By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Mayor Dorothy Judy welcomed everyone to the ZOOM Parsons City Council meeting on Tuesday as she began by requesting everyone to remember Councilwoman Amy Wagner and her family in their prayers as she recently lost her father. As she opened with a prayer, she also asked to remember Wagner’s son and other military personnel who are currently overseas and recently encountered a significant storm. County Administrator and Treasurer Jason Myers lead the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance before Reporter Bruce Kolsun called roll with Wagner, and Councilmen Samuel Blosser and Kenneth Morrison absent. A quorum was still present.
Guests were addressed first, beginning with Tim Turner. He wanted to verify that the Spring Cleanup project will be postponed and to question the Parsons City Election. Myers explained June 9 will be the municipal election that will coincide with the state and information will be in the mail offering the option to vote by absentee ballot through the mail. Turner also asked about the re-opening of Wellness 24, which is scheduled to happen either week four or five, and will operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. The facility will be staffed while open to ensure the threshold of occupants according to the square footage will be maintained and that proper sanitation is achieved. Only the front door will be open for entry except for those individuals needing handicap access. Physical therapy services have continued through the shut down and has actually expanded to three days a week, however with the re-opening for public use, those with appointments must wait in their vehicle until their appointed time to assist with the occupancy. “That’s the way we’re going to have to do things when we open back up,” stated Myers.
Myers also shared with Turner that the parts needed to replace the water line on Memorial Drive have been ordered with a start date expected between the end of May to early June. Discussion continued relating to the layout of the water lines on that street and how the lines are laid and will be addressed in the project.
The minutes from April 21 were approved with a motion by Councilwoman Melissa Jones with a second by Kolsun. Judy moved into unfinished business to discuss the lease agreement for the billboard owned by West Virginia Outdoors that sits on city property. Lawrence Silbernagel was present on the conference call to discuss this matter while Councilman David Greenlief took the floor to update the council about. He stated that, after speaking with Silbernagel, it became evident why the lease agreements are done on longer terms such as 10 years versus the desire of the board at the last meeting, which was on an annual or two year basis. Greenlief said that Silbernagel agreed to increase the monthly payment to $130, but the terms needed to be discussed. Myers explained, “If we do any contract over a two year term, state law requires that we have to have a public hearing, which is the same thing we’re doing with Zayo.” Greenlief explained to Silbernagel that this is the difference between working with an individual and a municipality and that this formality would be a requirement to move forward with the requested 10 year lease term. He continued to state that the goal was never to discontinue the billboard or the partnership, but with the future of the Industrial Park unsure at this point, the council wanted to ensure the ability to utilize the property in the best way. Silbernagel stated he was willing to put into the contract that, if necessary, the sign will be relocated per Department of Highway approval. Myers stated he could run the advertisement for the mandatory public hearings to follow protocol for approving these terms per the council’s decision. “We actually can approve it next meeting on the 19,” explained Myers. A draft agreement will be submitted with the council’s and West Virginia Outdoors stipulations that will be presented to Attorney Pat Nichols for approval. Greenlief made the motion to move forward with the agreement with a second by Jones and all in favor.
Financial Administrator Danielle Sponaugle presented the council with the first invoice in the amount of $66,373.10 for approval with a motion by Councilman Tim Auvil and a second by Jones. Invoice list two contained payment to Kidwell Auto Parts resulting in the need for Greenlief to abstain. This didn’t allow for enough voting members, but $1,209.17 can be approved by Judy since less than $1,500. Myers had a quote from Sonny’s Carpet in the amount of $11,680.20 to fully install vinyl flooring, containing a 15 year commercial warranty, at the Parsons Community Center which approved unanimously. “This will do the entire building,” confirmed Myers.
Chief of Parsons City Police J.E. Kopec gave a brief report on the latest happenings within city limits. Code Enforcement Officer Nick Gidley, who was set to attend the State Police Academy, has returned to patrol due to the orders set by Governor Justice. “In regards to that, there were some questions about it,” admitted Chief J.E. Kopec, however he explained there are limitations on what N.C. Gidley can do and what he has been used for mostly. Chief J.E. Kopec continued proudly reporting a decrease in reportable cases, contrary to a typical spring influx in domestic violence issues.
Chief J.E. Kopec is also volunteering on the work being done at the Pulp Mill Bottom pond, which he stated they are in the process of draining. This will allow the pond to be dredged and sediment removed after the fish are caught and relocated. “It’s looking really good with the progress continuing there,” he stated.
May 3 through May 9 was adopted as the 51 Annual Municipal Clerks Week signed by Mayor Judy where she also recognized Recorder Bruce Kolsun. “We sent Bruce a framed certificate,” Myers said as they all thanked him for his services.
Myers continued with his report stating that the Spruce Street Improvements Project is moving forward with the completion of the pipe preparation for the task, and the rock ditch line running from the top to bottom of First Street hill has been complete. The water will go into a drop inlet leading into the storm drain to properly disperse of the water. Jones requested a drain grate be placed which Myers stated was in the plans. “It’s already working,” Myers added, “they were fighting water as they were putting it in.”
A meeting was conducted to begin the work on the Parsons City Website where information is being collected to provide to the developer. “Phillips Kolsun is graciously helping us making the transition and he’s also volunteered to help take some photography for us,” Myers said. The goal is for aerial photos taken via drone to be included in the photographs on the new website.
Myers met with Rob Burns and representatives from WVU to discuss the Way Finding Signage Project and the next step. “We’ve got two different initiatives going on here, we’ve got the Cultural District, which has got the octagon shaped figure that you’ve all seen before, then we got the Mon Forest Town’s Initiative, whose got their logo,” he said. The grant stipulates both logos have to be used, so attempts are being made to bring the two together to complement one another to make for an appealing sign that will meet the stipulations to be funded by the grant. The way finding signs will be dispersed throughout town to guide individuals to points of interest within the area.
