Laura Dean Bennett
Mayor Sam Felton began the July 3 Marlinton Town Council meeting by reading a quote from the West Virginia Municpal League’s mission statement:
“Strong cities make a strong state. Therefore, the steps we take to strengthen our town is a part of the plan to strengthen our state. In doing so, we the people become the beneficiaries of both a vibrant city and state.”
This was followed by his Mayor’s Report, which included:
• an update on the sewer problem reported by Second Avenue resident Carol Beck. The problem has been corrected. A number of root balls were removed from within the line.
• there has been more enforcement of town ordinances since the June meeting.
• the flag has been replaced on the bridge at the Greenbrier River
• The Department of Highways has been contacted to replace stop signs on Third Avenue at 12th Street
• With regard to the slough area between the Greenbrier River Trail and Fourth Avenue: the Greenbrier Conservation Agency and Rivers Coalition has been approached and there is cause to believe that this might be a viable project. Dennis Burns at the Conservation office is pursuing possible funding from Fish and Wildlife, DEP and other sources.
• A report on the cleanup of the Fourth Avenue town garage area. Roof repairs are about 95 percent complete.
• Town water loss was down to 50 percent on the May/June billing. The work continues to bring this number down. The mayor will contact state representatives concerning the Third Avenue drainage project and Fourth Avenue paving.
As the council took up its agenda items, Council Member Sue Helton was appointed to serve as recorder in the absence of B. J. Gudmundsson.
First on the agenda was public input.
Council was asked by a member of the public whether the yellow line which is missing from the road at the water tank would be repainted any time soon. The issue was originally raised a year ago and is perceived as a traffic safety concern. The mayor replied that the council agrees it needs to be done as soon as possible.
It was noted that a stop sign at Third Avenue and Ninth Street is down.
The remaining public input was devoted to the problems of and proposed solutions for Marlinton’s water treatment facility – a topic of great interest to many of those in attendance.
Felton stated that since the Elk River spill, the state has added more layers of regulation covering municipal water sources.
“The next conference call with the water engineers will take place on July 10, and we will then know more about how to proceed,” he said.
Several members of the public asked if there would be meetings to apprise the public of exactly what would be required to bring the plant up to standards and to ascertain what the costs will be.”
Felton said council will have engineers come to a town hall-style meeting to address these issues.
“We will absolutely be holding town meetings about this and will definitely keep residents in the loop as we proceed with this project,” Felton said.
An item of old business pertained to the repair of a blocked sewer line in the alley at Anderson’s Apartments. In an attempt to fix the problem and ascertain whether the blockage was on town property or on private property, the town maintenance crew had inadvertently made the problem worse. A blockage was determined to be on the homeowner’s property. A mop head was discovered and removed from the line by the repair crew.
This incident brought to the forefront that no building downspouts are supposed to be discharging into the town sewer line. This has been illegal for about 20 years now, although some in attendance at the meeting said that they had not heard of it. The town council would like to remind residents of this regulation.
Discussion of unfinished business began with potential improvements to the roads at the Mountain View Cemetery. Long obtained an estimate from Brown’s Paving for costs associated with the improvements.
The discussion included the fact that this was not a bid for the work, just an estimate to give council members and the public some idea of the potential costs of the paving, grading and graveling needed to improve the roads at the cemetery.
Questions were asked as to where funding would be coming from for these improvements. Long responded that some would be coming from “the streets budget” and some would come from the cemetery. He said that he felt the areas most in need were sections A and D.
After a suggestion that section C would be fine if the town street crew put down a sufficient layer of crushed stone, Long made a motion to put out sections A, B and D for competitive paving bids.
The motion failed.
After further discussion, another motion was made to put the entire job, including all four sections – essentially paving all roads in the Mountain View Cemetery – out for bids. The motion passed.
The council then took up new business.
The first item was the mayor’s request that a special events committee be formed from members of the town council to handle planning for special events like the Fourth of July fireworks display, the Greenbrier River Race, Pioneer Days, RoadKill Cook-off, etc.
Council member Mark Strauss made a motion that a special activities committee be formed effective September 1, 2017 to help with plans for special events and to interface with all civic organizations involved with the planning of special events or festivals. The motion passed.
Second on the new business agenda was a decision of how to allocate remaining 2016/2017 dog tax funds. A letter from Chip Adkins, president of the Pocahontas County Humane Society, requesting funds to defray expenses of feline leukemia shots and animal transports to other rescue organizations, was read. The mayor reported that there was a total of $415.80. The council decided to split the remaining funds 50/50 between the Humane Society and the county animal shelter.
In other unfinished business, enforcement of all town ordinances was discussed. Counsel Bob Martin delivered to the council a 26 page revised building code ordinance, which incorporates existing building maintenance codes.
Martin stated that the revised ordinance excludes jail time as an enforcement measure, relying instead on fines. The ordinance will have to be published in The Pocahontas Times and will require three readings at three town council meetings before it may be enacted.
He said he is currently preparing three more ordinances – one to deal with abandoned or junk cars, one regarding dogs and one for dilapidated buildings.
Council meets in regular session the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building.