By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Executive Director of Region VII Planning and Development Council Shane Whitehair was a guest speaker at the City of Parsons council meeting. Whitehair presented the council with a request for funding in the amount of $1,000 for the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Whitehair said, “Every five years we are tasked with developing and writing a multi-regional mitigation plan and we do that on behalf of all of our communities in our region. That being Tucker County, City of Parsons, and all of the other municipalities in this county as part of this plan.
What the plan does is identifies all the risks and hazards within our seven-county region. We establish goals and objectives because FEMA requires it. What it does is if you participate in this plan it provides the City of Parsons the opportunity to apply for and receive federal grants through the Hazard Mitigation Program. So, basically if we do not do this plan then you are tasked with the responsibility and the time and resources to do it individually verses being part of a regional plan that kind of helps with the expenses, resources and time rather than 31 of you trying to do it individually.”
Whitehair explained that Region VII had applied for funding to do the developing and writing of the plan with the assistance of a paid consultant. The consultant assists in drafting the plan and historically FEMA provided the planning funds to cover the cost and then the State of West Virginia matches the 25 percent non-federal share requirement. Whitehair said, “We submitted the application in December of 2021. We were notified in November of 2022 that we were approved, however between those dates the State of West Virginia has taken up a position that they are requiring local governments to match rather than the State of West Virginia not coming up with the 25 percent non-federal shares.”
The match requirement for the program is $28,000. The Regional Council is coming up with an estimated $12,000 and is asking each county commission for $1,500 and selected municipalities for $1,000 each. Whitehair asked the city council for the $1,000 to help with the match requirements. The motion was made and approved.
GS Millwork General Manager Eric Wamsley requested items to be placed on the agenda and was present to speak. Wamsley was requesting a discussion concerning the possible acquisition of the parking lot located next to the facility, located on Davis Street, in Parsons. Wamsley explained that with the growth of the company in recent years expansion was a necessity.
An overhead canopy across Davis Street was also discussed. Wamsley stated that there was a need for safe and dry loading or unloading of trucks at the facility. The canopy would allow the product produced by GS Millwork to be loaded on either side of a truck in a dry environment. The option to either fence in around the area requested or place closed street signs was also discussed.
Council woman Melissa Jones expressed concerns about the Butternut tree located within the area that was being requested. Wamsley insured that the tree and surrounding area with picnic tables would not be touched. He also stated that he was willing to pave the parking lot at GS Millwork’s expense if an agreement could be made. Snow plowing options were also discussed.
After discussion it was decided to table the request and send the information to the Streets Committee. Tim Auvil, acting Recorder for the Council and member of the Streets Committee, agreed to meet with Wamsley at the facility to see exactly what is involved with the proposed project.
City Administrator, Agnes “Aggie” Arnold, reported that the City of Parsons Mayor Dorothy Judy recognized Ira Miller for his birthday with a certificate of recognition, a City mug, T-shirt, and backpack. The recognition read, “In honor and recognition of his 106 Birthday on January 27, 2023, and for the countless individuals, families, and organizations within his community and internationally that he has touched over his lifetime. He continues to inspire his fellow senior citizens, community members, caregivers, and his friends at Cortland Acres Nursing Home, by setting a positive example of how to live a long and prosperous life.”
According to the City of Parsons Facebook page, “Miller enjoys playing bingo and visiting his friends. He is also working on a new hobby that he learned at the nursing home, Diamond Dot painting. His favorite song is a hymn called “The Love of God,” which was actually written the year he was born, 1917. He often says that if he doesn’t have something to do, he’ll get old.
“God’s been good to me my entire life,” Miller said. “The Lord is not done with me yet.”
Arnold also reported that city street employees were busy cleaning the excessive rocks off the sidewalks and repairing and building new barricades with paint and reflective tape to make them usable for upcoming events. She also mentioned that there was an error with the billing system. The system had entered wrong dates on bills mailed out to the residents but the issue has been resolved.
Arnold also stated that any City of Parsons resident wishing to receive a copy of the garbage collection schedule should call the office to request one to be mailed to them.
Auvil reported that he may have found a solution for the areas that are on project lists to be paved. Auvil stated he has found a way to rent the necessary paving equipment for an extended period of time for one basic price to complete projects around the city. Projects would include paving around the Pulp Mill Bottom Pond, parking lots like the one at Mill Race Park that needs another one inch overlay and the one at the Community Center. The money has been allocated and the projects can proceed when good weather resumes.
A new picnic area with a grill and trash bin has been installed at the Pulp Mill Bottom pond as well. Council would like to remind everyone that open fires are not permitted in the park area.
The last order of business on the agenda was the consideration of the removal of additional posts running along an unnamed alley in the Pulp Mill Bottom between the City’s property and Lowther’s property requested by Councilman James “Sam” Humphrey. Auvil asked if the matter could be referred to the Parks Committee since it was Park’s property. Jones said, “Jason (Myers) has informed me that it is not Park property. You all (Parks Committee) maintain it because about four years ago we had all Park property transferred to the City. So, it is City property, but you all have the right to maintain it. The Park Board cannot own anything.”
Humphrey said, “The last meeting we had it was my understanding when he gets his door painted the post come out of the ground. It was not two or three posts. It was not four posts. It was the posts would be taken out of the ground.” Auvil said, “It was the post that would allow him access. It did not say all of them, Sam.”
At which point Humphrey made a motion that all the post come out of the ground. Councilman Tim Turner seconded the motion. Auvil said, “I think since the Park Board paid to have it surveyed and installed it should be.” Auvil did not get to finish the statement. Councilwoman Kathy DiBacco asked who decided to put the post in the ground. Jones said, “The Park Board brought it to City Council at the time. And the reason why is because there were junk cars parked in the alley way and over into the parking area.” Acting Mayor Bruce Kolsun added, “The posts were put there to protect City property.”
The property can never be sold because it is a FEMA lot. DiBacco said, “I would say at least two or three more posts need to come out.” Humphrey added the neighbor could not get in his back yard with his trailer. Turner said, “We need to end this one way or another because how much time is this consuming.” Auvil said, “This dead horse has been beat to death time and time again.” DiBacco said, “Well the way to get rid of the dead horse is to get rid of the posts.” Humphrey added, “Take the posts out. Right there is your Chief of Police (Kevin Keplinger). If he catches the dude parked there write the boy a ticket.”
Auvil asked again if it could just be referred to the Park Board to which DiBacco said, “No, I want to vote.” Kolsun expressed his concern of overriding the committee system. Jones said to Auvil, “I can understand what you are saying and I can understand what they are saying. The Park Board came back and said they were not removing the posts. The Council overruled them and said they wanted them removed.”
Kolsun put the motion to vote. The motion passed with a vote of four for to two against. Keplinger asked that when the posts are removed that the holes be backfilled because the ones that were previously removed were not filled in completely. Arnold explained that the holes were in fact filled in except for a couple of inches on that top that required rocks.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building located at 341 Second Street, Parsons, West Virginia, 26287.