By Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Interim City Administrator, Agnes Arnold, presented to the council a request of sponsorship from the Highland Trails Foundation on behalf of the Blackwater Canyon Half Marathon for the upcoming race on September 10. There are four levels of sponsorship ranging from $250 for Supporting Sponsor to $1500 for Title Sponsor. The council elected to do as they did last year with the $250 Supporting Sponsor level that includes one complimentary race entry, the city’s name or logo on the participants running swag item, and the sponsor logo and level listed on the race website. This year the running swag will be shirts.
Race Director Sarah Forbes wrote in her request, “Proceeds from this year’s events will benefit the Highlands Trail Foundation and support our ongoing work to develop recreational trail opportunities in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. The Blackwater Canyon Half Marathon will help fund Allegheny Highlands Trail maintenance and development and will also link our exceptional trail communities together while promoting health and physical fitness. We will continue to promote and support local businesses as we implement the race.”
Council member David Greenlief presented the council an estimate to replace the screws on the maintenance building’s metal roof. A previous estimate was presented for $15,000 that included just replacing the screws and no warranty from future leaks. Greenlief obtained another quote from Meyer Roofing out of Elkins for $7,500 that includes replacing all the screws, caulking, labor and a one-year warranty against future leaks.
Council member Tim Turner asked the council if they received three quotes on the presented job. Acting Treasurer for the City of Parsons, Jason Myers, answered his question by saying, “That is totally up to you but anything under $25,000 you do not have to get three quotes on, but you can if you want to.” Mayor Dorothy Judy said, “You can not find people to do it, that is the hard part.”
Recorder Bruce Kolsun introduced a motion to accept the estimate to repair the maintenance garage roof and not to exceed $8,000 to cover any taxes, etc. Before voting council member James “Sam” Humphrey asked if this was something the city maintenance employees could complete themselves and receive a little over-time. Humphry said, “I was just wondering if we had an extra $8,000 to throw away would our own guys be interested.” Council member, Melissa Jones, stated that it would be cheaper to use the roofing company plus they would get the one-year warranty. Mayor Judy said, “We have our guys do a lot of things.”
Council member Tim Auvil said, “We allocated this as a line item with the Harmon Fund for $15,000 so we can use the other $7,500 for something else.” The motion was seconded by Jones. Motion carried and approved by unanimous vote.
Parsons Police Chief, Kevin Keplinger, thanked everyone for showing up for the End of Watch Ride of Remembrance for Adam Arbogast. Keplinger said, “I thank everyone who participated on Friday and who was here. It was very moving. It was greatly appreciated.”
Keplinger reported that radar speed signs had been posted on Billings Street and Walnut Street from July 13 through July 31 and during that period of time there were 7,299 vehicles that passed through the sign on Billings Street with an average speed of 26.1-mph. Keplinger said, “That kind of surprised me. I did not expect 7,299 vehicles. That was just normal traffic with no events going on.” Keplinger did state that the data showed some issues in the evening so the department will be targeting that area more.
The sign on Walnut Street had 10,179 vehicles pass through with an average speed of 15-mph, but out those 10,179 vehicles there were only 31 violators. Data for violators is collected for anyone driving over the 25-mph speed.
Arnold presented the council with a memorandum of understanding between Tygart Valley United Way and the City of Parsons. The memorandum set the terms and understandings to install and maintain a Born Learning Trail.
The Born Learning Trail is a series of 10 interactive signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. The signs are accompanied by painted sidewalk art. It helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or visiting a local playground.
The proposed location for the Born Learning Trail is the Allegheny Highlands Trail that connects the Train Depot to the Railway Bridge in Parsons. The responsibility of purchasing all supplies needed to install and maintain the trail as well as the upkeep needed at the beginning of each summer relies solely on Tygart Valley United Way. The City of Parsons will be responsible for providing access to the trail location, notifying of any damage or issues to the trail, and promoting the trail when applicable.
The trail will be installed on September 10 and after the motion for the memorandum was moved the council approved the motion with all voting in favor except for Turner who voted nah.
