By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The City of Parsons Events Coordinator Tammy congratulated City Administrator and Treasurer Jason Myers for 20 years of service to the City. She followed with thanking Councilwoman Amy Wagner, Councilman Michael Matlick, and everyone else for their contribution to the Hometown Heroes banners that were placed throughout the area. “I am very honored to say that we have 95 banners that we have up in our little community,” Michael said with more on the way. The intention is to do the banners over Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day.
Wagner added that she would like to do something for the First Responders of the county as well honoring them for their service. She suggested doing it during the month of May since that is the month of their homecoming events.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to have our (Christmas) parade,” continued Michael. In an effort to provide something festive and fun for the community, a snowman contest has been put together, much like the scarecrow contest. The rules and regulations for anyone interested can be found on the City of Parsons Facebook page or by calling during office hours. Councilwoman Melissa Jones made a motion with regret to cancel the Christmas parade with a second from Recorder Bruce Kolsun and all in favor.
In addition, the City is working with PRO (Parsons Revitalization Organization) to host a Community Christmas Festival of Lights. Residents who are interested in participating are being asked to register by calling the City Office so their dwelling can be listed on a map. Those registered will then decorate their house in time for a guided tour on December 12 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Spectators will then gather at the City Parking Lot for small groups to line up behind a guide that will travel the route between all of the light displays.
If possible with COVID-19, popcorn, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies will be provided to spectators going through the tour of lights. Wagner suggested residents be neighborly and check with each other and assist where possible in order to get as many people involved as possible.
A plan is being developed to have Santa and Mrs. Clause ride through the City on a fire truck much like the Easter Bunny did. The goal is for this event to take place on December 19 beginning at 1 p.m.
Engineer for The Thrasher Group, Eleni Brick, was present at the meeting to provide a status update on the Parsons Sewer Extension Project and request another payment installment. The current estimated project cost has not changed, however due to the delay in obtaining needed materials, electrical issues, and additional work requested by the City, contracting group Glen Johnston requested a 60 day contract extension. Councilman Tim Auvil and Jones motioned to extend the contract until January 8, 2021 with all in favor.
Requested at this time is $150,388.20 for the contractor, $10,000 for Region VII Planning and Development Council, and $7,177.33 for the Thrasher Group for a total of $167,565.53. Auvil made a motion to pay the invoice with a second from Councilman Kenneth “KC” Morrison and all in favor.
Rick DeGroff with United Laboratories spoke briefly about a conversation he and Chief Water/Wastewater Operator John “Red” Lipscomb had regarding a food grade herbicide that could be used around the pond and at the Mill Race Park slew to manage vegetation growth. DeGroff stated that the City of Parsons has worked with his company for decades and appreciates their business. The particular mixture in question is a pre-mixed liquid with one gallon covering approximately 1,000 square feet and would need to be applied as needed. Materials were provided with more details for the council to consider when spring arrives.
Lipscomb gave a report to the council stating the raw water intake pump is in operation but due to its age it is problematic. He is seeking quotes to replace the unit which he estimates will cost around $30,000. The leak detectors are inoperable at 12 years of age, which Lipscomb stated they are only good for about 10 years. Estimates are being sought for these devices which a credit can be received from turning in the old system to go towards the new ones.
Discussion continued about another access point to Lift Station 3, but would need further discussion. Lipscomb has spoken to Grader Operator Mike Wamsley who has offered to grade all of the needed city streets for $25 per hour. This will be kept into consideration for the City.
A locating rod was on the desire list for Lipscomb and the crews that would assist in locating lines. The cost for these is between $600 to $700 and would decrease the time employees are using to find water lines. “Recently we got where we are applicable for reduced monitoring,” said Lipscomb due to how well the levels have been in their treatment systems.
Quotes were received to fix the vac truck including repairs to just the actuator for $367 or to fix everything needed on the truck is around $2,000. The tie-in for the Pulp Mill Bottom Pond to bring the inflow of water will require over $4,300 worth of pipe, not including the needed gravel. At the current rate of inflow, it would take 12, 24 hour days to fill the pond, which will burn up the pumps if done so it must be done over time. Lastly, Lipscomb announced that the Source Water Protection Plan he submitted was received by the Office of Environmental Health Services and approved.
The minutes from the last meeting were approved with a motion from Jones and Morrison with all in favor. Financial Administrator Danielle Sponaugle presented invoice list one in the amount of $63,346.14 which passed with a motion from Auvil and Morrison. Invoice list two in the amount of $427.78 was approved with a motion from Auvil and Kolsun with Councilman David Greenlief abstaining.
Myers offered a revenue control report for both the general fund and coal severance fund for review and acknowledgement. Myers provided a summary of assets relating to the Harman Fund balance history. On August 31, 2020 the balance was $931,834.09 and has decreased to $886,894.58 as of October 31, 2020. The amount that is listed on December 31 will be the final amount that will be used for the annual Harman Fund Draw Meeting. Jones and Morrison made a motion of acknowledgement of the document.
