By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Parsons City Council met via a virtual platform to maintain social distancing and adhere to safety guidelines as a result of the Coronavirus. Parsons City Councilman and Parks and Recreation Board Member Tim Auvil brought forth matters about the PRC. The board voted to reopen Wellness 24 and the Parsons Community Center, though masks will be required and will be strictly enforced. Any non-compliance could result in forfeiture of membership or barring from the facilities.
A grant for the Corrick’s Ford Battlefield was received for $150,000, which Auvil stated a $30,000 match is required of the city. He confirmed that the request from the P & R for the Harman Fund allocation in March will include the $30,000 to go towards this project. Included in the purchases for the project will be machinery to maintain the grounds and conduit which will be running around the trail in preparation for future lighting of the trail. The council hopes to bring back the battle reenactment once the grounds are groomed appropriately.
Tygart Valley Conservation District will be installing the piers in the Pulp Mill Bottom pond, however, they recommend not utilizing the donated arch bridge and to rather use all pressure-treated lumber. The goal is to use the arch bridge elsewhere, potentially over the Mill Race Park slew. Auvil stated as TVCD prepares to pour the concrete piers; the pond will need to be drained again.
Three members of the P& R were up for renewal by the board, which was Tim Turner, Chris Davis, and Janice McDaniel. Jones made a motion to renew the members for another five-year term with Auvil offering a second and all in favor.
“The only other item we were considering that was on the agenda was what we were going to be asking for come March,” said Auvil. “Having the additional maintenance on the pond and Corrick’s Ford and the additional mowing, we’re going to have to hire somebody else to do some mowing,” he added, “So just be prepared for that.” The Community Center foundation concerns were briefly mentioned with concerns of the wooden foundation being destroyed by termites and the need for workspace at the garage for the workers.
Mayor Dorothy Judy addressed the guests which consisted of Tom Hodges and Ryan Frazier with Viasat, Inc. The company has expressed interest in leasing a small lot of property at the Public Works Facility.
Hodges explained that while they are separate from the Zayo Group, they do tend to follow their projects. They are requesting a 700 square foot area, a 25×28 space, near a Zayo fiber optic splice point. The area will be graveled and outdoor equipment will be set up along with a nine-foot pole with a three-foot radius satellite dish atop. The council agreed to continue negotiation with Viasat and the lease will go to a public hearing at the next meeting.
Eleni Brick from Thrasher Engineering was also present to tell the council that progress on the Kingsford Sewage Extension Project has remained stagnant due to awaiting the supplies needed to continue. A brief discussion commenced regarding upcoming sewage rate increases to put the city of Parsons within Public Service Commission standards, which also qualifies them for grant funding opportunities.
Financial Director Danielle Sponaugle presented the board with invoice list one in the amount of $81,888.11 and invoice list two for $325.02. Both were approved with Councilman David Greenlief abstaining on invoice two.
City Administrator Jason Myers submitted the monthly financial reports for September and October, which Councilman Tim Auvil made a motion to acknowledge with a second from Councilwoman Melissa Jones. Myers also provided the revenue and budget control reports for both the general and coal severance fund, which was also approved unanimously.
An updated summary of assets of the Harman Fund revealed that the markets have increased since the last report. The total as of November 30 that will be distributed in March is $957,672.83. Myers stated, “So we have rebounded,” said Myers. “So fingers crossed we continue trending upward,” he added.
A quote was submitted from Lawmen Supply Company for 3,000 rounds of ammunition for the City Police Department. The total invoice with shipping was $1,342.34 which was approved by a motion from Jones with a second from Councilman Michael Matlick.
Myers received word from John “Red” Lipscomb, Chief Water/Wastewater Operator that a new Groundfos Chemical Feeder Pump from C.I. Thornburg was quoted at $2,450. Auvil moved to purchase the pump immediately with a second from Greenlief and all in favor.
The Police Department November report was read by Myers which included two misdemeanor cases, two arrests, eight citations, one public appearance, 15 code enforcement contacts, $45 in drugs were seized, and resolutions are being sought for parking and trash complaints within city limits.