Arnold also presented to the council a request from Holly Meadows Golf Course for support in the amount $100 for the annual Neil Gutshall Memorial Golf Tournament during Labor Day weekend. The event is sponsored by Tucker County Parks and Recreation along with the support from area businesses. Proceeds solely support the maintenance of Holly Meadows Golf Course. The “two-man scramble” format includes two days of fun competition including food and refreshments.
The council voted in approval of the $100 donation to be made to the Holly Meadows Golf Course for the event.
Under unfinished business on the agenda Turner requested an item be added to consider the posting of the City Administrator/Treasurer position. Kolsun said, “This should be referred to the personnel committee.” The personnel committee consists of Mayor Judy, Kolsun, and Greenlief. Turner pointed out that the consideration was referred to the Personnel Committee at last council meeting because it was stated that the committee would meet before the next council meeting.
Mayor Judy said, “We met but not for this reason. Jason was kind of waiting for August.” to which Myers replied, “No, not for this.” Kolsun entertained a motion to have the item referred to the personnel committee with Greenlief seconding it but during the voting the nah votes were overlooked, and Turner had to stop the mayor from proceeding to the next item on the agenda.
The council members that voted nah were Kathy DiBacco, Jones, Humphrey, and Turner. The motion did not carry with a four to three vote against. Humphrey said, “I opposed because we need to get this fixed.” Kolsun said, “That is why we refer it to the personnel committee so they can figure it out.” Jones said, “But that is what I do not understand, we already made the motion last time,” to which Kolsun said, “It was not official. I thought it was too, but it is on the agenda again.” Humphrey asked, “So with it being official this time does that mean you will come back with something next meeting.” To which the mayor replied, “We will not have someone to hire but yes, we can do that.”
Jones said, “But I thought we put it on the thing for you all to come back with your description of how you wanted it handled and if you wanted one jobs or two jobs.” Mayor Judy answered by saying, “He has been working on job descriptions.” And Kolsun stated yet again, “That is why we refer it to the committee.” DiBacco asked, “Who is working on the job description?” Mayor Judy answered that the committee was and Kolsun was heading that up.
Humphrey asked if the position was one or two positions. Kolsun answered stating the position was one right now, but they were working towards breaking it into two positions. Turner proposed a vote to spilt the position into two separate positions. Kolsun interjected for the third time saying, “That is why the personnel committee handles that.”
Jones suggested to Turner to make his motion saying, “How about making your motion that we send it to their committee to bring back to us at next meeting the two different descriptions that we are setting forth to them for two different jobs.” Kolsun said, “That has been the plan initially.” To which Jones responded with, “Nothing has been yet.” Kolsun responded by saying, “To say nothing has been done is asinine. It is not complete. We have already done this. This is why I do not understand.”
Turner then entered his motion for the personnel committee to come back at next meeting with duties and responsibilities for City Administrator and a separate Treasurer. Jones seconded the motion. The motion carried with an all-in favor vote.
Under the new business section of the agenda a consideration was presented by Arnold for a mid-year employee pay adjustment and/or stipend for all city employees. Arnold said, “After crunching the numbers Jason and I looked at, I would like to propose a four percent and a $500 inflation stipend to our employees effective August 13. To begin with the pay period of August 13.”
Jones asked for clarification of whom would receive the $500 and Arnold explained that was it was everybody including full and part time employees as well as seasonal.
The council approved a four percent raise along with a $500 stipend for all employees of the City of Parsons. The pay raise will be lieu of the 2 percent raise that was scheduled for January of 2023 and will be effective starting with the August 13 pay period. The next two percent raise will not be until January of 2024 but for this year the employees with have a total of a six percent pay raise.
DiBacco asked, “What happened to the original $1,000 stipend that was proposed before?” to which Myers responded with, “I ran those numbers, and I could not make them fit across the board.” The $500 will be clear money on the employee’s checks.
The last order of business for the council was the regretful acceptance of the resignation from Donna Helmick as Municipal Judge for the City of Parsons. In her resignation letter to the city Helmick said, “It has been my honor to serve as Judge for the past few years. With the passing of my father in December, I have taken on the responsibility of being the primary caregiver for my mother. My last day at the City of Parsons will be August 15, 2022.”
All council members voted yes to accept Helmick’s resignation except for one nah from Humphrey.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building. If you would like an item placed on the agenda, feel free to contact the Parsons Business Office at 304- 478-2311.