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Council helps area business

By Staff | Jul 20, 2011

The Sistersville City Council met Monday evening to discuss the business of the city. The meeting had been rescheduled due to last week’s inclement weather and subsequent power outage.

Jessica Swofford, owner of Willabell’s Child Care, attended the meeting to request a designated parking spot for her business. “I’d like to request a parking space in front of the daycare at 118 Virginia Street.”

Swofford said the designated parking space will be used primarily for the pick up and drop off of children. “What motivated my request was my experience this past winter, watching parents walk down icy sidewalks to the daycare. I sweep and put down ice melt so there is a safe place to enter and exit,” she said. “But I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to do my entire neighborhood.”

Further motivation was sparked from a recent conversation Swofford had with the state fire marshal. “He said it would be nice to have a designated parking space out front in case of an emergency evacuation.”

She noted the space will not be used by employees.

“I don’t see a problem with your request,” remarked Mayor Dave Fox. “Does anyone else?”

With no opposition to Swofford’s request, the council moved to approve the measure.

A sign will be posted in front of the daycare designating a parking spot for the exclusive use of parents and/or guardians who are picking up or dropping off children between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Parking in the space will be limited to 15 minutes.

Mayor Fox went on to update the council on the status of the water project. “They are past due on closing the water project. We have a contractor who has failed to fulfill their obligation to the city,” he said. “And we are pursuing this matter. The road (leading to the new water tank) is in terrible shape. There’s a lot they haven’t done.”

Fox informed council that some of the equipment the contractor installed for the city is not functioning properly. “They will not respond to us – they are months and months behind on this project,” he said.

Councilman Vance Ash presented a new employee incentive program for the approval of the council at-large. “This is just an incentive for the employees,” he explained. “For instance, if they show up for work as scheduled for six months and do not have any recordable injuries, they will receive a $120 bonus. The full year will be $240.”

Additional incentives will be given to city crew employees interested in testing to receive Class I or Class II operator’s certifications, CDL licenses or those who would like to become meter readers for the city. Pay raises would be given according to the certification, and only if the employee successfully passed the required tests.Ash must approve the requests, however, so all of the crew members do not carry the same certifications.

Though initially proposed for all full and part-time employees on the street, water, sewer and garbage crews, the council approved the program for all city employees (except for part time police officers), retroactive to July 1.

The council voted not to renew the contract for CWEP, a work program sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families. Councilman Curtis Heintzman explained the city’s stance on the matter. “We are basically providing them with liability (insurance). If they do something while they are working for us – if they get hurt – we are liable.”

“Most cities in the area are dropping the program,” Mayor Fox commented.

As mandated, the council voted to renew the line of credit opened to pay for the paving of streets in Sistersville. Recorder Diana Mace told council the terms and rates will remain the same.

The LOC is estimated to be paid off in approximately 18 months. “When we pay it off, we should start paving somewhere else in the city and make it an ongoing process,” Fox said.

Additionally, council approve a line of credit in the amount of $120,000 for the sewer project in Hanford City. Initially, the funds will be used for the design phase and application process for the project, with the sewer revenue used as collateral for the LOC. All money will be reimbursed through a grant.

Water Board Chairman Allan Maxwell said, “Tim Meeks said he’s never seen any project go as quickly as this one has.”

They hope to go out for bid on the project in as early as this summer. “Some of these projects have taken as long as five years to get started,” Fox remarked to contrast the timeline. “This thing has come together in less than a year.”

Harold Dally, president of the planning commission, gave his report for the month. “We have purchased three, 4-foot swings with chains to be placed at the park.” Dally said they are to be delivered this week.

Sistersville Tank Works donated the framework for the swings. “I want to thank Sistersville Tank Works for frames. It wasn’t a cheap thing to build. They have been a big help to the city,” Dally said.

According to Dally, the planning commission is also considering the construction of a 24-foot-by-24-foot shelter over the baby pool at the City Park. “We are taking this matter under advisement. When we receive an estimate on the cost, we will decide if we want to proceed with the project. It will be a big help to the ones who come with their kids. It will also save the little ones from getting sunburned.”

Dally also discussed the condition of Hubbard Park. Located on the property behind the post office, the park was constructed by Thompson’s Landscaping in Marietta, Ohio as a maintenance-free park. “It’s far from maintenance-free,” Dally remarked. “We are waiting on our former attorney to send us a copy of the contract with Thompson’s.”

Dally said he does not believe the contractor installed cloth under the mulch to impede the growth of weeds and grass. Because the city crew does not have time to keep up with the park, the space has been rendered unusable. To add to the aesthetic appeal of the area, the city is considering the construction of a shelter. “If we get some interest in the park, maybe we can get some help cleaning it up,” Fox added. “Right now it’s a jungle.”

Heintzman reported on the status of the state retirement program the city is buying into for the employees. “I am patiently working with the state to get the resolution package for the state retirement,” he said. “It’s just a matter of receiving the information.”

Councilman Ash told his colleagues that a representative from Wetzel-Valley made a surprise safety inspection recently and offered some suggestions on ways to make the city crew safer. “They gave us a path to go down,” Ash stated.

Ash will be implementing weekly safety meetings for the city crew. He pointed out that the more safety programs the city implements, the more discounts they will be eligible to receive on their insurance premiums. “It’s a good idea, and I’m all for it,” he concluded.

The city has purchased a new John Deere back-hoe with contingency funds procured through the grant for the Virginia Terrace project.

In other business, Chief Placer proposed the hiring of Alex Herrick to fill the vacancy on the police department. This will bring the force to full capacity with the chief and three patrolmen.

Herrick, who currently lives in New Martinsville, will ride along with the other officers until Placer is comfortable with his training progress.

Placer then updated the council on grant funding he is pursuing for equipment: a 50/50 grant for bullet-proof vests and a 90/10 grant for a new in-car camera.

He also informed those present that Momentive donated two printers to the Sistersville Police Department. The plant is interested in partnering with the SPD to help provide office equipment for the patrolmen.