By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
With the exception of Councilman Seth Pitt, the Thomas City Council along with Mayor Matt Quattro gathered on January 14 to address the agenda for their first meeting of the year. Quattro opened the meeting with a prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance before getting down to business.
The previous meeting minutes were approved with one date correction followed by an introduction of guest Talia Schwelling, a Forest Service Contractor with the Mon Forest Partnership Initiative. She recently moved to the area and will be working on the collaboration between municipalities deemed as Gateway Communities to the Mon Forest, a meeting that she and Councilwoman Erika Smith returned from earlier that day.
Committee Reports began with Joe Dumire for the Cemetery Committee. In November, he wrote a letter to the Carl Delsignore Foundation requesting a donation for cemetery upkeep or the Endowment Fund. “To date, I have not received any response on that,” stated Dumire. “The City has received a donation from the foundation earlier in the year,” replied Quattro, informing Dumire that they do received donations from that foundation on a periodical basis to be used where the City feels most pertinent. Dumire continued, reporting the checking account balance as of December 31 was $3,118 with annual interest received, He stated the December balance for the Endowment Fund was $11,105, which included a $200 private donations. Other contributions have recently been made towards the general checking account, which was a $4,000 from Betty Jo Kite, former resident of Thomas, and $10,000 from Hope, Love, and Charity. “As a result of that, the Cemetery Committee is requesting $5,000 be placed in the Endowment Fund,” requested Dumire. He stated this would allow $1,000 be utilized for tree removal within the cemetery. Quattro replied, “We’ll get it done when spring comes.”
Neither The City Planning Committee nor the Community Center Committee have had recent meetings due to the holidays, therefore there were no updates at this time. The Mountaineer Days Committee is to be developed potentially in February to begin preparations for their annual event. The New Historic Thomas Committee is seeking interested participants to serve on this board so they can begin regular meetings.
Quattro announced the installation of 21 new decorations that were placed over the holidays, noting the ones on Front Street were placed on timing systems to come on and off at a desired time.
Unfortunately, there were some electrical issues in other areas where they were not illuminated, however the goal is to rectify that by this coming season. “I want to get in the minutes a special thanks to Brad Phillips,” Quattro said, along with thanks to the city employees, and Jim Nelson for their contribution to the decorating of the city. “Next year will be even better,” said Quattro.
Earlier that day, Smith attended a meeting regarding Mon Forest Towns. This is a gather between eight communities, which includes Thomas, Davis, and Parsons within Tucker County, that have been identified as Gateways to the Mon Forest. A memorandum of understanding was presented to the Mayor to agree to participate in this coalition which opens up opportunities for amenities and funding. It provides a relationship between the towns as well as the Forest Service to share ideas and work together to encourage and facilitate activities within these locations joining with this National Forest.
Smith said one topic addressed at the meeting was similar signage across the communities that have interchangeable logos and icons that can be selected to represent pertinent activities available to each geographical location. Examples include fishing, trains, hunting, kayaking, and many more as well as personalized options available.
This partnership can also lead to funds for projects such as a downtown beautification. Another benefit of being in this program is the interactive online map, which Smith explained a visitor could go online and find ideal fly fishing locations that are available throughout these communities where the Mon Forest is accessible. “I think that this is a really important, I think it has the opportunity to do some really awesome things, not only for our community but even our neighbors,” Smith concluded. Councilman Jody Flanagan made a motion for Mayor Quattro to sign the memorandum of understanding to participate in this program with Councilwoman Kimberly Trathen making a second. Smith and Councilman Junior Davis were both in agreement. Smith did request, as she is the primary representative for the City of Thomas with the Mon Forest Towns that an alternative representative be sought.
Moving into old business, Quattro noted that all funding requests have been submitted to FEMA for damages resulting from flooding issues. If approved, Quattro expects this could result in approximately $40,000 to go towards repairs made and needing made. A new sign was discussed at the last meeting that is also still in progress.
New business followed with an invitation to the city, from the Chamber of Commerce, to attend Tucker County Days February 5 in Charleston. He announced 2020 is an election year and Thomas will begin advertising upcoming availabilities within the city, which includes two four year and one two year council seats, the position of Recorder as well as Mayor. The only requirement is the individual must be a resident of Thomas and must file at the City Office.
Quattro also informed council that the biennial dam inspection report has been received noting some minor surface damages that will be addressed, though this does not come out of FEMA funds. The council then reviewed the check register and payments of bills, which Trathen made a motion to pay as presented with a second by Smith and all in agreement.
Council reports began with Davis mentioning an employee request that was expressed to them, however due to the matter of the subject it was postponed to discuss under executive session. Flanagan said the flag pole blew over in the high winds. A new pole with a light is on the way and will reset as soon as received.
Smith has been approached by a community member asking about railroad grade parking and sales tax utilization. Quattro stated this is a work in progress and the sewage must be addressed first in regards to the parking. Trathen began questioning how ordinances are looked up or amended due to a community member asking about the animal ordinance within city limits. This members particular question was regarding poultry, which the current ordinances prohibits possession of such. Quattro stated the proper procedure of researching and requesting at a council meeting the potential changing of ordinances in question.
Trathen also asked about the status of the building commission ordinance, with Quattro responding with, “That’s still with our lawyer,” though he hopes to have clarification in February. Recorder Terry Stone brought to the council’s attention she had recently filed a former complaint with the city and was questioning if they are being presented to the council and how they are being addressed. There is concern about the alley behind Spruce Street being impassable and restricting access to fire or rescue service vehicles. Quattro confirmed he is looking into this issue. Stone also expressed her concern with Sunrise Sanitation discontinuing their recycling services and the effects it may have on the trash collection.
Quattro didn’t have much to report on for the mayor’s report due to the holidays and being out of town. He is following up on the progress of projects within the city that have been ongoing. This completed the open session for the Thomas City Council. The next meeting is scheduled for February 11, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas City Hall.