Routine business a welcome break for MTC

Ryder’s Contracting works to clear snow from the Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue intersection in Marlinton. Alderman’s Excavating, as well as the town crew, worked tirelessly to clear more than 100 truckloads of snow from the streets in Marlinton to get folks back in business. S. Stewart photo
Ryder’s Contracting works to clear snow from the Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue intersection in Marlinton. Alderman’s Excavating, as well as the town crew, worked tirelessly to clear more than 100 truckloads of snow from the streets in Marlinton to get folks back in business. S. Stewart photo

With the snow, sewer problems, and some of the water line issues under control, Marlinton Town Council had time to talk through some important, but less urgent issues at Monday night’s meeting.
Mayor Sam Felton gave an update on the program that was implemented in January by the town and Pocahontas County Senior Citizens, Inc.  This program was designed to assist all residents within the town limits who need transportation to and from stores, pharmacies and banks. A minimal number of residents have availed themselves to this service thus far, but the two entities have extended the service for another 30 days to allow citizens an opportunity to decide if they want this service to continue.
The most daunting task of the past month was snow removal following the January 22-23 snowstorm. Felton said storm preparation included writing snow removal assignments and instructions and stressing safety. Once the snow was on the ground, the town crew and contractors, Alderman’s Excavating and Ryder’s Contracting, were called in to open up the streets, alleyways and parking areas.
Storm clean-up cost to the town is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $20,000, which includes the town crew’s labor.
Felton said Code Enforcement Officer David Watkins dealt with complaints about neglected animals during the recent cold weather and snow. He commended Watkins for his efforts.
Improvements have been made at the sewer lagoon, improving the process and bringing that facility closer to compliance.  Although costs have increased, Felton said those costs were minimal when compared to fines for improper operation.
The town recently advertised for applicants to serve on its Housing Authority and Planning Commission.
Eight members are needed for the two boards, but only one resident has come forward, so far.

Marlinton resident Gail Hyer suggested council add specifics concerning those positions so people will better understand the work involved, and the skills required. That information will be published in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.
An area where work, skills and knowledge played an important role for the town and its current and former residents is that of Mountain View Cemetery where the late Frank Gravely’s interest and dedication to the upkeep, the remembrance of our veterans and the quick and precise locating of available burial plots will be sorely missed.
Felton reported that it now takes six or seven people to fill Gravely’s shoes.
Sheriff David Jonese and Deputy Troy McCoy met with council to answer questions with regard to police protection within the town limits. If it is determined that the Sheriff’s Department can enforce town ordinances, then council believes the town is adequately served by that department. Several incidences of quick responses were noted by council.
One issue facing the town is that of abandoned, unlicensed vehicles. It was recommended that the town approve a policy for dealing with vehicles abandoned on public property, which could include establishing its own holding area, a step that would reduce costs, and would make the town the recipient of fees for impoundment.
With regard to the Vacant Building Registration and Rental Registration, Felton urged council to begin to address properties which are converted from one family dwellings to apartment buildings.
“When a house is turned into an apartment building, we need to know how many bedrooms are there and how many water meters are attached to it,” Felton said, “not so much for today as for down the road.”
There are instances where just a framed-in wall has been put in place to divide a large room into two apartments. State Code requires that fire walls be constructed between apartments. Felton is concerned about safety issues in those instances.
In other matters
• The town received an insurance claim from resident Carrie Wilfong in the amount of $962 for a tire rim she said was damaged when she drove over a graveled area where the town had repaired a water line near the Seneca Mental Health office on Third Avenue.
• Recorder BJ Gudmundsson reported that the Town of Marlinton Facebook page is up and has been well received.
• Councilmember Sue Helton advised Felton to research deeds pertaining to headstone restrictions in the new section of Mountain View Cemetery. Presently only footstones are allowed in that area. With increased demand for headstones, and limited space available in the old section of the cemetery, clarification and, perhaps, adjustments need to be made, if possible.
Marlinton Town Council meets the first Monday of each month in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building.

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