A copy of the visionary strategic plan that will soon be released was included in the council packets which were developed by the Parsons Revitalization Organization (PRO) and the Blueprint Community Group. “This has been a result of all the meetings we’ve had from all the stakeholders from business owners, the general public, to recreational stakeholders,” explained Myers.
The Festival of Lights event, hosted by PRO and the City of Parsons, was a success with over 300 people attending either in person or by voting online. “People were very impressed with the lights, and I must say, the whole town, St. George and Hendricks, everything looked wonderful,” stated Judy. She encourages people who haven’t seen the displays to take the time to do so. Santa Clause traveled through city limits on December 20 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. and the route was posted.
There has been no progress on the Industrial Park Project and the Police Policies and Procedures Manual was tabled as it has not been returned from the lawyer. The Pocket Park project received a $3,500 grant that PRO will add $1,000 to for a pergola to be constructed. Roberts Estate submitted a proposal for the project which totaled $4,500. Recorder Bruce Kolsun moved to accept the design and proposal with Jones offering a second and all in favor.
Auvil read the minutes from the Water and Wastewater Committee meeting which highlighted a public hearing that will take place at Region VII on January 19 at 6 p.m. to discuss the resubmission of a grant request for the Parsons Emergency Water Preparedness and Resiliency Project. Priorities were discussed of the Wastewater Collection and Treatment System upgrades where it was unanimously agreed that a new Vac Truck must be included within the project as the current one is 24 years old.
The committee unanimously agreed that rates must be adjusted to qualify for grants and bonds and to adhere to PSC regulations. This will require approximately a 21.3% rate increase to comply, as it has been eight years since the last rate increase was implemented. It was also agreed upon that service fee changes and adjustments need to be applied to include a $75 after hours call out fee if not determined to be the city’s responsibility, a non-compliance surcharge of $500 and actual costs incurred to resolve the issues on any customer found to have deposited any materials such as grease, oil, hazardous materials, or any component into the sewer system that may contaminate, impede, or cause it to be disabled. The standard security deposit and leak adjustments will change with any rate adjustment per PSC regulations. “And it needs to be noted for the record that the newspaper reported covering the November 11 meeting that the sewer department deficit with the approved budget was $26,000, but the correct figure is actually $40,000 deficit,” stated Auvil. The water department rates will be discussed at a later time as they are not as far out of PSC compliance and the tap and reconnection fees will be adjusted at that time.
The raw water intake pump station was discussed and the importance of having a backup pump and motor at the station. If the pump or motor fails, the city will lose water supply after two and a half days if not replaced and normal repair on these units can take three to eight weeks. The committee highly recommends the council allocate funding to purchase a new pump and motor to rebuild the #2 used unit to serve as a backup. Concerns with the electrical panel that operates the station and soft start were discussed as many of the components are obsolete and outdated which has an estimated cost of $25,000.
Lipscomb presented the committee with quotes for OMNI proportional flow valves and reel actuators with associated parts. Discussion amongst the group relating to leak detection systems, HACH maintenance contracts, and flooring improvements also commenced.
Auvil also read items that will be requested to include in the Benefit of Citizens of Parsons request for money from the Harman Fund. These items included $25,000 for the Wastewater Collection and Treatment System Improvements Project, $25,000 for a new pump and motor at the Raw Water Intake Station, $50,000 for the Parsons Emergency Water Preparedness and Resiliency Project, $20,000 towards the HACH maintenance contract at the Water Treatment Plant, and $5,000 to upgrade and improve lighting at the WTF Sed-basin Building for a total request of $115,000.
The final action before adjourning was for Judy to request the council approve the appointment of Kevin Keplinger as Parsons City Chief of Police, effective January 1, 2021. Kolsun moved to accept the recommendation with a second from Matlick and all in favor.
This concluded the business for the Parsons City Council which will reconvene on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at 6 p.m. at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building.