By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
There were several residents present at the recent Davis Town Council meeting with one of the main topics being the town cemetery burial guidelines. This was on the agenda at the last meeting, but with so many questions relating to the suggestions made by Hinkle-Fenner Funeral Director Jordan Fenner, it was tabled until he could attend on the matter.
Fenner began going through the recommendations and explaining the reasoning behind those suggestions. A liner or vault will be required when burying a loved one to prevent sinkage of the grounds. “If you don’t use some type of outer burial container, what ends up happening is it creates the city more work, the ground will eventually collapse on top of that casket,” Fenner said. “Most cemeteries require it,” he added, including several in the surrounding areas.
It was suggested that during cremation burials, which is becoming more popular with relatives of the deceased digging their own grave, that a town employee and a resident are both present to ensure the proper plots are being utilized. Increasing the opening and closing fees to $400 during the weekdays and $500 on weekends for traditional burials and $125 for weekday cremation burials and $175 for weekends also made the list. These funds would go back into maintaining the cemetery and assist in re-erecting falling headstones and cleaning/restoring others.
Between October 1 and April 1, Hinkle-Fenner Funeral Home will not begin a funeral service after 3 p.m. as well as pushing for no Sunday services. Fenner stated these are more preferences for him and his Funeral Home, not necessarily needed to be included with the bi-laws or cemetery guidelines.
Fenner continued to recommend a relative of the recently departed along with a member of the town be present when the headstones are set, also to ensure proper placement. The final suggestion was for the Town of Davis to form a cemetery committee, which he volunteered to serve on, and recommended Mayor Doug Martin, one council member, and two residents also serve. After hearing the recommendations from Fenner, Councilman John Felton made a motion to accept the guidelines as presented by Fenner with a second from Councilman Al Tomson.
Alicia Erjver with Friends of the Blackwater brought proofs of the signs that are now printed and ready to install at the parks. She is seeking volunteers willing to help set the posts and affix the signs. A grant has also been received to produce 10 to 12 signs for businesses on William Avenue that will list the history of the location with a goal to receive more funds for the entire avenue and walking tours. Tomson asked if anyone from the council was asked to review and approve the verbage prior to print, which was formerly agreed it would be done prior to print. Erjver stated she was unaware of that agreement, which Tomson requested moving forward, out of courtesy and business practice that should be done.
Davis resident Shaena Crossland was present to discover the town’s intentions of Trick or Treat, along with offering safety suggestions that could be taken. Martin stated that the CDC, Tucker County Health Department, and Office of Emergency Management all advise against door to door trick or treating due to COVID-19. Taking that into consideration, Councilwoman Cindy Robeson made a motion recommending residents not participate in these activities this year with a second from Tomson. However, it was stated that the town cannot stop residents from turning on their porch light and choosing to dress up and go through town. The council strongly encourages anyone who decides to do so to use extreme caution from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. The town is not encouraging these actions.
Accounts payable and a job list for the streets, alleys, and water works were provided in the council member’s packets for reviews. A vacation request was submitted and approved with a motion by Councilman Terry Helmick and a second by Tomson.
This meeting served as the first meeting for a proposed Post Office Parking Space Ordinance. Martin highlighted the ordinance which states, “There will be five, 10 minute parking spaces, including one handicapped space that will be designated for residents to pick up and drop off mail as well as for Post Office mail trucks to load and unload from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.” Once the ordinance is passed, it will be submitted to the state for line painting and proper signage. Tomson made the motion to approve the first reading with a second from Helmick and all in favor.
Recorder Andy Snyder presented other municipality personnel handbooks to aid in updating that of the town. Martin made the annual announcement that there will be no new meters or sewer hook ups performed within town limits after November 1 due to weather. A building permit was presented and passed with a motion from Helmick and Felton.
A resignation from Lisa Cousin was received as she wished to give up her seat on the Davis Town Council. Council had discussion on the proper way to fill this vacancy until the position is up for election. Tomson suggested returning to the election results and filling the vacancy with the person with the most votes behind Cousin. Tomson made a motion to do so, though it died for lack of a second. Discussion continued with allowing interested parties to submit a letter of interest at the Town Hall. The applicants will be reviewed and interviews will be conducted for the council to decide upon. The goal is to have the decision made public on the next council meeting. Felton and Helmick made these motions with Robeson and Snyder in favor, Tomson abstaining and Martin in opposition.
It was noted that the Davis Town Hall Staff will not be handling municipality elections. The responsibility then falls on the recorder, though if that individual returns to the ballot, an individual must be hired to take on the responsibility.
The council turned the discussion focus to the Virgin Hyperloop that has recently been announced and what that might mean for the town and county. Felton began with concerns over the sewer pond if the project follows through and brings an influx of people to the area. Snyder responded, “We’ve known for quite a few years that we have an issue with the sewer pond.” He said the town is in line with the DEP to resolve the issue, but agrees with Felton and is concerned those in charge aren’t aware of the challenges this will bring to Davis. “I’m for the growth and economic development, but we’ve got to crawl before we walk, we have major issues we need to resolve before we can give it our 100% blessing,” he added.
Tomson stated that this council and the next two will need to remain diligent on taking control of the situation. Changes have already happened through the purchase of Timberline Mountain and COVID-19, bringing a lot of issues to light, but Tomson stated, “So how we deal with this is going to be up to us and whether we succeed or we fail is going to be up to us because this project brings in good things and it brings in challenges.”
The benefits of the Hyperloop will not only bring in construction jobs for the facility itself, but for housing to accommodate the future employees. From engineering positions to maintenance crews, several employment opportunities accommodate this development. Tomson also said this project will bring high speed broadband to the area and the state officials are becoming increasingly aware of the needs and challenges Davis and Tucker County possesses. This will bring additional funding opportunities to address these issues.
Tomson continued with highlighting some concerns, including the sewer, housing both for new residents and workforce, traffic, schools, and maintaining the look and feel of Davis. He said there is a Davis Planning Committee that is working on a comprehensive plan that will help with that goal. Felton agreed with Tomson, saying he himself used to not want change, but there is no way to stop it so it needs to be controlled.
Mayor Martin stated he has met with Congressman Dave McKinley and shared all of his concerns that could result from the Hyperloop. Those concerns are being taken back to Governor Justice along with the other representatives in Charleston. Senator Joe Manchin is also aware of the project. Robeson said she hopes the issues that Davis would be facing with this project coming to the area were brought up and discussed prior to finalizing the plan to bring the facility to Tucker County.
A request letter was submitted to the council by the Heart of the Highland Trail Foundation for a FLAP Grant they are working towards. Tomson made the motion to provide the letter with a second from Robeson and all in favor. A letter was received from the Cousin Family that was provided in the council’s packets. The only comment made was from Martin, stating, “I think they sent it to the wrong people.” Martin also read a proclamation declaring November 22 through the 28 as Christian Heritage Week with Felton making a motion, Snyder a second and all in favor.
A motion was made to pay the bills as presented and the meeting was adjourned. The Davis Town Council will meet again on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m.