By Cassady Rosenblum
The Parsons City Council meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. The Council voted unanimously to approve a series of invoices for July totaling $174,173.81. West Virginia Paving Inc. was the highest expenditure, coming to $57,944.00, although perhaps not quite high enough considering a citizen appeared before the Council to request help with a series of potholes on Jameson Avenue. “I think they even bent my rim,” he said. The Council members promised to look into the matter, and that they would send a crew to patch them.
Police Chief of Police, Kevin Keplinger, addressed the Council, noting that July has been an “unusually busy” month for the police department. Keplinger said his department has seen an uptick in interpersonal disputes, which he attributed to the fact that more people are getting together now that the pandemic has waned. He also noted a recent incident that highlighted how short-staffed rural counties often are when it comes to emergency services. According to Keplinger, one of his men was out responding to a domestic dispute in the Dry Fork area when there was a car accident in Canaan Valley. According to 911 dispatchers, the driver was behaving belligerently, and they requested police backup. However Keplinger said he was forced to tell them that, regrettably, he did not have any men to spare.
“Most people don’t realize there are only two or three officers at most in Tucker County at any given time,” Keplinger later explained. “I remember when I was a trooper, if something happened after midnight, the call would come and you’d be rolling out of bed, trying to get your mind together. Lots of people don’t realize that.”
Talk turned to the issue of trash. “One of our garbage trucks is down again…let’s paint it yellow–the color of a lemon,” Council member Timothy Auvil said, while others remarked the truck has made more trips to Elkins for repairs than it has the landfill. The Council decided to begin “speccing out a Mac,” and also determined some city dumpsters need a good cleaning, now that it is summer and many of them are stinking.
The Council heard updates on two new projects designed to enhance recreation in the Parsons area: the Corricks Ford Battlefield Project, and the Pulp Mill Bottom Pond Restoration Project. The Corricks Ford Battlefield project will connect trails around the baseball field to the Rails to Trails pathways, and also create new entry points for river access. The pond restoration project will dredge the Pulp Mill pond and stock it with fish, so that Parsons residents and visitors can use it for catch and release fishing. Auvil suggested the City may need to drill a well to provide the pond with fresh water in order to create the proper habitat for fish.
Finally, the City Council addressed their most pressing problem: the lack of a current leader. Jason Myers is leaving his role as the City Administrator / Treasurer to become the General Manager of the Clarksburg Water Board, a $90,000 dollar a year job Myers said will soon consume much of his time. While Myers resigned in the spring, he has continued to assist Parsons until his successor can be found. Mayor Dorothy Judy said that so far, about seven applicants have applied for the job, which starts at $45,000 a year, but may pay more based on experience. Mayor Judy said the ideal candidate is someone flexible and reliable, with the ability to write up a budget, and availability to answer the phone “24/7.” Keplinger added the ideal candidate should have a heart for a small town, noting that Parsons is unique in that, when you’re making a trip to Walmart, you call to see if your neighbors need you to pick up anything.