly elected mayor and Marlinton Town Council met Monday night and covered a lot of territory as it got down to business, discussing remedies for some troublesome issues and laying out plans to enhance the appearance of the town.
Mayor Sam Felton said he had an “interesting day-one and hit the ground running.”
He ended his first day in office with a meeting with town employees where he stressed safety and accountability.
“I suggested to the employees that, at this point, they know their jobs better than I do, which also tells me they know when they are not doing their jobs, and I was going to do mine to the best of my ability, and I expected them to continue to do the same,” Felton said. “And also, from a safety background, I stressed safety, safety. We all have a job to do, but be conscientious about doing it, be deliberate – meaning don’t waste steps, take your time, but be accountable.”
Felton told council that he had intended to bring a shovel to the meeting, a new, round-pointed shovel that he found last fall in the alley near his home. He said he kept waiting for someone to come by to reclaim it, but, so far, it is still leaning against the wall of his garage.
Felton used that as an example for the town employees saying, “when you use equipment, you need to be accountable for that equipment.”
For now, the employees are working on cleaning up and mowing as the town gets ready for Pioneer Days.
Felton visited the water plant on Monday and said he made some significant adjustments with regard to bulk water sales and how monies will be handled going forward.
He also took in some conditions at the water plant that are in need of attention.
Wayne Hipes, of Dunn Engineering, was present at the meeting to offer to meet at a convenient time with the new mayor and council concerning plans for upgrades and improvements to the water plant.
Hipes advised council about areas that need attention now – areas that cannot wait three years to be remedied.
Felton said he was greeted on his first day in office by a letter of violation from the Department of Environmental Protection concerning the burn pile at Stillwell. That area is used to burn brush, but individuals had dumped building materials there, leading to the violation for having an illegal dump.
Steps will be taken to prevent such things from happening in the future.
The Fire Fee Ordinance was on the agenda again, and council approved its first reading.
Passage of the ordinance requires three readings. In the meantime council and the Marlinton Fire Department will work out the kinks which include: a service area map approved by the county fire departments, supported by the State Fire Marshal, but, as yet, has not been approved by the Pocahontas County Commission; transfer to the town of titles for all equipment; and a written lease agreement between the town and MFD.
Councilmember and re-appointed council parliamentarian Sue Helton had several questions concerning the ordinance, the response area map and liability insurance for the department.
Fire Chief Herby Barlow advised council that emergency response personnel are covered by insurance from the time they leave their homes when responding to a call.
 
There was some confusion about response areas, whether departments are called because they are the closest to the need, or if they could be called according to the level of service they provide.
 
“When our tones go off,” Barlow said, “we don’t ask where we are going until we get here [the firehouse] and ask for directions.”
 
As for the Fire Fee Ordinance, Barlow said the department is willing to do whatever it takes for its passage.
 
Helton assured council and Barlow that she supports the fire fee, but wants it to be done right so it cannot be overturned in court.
 
In other business

·         Council renewed the six-month agreement with the West Virginia State Police, which provides law enforcement for the town.

·         A Beautification Committee was establihed to improve the appearance of Main Street

·         Former mayor Joe Smith was appointed as overseer of the “vacant lot” project next to the opera house. Plans include a parking area and green space. The lot will remain available for economic development.

·         The mayor dismissed the Building Committee as it has completed its work. This committee can be reactivated if needed.

·         Committees were established to oversee the various town interests
 
The next council meeting will be the second Monday in August at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
 
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@pocahontastimes.com