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New Martinsville Council Holds First Reading of Municipal Increase

March 13, 2019

New Martinsville City Council held the first reading of a municipal rate increase on Monday, March 4, during the regular monthly council meeting. Council moved on a motion to increase the fee, beginning July 1, 2019. The increase would raise the rate to $12.50 per month with another increase on July 1, 2020 - to $17.50 per month. It was noted by council that the last increase was in 2007 and there is a lot of work needed done within the city and no money to do it with. Council is hopeful the new fee increase will allow some of the infrastructure to receive necessary repairs. There will be a second reading on the increase March 14, and council will entertain public comments.

Sandy Hunt, executive director of the Wetzel County Convention & Visitors Bureau, reported the CVB has made it to the next phase of the Blueprint Community designation. The official announcement of which cities have been selected will be made on March 21 by the WVHUB.

It was noted the Blueprint Community members are: Sandy Hunt, President of Friends of Wetzel County (the fiscal agent for Blueprint Communities) and the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Terri Tyler, Executive Director of the Solid Waste Authority; Steve Zechman, owner of Ridge 2 River Realty and local farmer; Valerie Piko, Regional Economic Development Partner; Terry Heinzman, Director Town & Country Days and National Wild Turkey Federation; Deb Hamstead, board member Town & Country Days and the Wetzel County CVB; Adam Koontz, representing the four-member team from Union Bank; Steve Hunt, local businessman and Civil Service Commissioner; and Jeff Geiseke, First Ward Council Member representing the City of New Martinsville.

The first year of the Blueprint Community agenda includes not only training on community planning but also town hall type meetings to get residents' input on what they want to see addressed through this planning process.

In addition to the Blueprint Community application, Wetzel County has also been chosen for one of the stops on the Create Your State tour. The CYS program will be presenting on May 16, a venue to be announced. This is an interactive show and workshop - like a TED Talk mixed with a music concert - that inspires and empowers community development through the arts. It was reported ArtsLink will partner with the CVB as a sponsor for the Create Your State Program. To get a feel for the program, the public is invited to access a short promo video at

In other council matters, Ed Knowlton and John McCulley both from the Steelton-area of town appeared before council concerning water and sewer problems in their neighborhoods. Both gentlemen have been regulars at the council meetings for the past several months. On Monday, March 4, Knowlton questioned council over insurance claims he and other residents had filed on the advice of council. Knowlton asked why every claim that had been filed was denied.

Mayor Steve Bohrer explained to Knowlton that the claims were handled by the insurance company for the city, and they make the decisions based on what they find occurred. Knowlton said he received a call from Travelers Insurance, which reported it made the decision based on information received from the city. Knowlton said he and fellow residents had filed the claims with the city, like they were told to do, yet everyone was denied. Councilman Steve Pallisco told Knowlton he might need to talk to the insurance company again; Pallisco said most of the time it takes more than one time to settle any insurance claim.

Knowlton also asked whether the city had performed the testing on the rest of the sewer lines to see if residents have removed their storm water from the sewer. Superintendent Pat Durant said his department is still working on the project, and some residents are working to get in compliance. He said dye testing will be conducted in the Paducah area before testing on East Thistle. The city is still working on the project but has had problems in other areas as well. The city is doing the best it can to keep up, according to Durant.

McCulley, who lives on the corner of Paducah and West Drive, he said he wanted to bring to council's attention a problem with the alley the city paved several years ago. He said it is now destroyed. He said the area is deteriorating with all the truck traffic, traveling the alley and hauling dirt from the former Fox's night club area, to fill property where Bayer Credit Union plans to build a new corporate office.

McCulley stated, per the city map, the alley is not considered a paved street, but it was paved. He said in 2015 there were a lot of trucks using the alley while hauling fill. He said at the end of 2015 Bayer said it would repave the road, but that never happened and now it is getting continually worse. He asked council to talk with Bayer to see if the company would at least keep the area filled with gravel until the project is finished. He said there is a large amount of truck traffic, and the noise is also a problem.

The new offices are going to be built by Bayer Credit Union to replace one in Proctor, which will be taken by the new four-lane sometime in 2020. When completed, there will be an access road to and from Rt. 2.

In other matters, council reported the city has been busy cleaning out street basins and patching holes. Councilman Pallisco said when the weather improves, the street department will be cleaning up Harlan Drive and the Marina. He said with the recent cold spell, a lot of work has been put on hold. With warmer weather coming, he anticipates more cleanup and patching.

Councilman Joel Potts made a motion out of committee to purchase a new municipal utility truck, a Chevy Colorado. He said the money would come from the street department's budget. The motion passed unanimously. Potts also reported the city has received interest in an old Derrick digger truck, which was put out for bid. At that time no one bid on it; however, with the recent interest expressed, he would like to place it out for bid again with a minimum of $5,000. Council approve the motion unanimously.

Councilman Joe Smith reported he is working on getting bids for the security camera system around the city building. A variance request by YJ Eller was tabled at this time. Councilman Ryan Yost expressed his pleasure with the experience he received from witnessing a live fire burn during recent training for the fire department.

Council also approved a motion to accept a letter of retirement, effective immediately, from Street Commissioner Gary Willey.

Prior to the regular council meeting, several items were addressed at the city's department head meeting. It was reported the fire department had received 14 calls and held three training sessions. The department is also in need of a breathing compressor and will proceed to get a loan for the equipment. It was also noted emergency sirens will be installed in Brooklyn and Bruce parks and two other locations. AEP is reportedly putting the poles in while the county has agreed to pay for the installation.

It was reported the main sewer line is finished on East Thistle, and the next project will be the storm sewer. The water and sewer department just finished replacing 150 feet on Rosary Road and now has a serious problem with the sewer line in the alley behind Quinets Restaurant.

It was reported the owner of the old Sam Saads store is requesting a variance for a 20x30 garage. Because of city ordinance regulations, it was recommended the owner first get permission from the Community Bank before proceeding.

Police Chief Tim Cecil reported on a child neglect case, involving leaving a three-year-old in a car while gambling. He said methamphetamine and other drugs for left in reach of the child. He said his department has been working shorthanded, and the prevention resource officers have been filling in on the weekends.

The electric department on two short power outages. New lights are to be installed on South and North Main Street and behind Quinets. They will be LED that provide better quality lighting at 40 percent cost reduction. They are supposed to last for 10,000 hours.

It was also reported that work on the Lincoln Theater back wall has been placed out for bid.



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