By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
One of the first agenda items at the City Council meeting was to officially welcome Melissa D. Jones as the newly appointed council member to carry out the remainder of Steven Sponaugle’s term of Ward One. After The Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer, Mayor Dorothy Judy administered the Oath of Office as she agreed to support the mission of the City of Parsons.
Recorder and Councilman Bruce Kolsun took role with everyone present with the exception of Councilman Kenneth Morrison. First addressing audience and guests, Wendell Hofer was present to express interest in managing the Pulp Mill Bottoms Pond. This would include, “Habitat implementation, also stocking and monitoring the pond,” that Hofer believes could attract people to the area, be utilized for education, and potentially host fishing derbies. He has a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources with several other related areas of education and experience making him an ideal candidate for the position. Hofer presented a compensation request to the council which would bring him on as a city employee for a minimum of five years without benefits, which he explained the requirements it would take to properly manage the pond. Councilman Tim Auvil admired the qualifications Hofer brought to the City and stated, “That pond over there is an untapped resource.” This request will be turned over to the Personnel Committee which will make a decision and be in touch with Hofer.
Paula Stahl was also present to verify everything is in order to proceed with their We Are Hear Pow Wow event set for this fall. The Park Board has approved their necessary steps and everything is set to move forward in their planning.
Auvil discovered an error in the previous meeting’s minutes from May 7 which is just a typographical error and will be addressed.
Under Financial Items, there was an invoice for approval in the amount of $57,966.63. City Administrator and Treasurer Jason Myers provided a report from Sunrise Sanitation informing the steel prices have gone up twice in 2019. Sunrise has a total of six dumpsters available for sale to the city, which the council agreed to purchase two four yard rear load dumpsters for $945 each, and two, two yard rear loads for $635 each for a total of $3,160. There are concerns over the lack of lighting at the city shop and the safety issues it presents. The funds will have to come out of the rainy day account to approve a quote from State Electric Supply Company in total of $2,320 plus an additional $1,000 for the electrician.
Myers also mentioned the previous tenants of the city owned rental have relocated which provided an opportunity to repaint the walls, trim, and doors as well as replacing the vent fans and toilets, a vanity, and window screens. It was discovered, against lease agreement terms, the former tenants had large animals living in the rental, so they did not get their security deposit back and professionals were hired to clean the carpets. Additionally, two new ceiling fans were installed as well as new flooring in the kitchen. These projects exhausted all the funds applicable to the rental since the income in generates is dedicated back to the rental itself. Myers is also requesting another $2,000 from the rainy day to replace the stove that is going bad and a few other odds and ends. This was approved unanimously.
Auvil continued with the presentation of the water and wastewater committee proposed budget explaining some changes that had to take effect due to unexpected bills. Some of the funds that had already been allocated to the Spruce Street Storm Drainage project had to be used in other areas, and these budget revisions must be approved by the city, which passed unanimously.
This moved the meeting into the employee and committee report items for the evening, beginning with Auvil regarding the wastewater treatment upgrade project. “Basically guys we’ve been working pretty hard on water,” he informed the council, “but we have not done a lot on the sewer.” The goal is to look into bonds and grants upwards of $1,000,000. The project was advertised and seven entities had responded. The committee is looking for the top three to interview with the goal to award the project to one of the three. The entire town cannot be done at the same time without a significant rate increase so John “Red” Lipscomb will be prioritizing the lines to determine which areas will be addressed first. A rate increase is almost inevitable; however it is the council’s intention to do them in as small of increments as possible to prevent significant bill increases.
Another project discussed was the tie in to Hamrick’s emergency water system as a backup source. A small cities block grant (100% grant) is being attempted, however with low priority the city has been denied twice for the over half a million dollar project. If unsuccessful again, other grant options may be looked into, however they will not be 100% funded. “I don’t want to do those great big six figure numbers on the Harman draw anymore if any way possible,” allowed Auvil.
The third item on Auvil’s agenda was another water project that would include the Hamrick connection. This would entail taking a six inch line to Holly Meadows, a project that would have to be bid out, but it would have to go in before the highway comes through. Discussion commenced naming other areas of concern on how to go about these projects with timing and funding, which will be on future agenda’s as well.
Auvil finished his report stating again his support of Wendell Hofer and that the Wellness 24 currently has 275 active members, which is great for this time of the year. As soon as the Splash Park is in service, the concrete pads will be poured at Mill Race in preparation for the light poles. The security cameras have been installed; however a bid may need to be put out for the WiFi to run the system, which communication is in process with Charleston on the proper routes. The island for the new entrance has been postponed until next year due to funding but the guardrails were installed on Monday.
Lipscomb brought up the concern of acid wear on the equipment and housing at the Splash Park. Ideas were discussed on ways to remedy these issues and how to preserve the equipment and what needs replaced.
Chief T.D. Roberts gave a brief update on some unexpected issues with the city trash ordinance resulting in individuals living outside of West Virginia and those who are avoiding the police at all cost. The City Police have been in contact with Attorney Pat Nichols and Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora on how to proceed with issuing these citations. “We had the highest participation rate this year for clean up,” added Myers. However, Lipscomb added that in the future, stipulations need to be set for the cleanup events.
The dilapidated building across from Stevens Realty was also mentioned as just recently the upper porch has collapsed posing great risk to anyone using the sidewalks. The owner’s intentions were to dismantle the facility prior to the fair. Unfortunately she passed away unexpectedly; therefore it falls onto her heirs.
Myers reported the CRS (Community Rating System) program that assists in local flood insurance costs has been renewed for the fourth year. To remain in good standings with this program and continue to receive the 10% discount on flood insurance to those in the flood plain, several requirements must be met annually. There is potential to move up to a 15% savings, however that takes a lot of work and understanding. With next year being year five, Parsons will be up for review. Myers recommends utilizing the services offered by Barb Miller with JH Consulting. According to Myers, she is very well versed in this program and could lend great assistance and support within this program to potentially save even more on flood insurance. After explanation, it was unanimously agreed upon to utilize Miller and JH Consulting, LLC, which will not exceed $5,000 for the year.
There were no recent updates on the Kingsford Sewer Extension Project and the only update on the purchase of the Parsons Industrial Park is Attorney Pat Nichols ran into an unexpected issue and the deeds have yet to be mailed out to the sellers, but with plans to proceed this week.
Under new business, Auvil informed the Parks and Rec board voted to approve the request by Sexton Properties LLC to gain access to the rear of their building by crossing over the trail. In return, the Sexton’s will allow their parking area to be utilized as overflow parking for Mill Race Park events. The council agreed and approved. Auvil then proposed to move forward on the wastewater and sewage treatment upgrades, which everyone also agreed. Continuing new business, it was agreed to allow staff to attend a safety seminar at Morgantown Utility Board and to approve the new residential lease agreement with Diana DeLuca, with a change in rental fee to $600 and the permission of a single cat to reside on the premises. An executive session as then commenced behind closed doors.
Upon return, Myers explained briefly the situation regarding the audit and the lack of meeting bond requirements of 115%, which City of Parsons only sits at 85%. The only correspondence at this time is an alert that Atlantic Broadband is raising their rates. It was then moved to adjourn and the meeting concluded. The next City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, June 4 at 6 p.m. All are welcome.