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New Martinsville City Council Denies Northgate Paving

October 10, 2018
BY ED PARSONS - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

The regular city council meeting of New Martinsville was held on Monday, Oct. 1 in the city's regular council chambers. Mayor Steve Bohrer officially called the meeting to order at 7:28 p.m. Council then unanimously approved the minutes of the September regular meeting. Council also approved the regular city invoices, as approved by the department heads. The budget reports are available upon request.

Under guests and special agenda items, Sandy Hunt was the first guest speaker. Speaking on behalf of the Wetzel County Museum, Hunt made a request of council for its permission to use the area south of the community college for the yearly Chili Fest. She stated the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau would be ahead of the chili festival this year, and many of the activities planned will be held in that area. She said vendors and events such as Black Diamond wrestling, a monster truck inflatable, music by M80's, and a rock climbing inflatable are scheduled.

Council had no objections to the use of the property but did have concerns about the local businesses, which normally set up their chili stands further north on Main Street. Hunt said most of the activity, including chili vendors, will be held in the 100 block of Main Street. However, she stated businesses are welcome to set up anywhere they wish, but most of the event will be on the south end.

Hunt said the annual car show, normally held as a part of the Chili Fest, will not be held this year due to a misunderstanding. The car show is usually held in the 200 and 300 blocks.

Hunt was given unanimous approval to proceed with the event.

The next guest speaker was Iva Lou Martie, who told council she wanted to thank them for the recent work by the city and people they had hired from Pittsburgh to investigate the water and sewage backup in residents' homes. She said she is happy to see the city moving forward to find and correct problems. However, she said she has had great expense beyond what her insurance company paid. She said her basement is still a mess, and she is paying to have it cleaned and repaired. She also stated she has a large sinkhole in her yard and has had to fill it with materials to keep the dog from falling into it. She said she appreciates the effort the city is putting into the project.

Ed Knowlton also spoke about the water and sewer problems in his neighborhood, around East Thistle and Briar Court. He thanked the city and council for their work in getting workers to use cameras, in the lines, to further investigate the problems. Knowlton said the cameramen said they have found several problems. Knowlton further noted the pipes are clay tile pipes, and they have lots of breaks. Gravel can be seen coming into the lines, through the breaks. Knowlton again expressed his appreciation for the work so far.

John McCulley said he appreciated the work so far but feels there is still a lot to be done. He said he wanted to thank council for having the city fix a part of the problem, next door to his home. He believes it was just one in a series of problems needing fixed and is hopeful the work on correcting the entire problem will continue.

Councilwoman Iris Isaacs made a motion to approve a one-time payroll adjustment increase from $150 to $250 for the week of Nov.16 for all full-time employees. She also made a request to approve a payroll adjustment for three secretaries in billing and a receptionist, which will come from the electric and water board - which pays their salaries and doesn't affect the general revenue. The one-time adjustment also comes from each department. Both requests were approved unanimously. Her third request in the form of a motion was to approve Ina Robinson to be on the park commission. She noted a long-time member, David Haudenschult, has resigned, and Robinson would replace him. Council unanimously approved the request.

Councilman Joel Potts made a request in the form of a motion to place a 1981 chipper and a 1995 digger up for bid or sale, with the digger having a reserve bid of $5,000 minimum. Potts noted both pieces are surplus equipment. His motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

Councilman Steve Pallisco, chairman of the street department, storm sewers-surface waters, sidewalks and signs, and handicapped access-ADA Compliance, made a request to approve a Northgate paving project. The request was made in the form of a motion and was seconded. Discussion was then held on the subject, at which time Pallisco notified citizens of Northgate that circumstances, since the last meeting, have come to the attention of council that he feels will not make it possible to take on the paving project. He said the street is private property, and council has been advised there would be a huge liability to the city if an accident would occur or someone were to get injured.

He said other problems beyond the city's control included the lack of a local asphalt plant. He also stated it could be considered misappropriate use of city funds by performing work on private property. It was explained that when the original agreement between the city and Northgate was agreed to verbally, it was estimated the cost to the city for labor would be much less than what is now believed to be over $15,000. He said he wants to help the people of Northgate, but he has now decided against the paving project, based on the new information this council has received and the advice of the city's attorney.

Several residents of Northgate Drive asked to speak on the subject. Charles Riley, a representative of the Northgate Authority, came forward and informed council and the mayor about the meeting Northgate had previously had with the city and the street commissioner. He said at that time they were told it would be done, and there were no problems. They were told the city had the manpower and equipment to get the job done. The meeting was held last fall, and Riley said Northgate residents were told they would need to come up with $35,000 for the materials, and the city would take care of the rest.

After Northgate residents failed to come up with the money last fall, they came up with the funds in April of this year. They gave the funds to the city, which proceeded to cash the check. According to council, most of them were unaware of the verbal agreement, and they believed the street commissioner was unaware at the time that he needed council's approval. Council said they know work on private property has happened in the past, but they were not on council then and want to do the right thing.

The main problem seemed to be the chance of liability and lack of local materials, but residents of Northgate contended those issues have been resolved. They said they were notified in mid-September, by the mayor, of issues affecting the start and completion of the project - mainly the problem of working on private property. Northgate residents continued to complain about the condition of the road in question and even told council they would give the road to the city. They said the asphalt plant in Moundsville agreed to sell the product to the city at the same price as the old New Martinsville plant would have; they also said Litman Brothers were willing to haul the material from Moundsville.

Residents of Northgate voiced their concern over the lack of the city not holding up its end of the bargain. They said they were trying to improve things in the city. They anticipated an influx of people looking to rent or buy when a possible cracker plant starts operation, and they would like to help improve the image of the city. Resident Ken Davis was disappointed in the council and expressed it to them.

Council took a vote on the motion with Iris Isaacs voting for the motion and the remainder of council voting against the motion. Council was then asked if this was a dead issue or would they re-visit it. Mayor Bohrer suggested the Northgate Authority schedule a time to meet with council to try and find a solution to the problem. Council agreed to get with the Authority to try and reach a solution.

Councilman Jeff Gieseke made a motion from committee to hire Missy Hall from a part-time to a full-time dispatcher. The motion was unanimously approved. Councilman Joe Smith said his department is trying to get bids and costs for repairs to certain sidewalks. Councilman Ryan Yost stated the fire department is using grant money to purchase new equipment.

Mayor Bohrer spoke about the need for residents in all parts of the community to start watching for suspicious people and activity happening in the city, and to notify each other and make phone calls to the authorities. He said when a person sees something unusual, phone it in. He noted the calls would be confidential. Bohrer said the county has a great sheriff's department and the same for the city police. Bohrer said it's time to help the police. He said, "We have a great prosecuting attorney, the man is solid. We have to stop the drugs right now." He spoke about a couple recent drug busts and urged those in attendance to help with the problem.

Councilman Potts said he recently was asked by a neighbor to come sit on the neighbor's porch this past Saturday evening and to come at dark. Potts said he sat with his neighbor until nearly 1 a.m. in the morning. He said the man had just moved into the neighborhood in the past 13 months, and the difference since then is unbelievable. Potts said, "This is happening in a neighborhood that's not considered to be one of the lower ones. It's always been one of the better ones right in the heart of town," he said. He said it's terrible, and he would ask those that are able to watch, to go and patrol at night just to see if anything is different than normal. He said some of the activities happening would surprise folks, noting there is a lot of drug dealing. Potts added, "We all can make a difference just like the mayor said. Keep your eyes open and report suspicious activity."

The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.



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