An updated project list for the Harman Fund was offered where Auvil made a motion to move half of the allotted $50,000 for the Wastewater System Improvements be re-allocated to the Pulp Mill Bottom Pond Restoration. Jones seconded the motion with all in favor. Richard Hovatter from Thrasher provided an opinion of costs needed for the wooden deck and fishing piers along with the concrete for the foundations are estimated at $19,450, which Auvil feels more concrete will be needed which will increase the cost. The City agrees that too much work and money has been put into the pond project to not continue moving forward. Auvil made a motion to approve moving forward per the estimate from Hovatter with Jones making a second and all in favor. The quote from CITGO Water for the pipe has been tabled for the time being.
Myers presented a quote for $30,000 for W.Va. Paving for the work on Spruce and First Street which passed. NC Sportz LLC submitted a bid for $3,896 for a basketball system which Auvil and Jones motioned in favor of with all in agreement. CI Thornburg sent a quote for the hot tap materials for the raw water line in the amount of $4,246.82 which passed unanimously. Myers also received a quote to complete the entry lighting at Mill Race Park for $4,050.54 which was approved by Auvil and Jones if funding allows.
Glotfelty has been contacted for state contract pricing on tires for much of the city fleet. The first quote was for 10 tires for Lipscomb’s truck and the dump truck for $1,879.08, $1,990.48 for the garbage truck tires, and $1,969.92 for the 2013 International dump truck. Jones made a motion to approve the purchases with Kolsun offering a second and all in favor.
Parsons City Police Chief J.E. Kopec gave his monthly activity report which consisted of two misdemeanor cases, two misdemeanor arrests, one arrest by misdemeanor citation, three speeding citations, one public appearance, and seven code enforcement public contacts.
Myers stated 200 meals were served to the Veterans the day of the appreciation spaghetti dinner and $460 was made. The city is matching that and writing a check for $920 to donate to the Veterans. “The meals were good, too, I was told to tell you,” said Matlick. The PRO building was looked at recently with much progress being made. PRO is also soliciting for contracts for a non-profit attorney to represent the group and they are considering adding a certified public accountant.
The first concept for the Pocket Park has been submitted though more will be received and put out for public consideration and input. A memorandum of understanding between the city and W.Va. Department of Education acknowledged on the Kid Connect program to offer secure, external access points for public internet service. Myers also noted the drains on Spruce Street need raised and the two trash cans that were ordered have been received and placed.
Attorney Pat Nichols was called to discuss the Parsons Industrial Park and who would maintain control and would be permitted to sell the lots. It was determined that the city is not allowed to sell property, but if the Parsons Economic Development Group is deeded the property, they then have control. Nichols suggests developing restrictions to be set to the property along with development parameters. The board would consist of 12 individuals appointed by the City Council.
After discussion about the process of how the development of the Industrial Park could take place, Wagner asked Nichols if the property was turned over and they sold parcels, who received the money since the land was initially purchased by the city. Nichols stated the Development Group would be the ones who received the sale price of those parcels. “So what was the point in buying this?” asked Wagner. “To locate businesses outside the flood zone, to attract new businesses,” said Auvil. Nichols explained that within the agreement the income from the property sales needs to go back into the property for projects such as road construction and maintenance, water and sewer lines, and other relevant properties.
Wagner also expressed reservations utilizing the property until that area is annexed into city limits. She also suggested the land could be utilized as another city cemetery. Mayor Dorothy Judy replied, “Oh dear God, people won’t want to use that for a cemetery.” Wagner asked could the city approach the government expressing interest in constructing a jail on the property. Nichols explained too that a lot of the grants have stipulations attached to them that will add additional criteria of what can and cannot be done with the property.
It was suggested to extend the forfeiture date for excess vacation carry over hours from December 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Due to COVID-19, several employees did not get to take their vacation time and they didn’t want the employees to lose them. Jones asked if this would be a onetime agreement which Myers confirmed it would be. The motions were made and approved by all.
An appreciation stipend was requested at an increased rate for city employees. Myers discovered all police department wages from March through the end of the year can be reimbursed, which is approximately $40,000. Myers suggested using those funds to increase the stipend to $500 for full time employees and $250 for part time. Jones made the motion to approve and Kolsun made a second, all were in favor.
Clint Athey, CPA for The Rodeheaver Group, was called to explain the water and sewer budgets for fiscal year 2021. The council had the reviews to follow along which indicated a shortage of over $26,000 in the sewer budget. “Certainly we need more funds,” said Athey upon explanation. A 20% increase is what was proposed to be within the Public Service Commission compliance, which is required to qualify for certain funds. The rates for water and sewage have not been adjusted since 2012, which Wagner asked why the city waited so long to make the needed adjustments to accommodate the constant inflation of expenses. The approximate increase associated with this potential raise is $5 a month on a minimum sewage bill. Fortunately, Athey feels the water is sufficient at this time and sewage is the biggest priority.
This concluded the agenda for the Parsons City Council who will meet again on Tuesday, December 1 at 6 p.m.