Sistersville Mayor David B. Fox signed a resolution Monday evening to accept a $100,000 budget appropriation from the state to fund the city's ferryboat operation.
The money comes on the heels of a grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration for improvements, and will ensure the historic vessel continues to operate on the Ohio River between Sistersville and Fly, Ohio.
Eric Peters, the executive director of the Tyler County Development Authority, was on hand to explain the process. "I just need you to make a motion to accept the agreement," he stated.
"And we definitely need to accept this," Fox said.
"This is an appropriation, not a grant," he noted. "This means $100,000 has been set aside from the West Virginia Public Port Authority Budget to be dedicated to the ferryboat," Peters explained. He noted that the finds could be used for many things, including payroll, insurance premiums, maintenance, improvements, etc.
Before council approved the resolution, Councilman Curtis Heintzman requested clarification. "It states 'the city shall maintain for five years appropriate records for the project. . .'" he said, reading from the agreement.
"This is boilerplate language from the attorneys at the D.O.T," Peters said, "What it means is you will have to keep track of the invoices that come in, what the funds are used for and that it was duly approved. Any expenditures need to be approve by the Port Authority representative."
In this instance, Peters will serve as the liaison between the municipality and the port authority.
The council unanimously voted to approve the resolution.
Last month, representatives from the department to request the city's support in the purchase of a new pumper. They noted several reasons for the replacement of the emergency vehicle, many of which dealt with safety and compliance with governmental regulations.
Rev. Bill Dawson, who serves on the department, informed the council they had received information on a new truck that meets their needs. However, the department was required to request sealed bids before council could move on the matter. Monday evening, they opened two bids received in response to the request: one for $230,000 and another for $250,000.
As required, the council approved a motion to accept the lowest bid, which was submitted by Pierce.
In other business, Park Commissioner Alexis Billings announced that park hours will be extended through the summer months. During this time, residents will be allowed on the grounds until 11 p.m.
Billings also informed council that the city's pool will open on Thursday, May 24 for the season. Admission will be $3 per person. Pool passes are available at the City Building. "The pool is available for pool parties, as well," Billings remarked. For more information, call 304-652-6361.
Mayor Fox asked permission to accept bids for the renovation of the upstairs area in the municipal building. This space, which is currently vacant, will be used as office space.
The city will request bids for the laying of new carpet and the installation of an updated telephone system.
Under urban renewal, Planning Commission President Tom Gray informed the council of the status of the program. "I have a copy of the code book and I've read over it," he said. "IWe have to follow suit and follow it step by step."
Gray stated he has received several phone calls regarding the condition of properties in the city limits. "It's like a cancer. It's bad, and it's getting worse."
While the city is working toward implementing measures to eliminate abandoned, dilapidated and deteriorated structures, the "urban renewal" process is lengthy.
Gray proposed the formation of a separate committee dedicated to the mission of urban renewal. "We people who are willing to go on the hunt of properties and get them addressed in a proper and orderly fashion."
"When you say 'get them addressed,' which committee or organization has the authority and the teeth to tell you to get something done? There's where your issue is," Fox said.
"That's why we need a committee," Gray responded. "That way everyone is educated on this. I just don't know who would be willing to do it. . .I don't know how to get this fox out of this hole."
Gray noted that while the project would deal mostly with vacant properties, there are some in the city where families currently dwell. "Now we have a issue with well-being," he said. "If you go knocking on that door. . .it can be a tough battle."
Anyone interested is participating on the Urban Renewal Committee can inquire by calling the city building at 304-652-6361.
Mayor Fox advised that the Sistersville VFD is considering reinstating the old siren used for emergency services. It will be transported to be evaluated, and if it is in working condition they will make a decision about where it should be installed. He noted it could be used for several courtesies in addition to it's value for alerting the department to emergency calls, such as tornado warnings or to announce the nightly curfew.
Before adjourning, Councilman Mitch Corley reminded council the Relay For Life event is slated for June 1 at the Sistersville City Park. "This is an all night event," he noted.