‘Stupid’ costs TOM time and money

Jaynell Graham
At Monday night’s Marlinton Town Council Meeting, Mayor Sam Felton gave a detailed report about progress that has been made and problems that have been dealt with in the past month. 

While improvements in some areas are obvious – streets and sidewalks are clean, construction of a new building on the Old Bank Building lot and the snowflake decorations on the newly painted lampposts – there have also been a lot of off the radar repairs to water and sewer lines, and a couple of acts of vandalism.

Felton reported that a propane tank and regulator had been stolen from the pump station on Back Mountain Road.

In addition, the mayor said he received a call about 4 p.m. November 28 from a resident on Ninth Avenue who said that there was a blockage in the sewer line.

“This complaint led me to remove a manhole cover at the end of Tenth Street, behind the water plant,” Felton said. “The manhole was full to the top with a deer head with three-fourths of the body attached. This had floated to the top of the manhole. As the town crew was unavailable, my son, Rusty [Felton] helped to remove the deer carcass. The findings were reported to the proper authorities [Department of Natural Resources], who came to make a report. I then contacted Jacob Meck who came and pumped ten loads out of the system before getting low enough to go into the manhole. A black plastic bag of deer parts had been dumped, and had been sucked into the outlet and completely sealed off the flow.”

 It was after midnight before the clean-up was completed, and it cost the town about $1,500.

 “It takes stupid to a whole new level,” Felton said in frustration. 

Getting back to the business of improving the town, new members are needed to serve on the Planning Commission, which will play an important role in moving the town forward. First on the planning agenda will be updating the town’s Comprehensive Plan  to make the town eligible for funds to assist with refurbishing or repurposing vacant buildings and tearing down dilapidated structures.

 Mark Strauss and BJ Gudmundsson had served on that commission, but are no longer eligible to serve as Strauss is now a councilmember and Gudmundsson is town recorder.

Town residents interested in serving on the Planning Commission should contact the mayor or a councilmember prior to the council’s January meeting. 

Felton has been looking at possible ways of providing transportation to and from local stores for residents who are now having to walk there. He has talked with John Simmons, director of the county’s senior centers, and it was noted that the Family Resource Network is also working on this.

The possibility of taxi service within the county was also discussed.

Councilmember Norris Long said that a taxi service had come to the county a couple of years ago, but due to licensing restrictions, it was not allowed to continue. 

It seems that only two licenses can be issued by the Public Service Commission for service in this area, and, as of now, one of those licenses is on record in the name of Malcomb, while the other may be in the name of Sullivan. Whatever the names, the businesses are defunct.

Councilmember Sue Helton was commended for her efforts with regard to improvements on Main Street. The snowflake decorations have met with everyone’s approval, and council agreed to leave them up through the winter months to coincide with ski season.

Helton said her son, Curtis, had helped her with the project.

“We counted lamp posts until we weren’t speaking,” she laughed.

Local electrician Mickey Callison installed sensors on each of the lampposts so the lights automatically turn off and on.
Spring will bring a new project to light as recently purchased planters will be installed on the corners of Main Street, with double-hanging flower baskets replacing the snowflakes on the lampposts, Helton said.

Chief Sewer Operator and Water Plant Manager Jim Mitchem updated council on his work in righting several wrongs with regard to the lagoon. He and the mayor met with the DEP to go over plans and recommendations for getting the lagoon in total compliance.

“I don’t know where this man [Mitchem] came from, and I don’t know where he is going, but it is a miracle that we have him here,” former councilmember Louise Barnisky said.

Mitchem said the DEP as well as “a lot of people” are willing to help the town by loaning samplers and other equipment.
Up to this point, the town has had to take water meters to Elkins to have them tested. Once certification is received, that testing will be done by Mitchem.

In other reports and business

• Municipal Judge Glen Galloway has completed his certification

• Janice Hatfield and family will place a bench at McClintic Library in memory of Ina Montgomery

• Council will draft a resolution voicing its opposition to the proposal to move Marlinton Elementary School

• Council will study and address the town’s need for law enforcement coverage before renewing the town’s contract with the West Virginia State Police

Marlinton Town Council meets the first Monday of each month in Council Chambers in the Marlinton Municipal Building. 

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