The Blueprint Community Group came together earlier in the day to discuss grant funds desired to be used where the former Jack the Kings building is located once it is demolished. Myers added that the demolition of that building is set to start relatively soon, however it was discovered the one wall is a “poured in place wall” composed of solid concrete. This will require a lot of manual labor and will take a little longer than expected.
Ideas are circulating on how to utilize the green space in that area and input from the community is welcomed and desired. The council will have the final say; however, the goal is to make the area all inclusive. Ideas thus far include hosting the Farmers Market twice a week, a mural being painted on the remaining wall, a drop screen to host a movie night, raised flower garden beds, and more. “Those are just some of the ideas,” said Myers.
The Main Street demolition project has been completed with seed a mulch. However, Myers stated, “There is some issues there, I spoke with the attorney today, on the adjacent property owner, we’re working on some issues there, we’re going to get those resolved this week,” he said. A portion of that sidewalk has remained closed until the council decides how to protect those travelling by foot from a large drop off.
Photos were displayed of the renovations and improvements that have recently been made at the Parsons Community Center. The floor may be installed beginning as early as next week followed by the trim.
The fencing at River City Park began this week and a large portion of poles and fencing has been removed. Just because the park is now exposed, it does not mean that the park is open; it is still closed due to the pandemic.
Chief J.E. Kopec had concerns brought to his attention by those pulling onto Billings Avenue out of Price Street where it is a blind intersection. A traffic mirror was requested and the approval of the Department of Highways was sought and achieved. With their approval, the city purchased and installed the mirror with a perfect angle to clearly see oncoming traffic. “I’ve heard nothing but good things,” Myers said from those who have already utilized this safety feature.
A permit was issued to install a holding tank at Mill Race Park to serve as a temporary accommodation until a sewage project can put in a permanent fixture. “They don’t usually permit holding tanks anymore, but we’re in a unique situation because we have our own sewage treatment plant and we have our own vacuum truck,” Myers noted.
Over $6,000 in donations have been received for the Senior Banner program, which the city will have made and installed on the posts. “59 seniors are graduating this year and all 59 will be represented on a banner and hung in town,” Myers said, with enough donations coming in to cover the total cost. As soon as the banners are received they will be hung immediately.
The bio spikes have been ordered for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which will be placed based on findings of sludge sampling. Myers also asked for the council members to assist reading through the ordinances to ensure clarity and corrections. The first corrections made with the company are free, but anything done afterwards will be at a charge. “This is very important for Parsons, we have to get it right,” Myers said.
The Wastewater Improvement Project update was offered next by Myers. He stated that the adapter for the vac-truck has been purchased that will aid in the removal of gravel from the lines to allow the camera’s to evaluate the condition of the lines.
An organizational meeting is being set up to develop a committee for the Parsons Industrial Park with the goal of a meeting in the weeks to come. The interested consultants will partake in a ZOOM interview to bring a recommendation to council to move forward.
The Parsons Sewer Extension Project is now ready to move forward where a delay was encountered with the federal website clearance for the contractor. A meeting is scheduled for the 12 of May to sign the contract to allow the contractor to move forward within 30 days of signing.
A notice of hearing will be put into the paper pertaining to the right of way and the lease agreement with the Zayo Group. The lease is for 30 years and has to be subjected to a public hearing due to the longevity of the terms.
Also on the agenda was the topic of the backhoe and the recommendation from the Fleet Management. This item was tabled due to the need of the committee to seek a new member and discuss options further.
The West Virginia Rural Water Association conference will be held in August at Snowshoe Mountain Result, tentatively, with a request to allow staff to attend. Kolsun made the motion to approve the attendance with a second by Jones.
Judy moved to the next line item which was a resignation letter from Councilman Samuel Blosser. “Now this is good and bad,” proclaimed Judy. “He’s not going to be on council but we want to use him somewhere else,” she stated.
Myers read the letter from Blosser asking to be resigned from council immediately, as of April 27, and also wishes to have his intent to run for office in June removed from the ballot. “It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Parsons for four years,” Blosser’s letter stated as he said the decision did not come easily. With regret, Auvil made the motion to accept the resignation with a second by Greenlief.
Blosser then appeared on the agenda as a recommendation by the Cemetery Committee to the Personnel Committee, to be hired as the Parsons City Cemetery Seasonal Groundskeeper. Kolsun made the motion to hire Blosser with Greenlief making a second and a unanimous agreement followed.
Correspondence included a letter from Sheila DeVilder on behalf of the Tucker County Commission relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic County Block Grants, which are open to counties and municipalities. The letter outlined how the funds could be utilized, for example PPE equipment purchases. Questions still remain on whether some items could qualify, such as lost funds from shutting down Wellness 24. “I’m glad to say we have not had to lay-off anybody during this pandemic,” Myers said after shifting around positions and responsibilities. The county will be contacting the city to discuss possible expenditures that may qualify.
Myers and Judy spoke with Rosemary Davis who received a quote to install a new door at the Parsons Depot. It was decided this was needed and will be done, and was quoted at less than $1,000. Highlights were discussed of information in the newsletter before reviewing the proposed graduation procedure. These details were covered in the article covering the Tucker County Board of Education meeting. “We’re going to have to do traffic control that day because they’re all going to be lined up,” Myers said. Additional assistance will be sought from the Fire Department or State Police.
The municipal league is hosting another informational town hall meeting with all municipalities across the state, and the call in information was provided for interested council. Myers and Judy will be on the call and encourages others to join if possible.
This concluded the meeting of the Parsons City Council which is set to meet again on Tuesday, May 19 at 6 p.m. via ZOOM virtual services.