By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Proclamations and updates from Thrasher were the bulk of the meeting’s agenda for the Parsons City Council. After City Administrator Jason Myers led the group in The Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Dorothy Judy opened the meeting with a word of prayer. Board Member and Recorder Bruce Kolsun took roll with all present except Councilwoman Amy Wagner.
Audience and guests were addressed first, beginning with Carol Bush, Partnership Specialist with the United States Census Bureau. Her main goal was to begin getting the word out regarding the upcoming 2020 census and the importance it serves. The census can be completed by either paper, phone, or online, however they will not be delivered to post office boxes. “We’re trying to develop grass root support to get the best results possible,” Bush explained. “The basic message is that the census is easy, it’s safe, and it’s really important,” and is also mandated by the constitution. The census, which has happened every ten years since 1790, determines our congressional representation, districts, and how over $675 billion is distributed amongst the states and territories among other things. The census doesn’t become available until spring of 2020, but becoming aware now is crucial to its success. Myers requested Bush or someone from the census inform the city when they will be in the area to make residents aware of their presence.
Representatives from The Thrasher Group, Inc, Eleni Brick and Dave Watson, who will serve as the project manager for the sewage extension project, took the floor next. The USDA has approved the project to begin moving forward; however, the environmental agencies requested the site be surveyed for an endangered plant species known as Running Buffalo Clover. Councilman Tim Auvil wanted to ensure the sewage lines being used will be big enough to handle the sewage from the future Industrial Park businesses, to which they ensured it would be. More details were discussed so the necessary preparations can be made to begin the project as soon as able.
Judy jumped ahead to New Business momentarily to recognize Tiffany Auvil, employee of Davis Medical Center Population Health Department, present to request a proclamation recognizing the month of May, 2019 as Older American’s Month. Kolsun read the proclamation and Auvil further noted, the each day, approximately 10,000 individuals turn 65 years of age or older. The national theme for this effort is connect, create, and contribute.
Once the photo was taken, Judy returned to the agenda routine with no public comments and the approval of the previous meeting minutes. The invoice lists prepared by Danielle Sponaugle, Assistant Administrator and Finance Director, were reviewed in the amounts of $119,280.25 and $389.90, both approved. Quotes and estimates were then presented for $1,150 for lights and electrical work needed at the water plant, $2,705.00 for two chlorinators and accessories needed for the water plant, and $5,400 for the guardrail installation at the new entrance to Mill Race Park. Myers elaborated briefly on the guardrail quote which has decreased due to the Division of Highways changing the type of guardrails needed for the speed zone the entrance falls in. The quote includes the removal of around 50 linear feet of guardrail and installing approximately 200 feet to edge the new entrance.
The Employee and Committee Reports began with Chief T. D. Roberts of the Parsons City Police Department. He commented his unit has been working diligently on the spring cleanup efforts and informed that after the event concludes, any unaddressed areas of concern will be issued citations. Sponaugle then presented a flyer of upcoming events prepared by Events Coordinator, Tammy Greenlief. The flyer was reviewed and minor edits made before approval. She also mentioned the need of desk name plates for the City Police and a reminder of the upcoming food handler’s course on Monday, May 13 at 6 p.m.
Myers stated the new Mill Race Park entrance was near completion and thanked Councilman Samuel Blosser for his work on the project. The historical sign has been relocated and said once the new entrance is opened, the original entry will be gated off. The connection between Shop n’ Save and Dollar General has also been complete which should aid in traffic flow and safety. The project did go over budget due to the materials used being concrete instead of asphalt, but it was necessary due to the width of the connection being too small for a roller to pass through. Portions of D&W Lane will also be paved with anticipation of being done by the end of June.
Myers continued stating the HVAC unit in the Community Center has been installed, but also came in over budget due to the need to replace portions of the duct work rats had been chewing through. The work has been completed at the Sedimentary House and Wamsley Run is complete as well. The cleaning of the Pulp Mill Bottom pond is underway and the application for a grant for a project a Corricks Ford has been submitted.
There is concern over the unsafe sidewalk conditions on Poplar Street and is being looked into. Myers heard back regarding the concerns of the council about the broadband proposal to utilize city property to construct a broadband tower. The council was concerned over the 20 year commitment and the liability. The findings were the Federal Government sets the 20 year requirement and the liability will be covered when an agreement is signed.
The audit is underway to which Myers informed there were no findings in 2016, however in 2017 it was noted they did meet their bond rate covenant. Because of this, a water and/or sewage increase is going to be needed. “Our last rate increase was 2012,” Myers said. During the last increase contingencies were made to ensure it would be an ample amount to sustain the need for a length of time, however, as Auvil said, “What ate it up, and this is important to know, is our liability insurance.” “Insurance is what caused our revenues to be diminished,” he said. “Liability is payroll,” Myers added, “and remember we give a 2% pay raise every year for our employees.” That comes to about $10,000 per year added expenses just in the pay raises. Myers explained the city is supposed to have 115% in coverage in reserve, which includes checking, savings, and all bonds. Currently, the city sits at just 85% which results in the Prosecuting Attorney being made aware of this matter by the Auditor, and the city has to reply with their plan of action to correct the issue.
Myers did note there has been a large increase of sewage backups recently that needs addressed. Auvil then provided an update from Parks and Recreation and wanted to remind the residents that there is no need for any special skates to utilize the synthetic ice skating rink. Traditional skates are all that is needed and the sharper the better.
Moving into unfinished business, the second reading took place to consider an ordinance vacating, abandoning and annulling the undeveloped section of Sugar Maple Lane from Loughry Street to Luflin Street. There will be a public meeting on the issue on June 4 at 6 p.m.
Under new business, Kolsun read the recommendations of the Personnel Committee to fill some vacant positions for the city. It was recommended and approved to hire the following: Allen Malone, Temporary Groundskeeper for Parsons Parks and Recreation, Marshall Parsons, Jr., Seasonal Groundskeeper Position at the Parsons Cemetary, and Melissa Jones to finish the vacant term as a Council Member of Ward One. It was also agreed upon to promote Patrolman N. C. Gidley from a probationary status to a regular, full-time employee. Kolsun then read another proclamation to declare April 2019 as National Donate Life Month. Kolsun shared the story of his son stating he (his son) wouldn’t be here today if not for selfless organ donors.
It was also agreed to allow the Tucker County Fair Board to utilize the downtown streets for a circus on Friday, June 8, and will also donate dumpsters for the event. Bids were reviewed for the vehicles and equipment that was deemed surplus property, all of which were rejected, revised, and will be reposted. Donna Helmick, Municipal Judge of Parsons, submitted a letter concerning the current court costs. As of present, the local court costs are set at $74, significantly lower than the municipalities surrounding Parsons. It was requested and agreed upon to raise these fees to $125. It was also proposed and agreed to allow staff to attend the W.Va. Rural Water Association Conference and authorizing John “Red” Lipscomb as a voting delegate with Myers as an alternative at the event.
There was no business to discuss within good of the order or correspondences, therefore the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29 at 6 p.m. and as always, the public is welcome to attend.