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Building sustains serious damage

By Staff | Sep 14, 2011

The repairs to the roof of the Sistersville City Building could cost the city more than $150,000.

A strong odor tipped off the staff at the Sistersville City Building, resulting in the discovery of a large leak that could cost the city a small fortune to repair.

City Manager Vance Ash said, “It’s leaking pretty bad. This is a big issue.” In fact, Ash estimates the repair to cost in excess of $150,000.

According to Ash, a local contractor was contacted to give an estimate on the repair, however, the company was reluctant to tackle to job. This prompted Ash to contact a company in Wheeling. “They did the roof at the old school,” he explained.

Additionally, Ash has drafted a letter to Del. Roger Romine (R-Tyler), Sen. Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) and Sen. Larry Edgell (D-Wetzel) to garner support for the repair project. Ash hopes, with their backing, state funds can be procured to offset the financial burden on the City of Sistersville.

Aside from the high cost to repair the roof, the structure, which was built in 1897, is also listed on the registry of historical sites. When deteriorated, damaged, or lost features of a historic building need repair or replacement, it is usually a requirement that contractors use historic materials. In limited circumstances substitute materials that imitate historic materials may be used if the appearance and properties of the historic materials can be matched closely and no damage to the remaining historic fabric will result. This means the city may be required to use slate in the repair project.

“We will get estimates for all options,” stated Mayor Dave Fox.

Councilman Bill Rice reminded the council at-large that a portion of the roof was repaired approximately nine years ago. While they are not sure where the new leak started, they suspect the origin is not in the part previously repaired.

In the meantime, a bad odor has spread throughout the building. When it rains, the building cannot be used at all. A fact that has put City Recorder Diana Mace in a precarious situation, as city business is ongoing.

To resolve this issue, Mayor Fox is looking into using the building which formally housed Dr. Boone’s medical practice on the corner of Virginia Street as a temporary site for city operations, including the operation of the Sistersville Police Department. However, an issue of space may put this plan in jeopardy.

Planning Commission President Harold Dally informed the council the commission is moving forward with a project to erect a “welcome” sign near the ferry landing. The group has contracted Matt Kinnard to fabricate the sign, which is one of two that has been approved by the council.

In addition, the commission has agreed to donate funds to the VFW flag fund to procure 33 flags.

Ash discussed the area near the park on McCoy Street directly behind Wable Ford that is currently blocked off. He said recently discovered structural damage prompted the road closure.

Police Chief Ben Placer informed the councilmen and the mayor of recent issues with the police cruisers. “A couple of days ago the (controls) on the dash went out on the silver car,” he said. “Then, before the parade on Sunday the transmission went out in the white car.”

Fire Chief Steve Leasure weighed in on the discussion. “If you would quit buying junk and buy through the state bid, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Mayor Fox said, “It’s always a matter of money.”

To this end, Placer informed those gathered he was looking into grant funding to offset the purchase of a new, reliable vehicle for the department. Although most available funds are base on the per capita income of the area, the substantial percentage could be allotted to the city should grants be awarded.

In public forum, Sarah Frankhouser appeared before the council to discuss the ongoing issues with stray animals in the city limits. “I’m an animal lover,” she said. “But they are taking over. Now people are resorting to shooting animals.”

Chief Placer verified he had taken a report from Ms. Frankhouser and another resident regarding a cat that had been injured last week.

“I keep my animals monitored,” Frankhouser said. “I don’t want to clean up after animals that don’t belong to me.”

Mayor Fox said, “We’ve had this problem forever.” He added the issue is a factor of not having an animal shelter in the county.

Chief Placer added, “Other areas have animal control ordinance, but these areas also have animal shelters.”

Last year, the city paid a company to come in and trap stray cats. According to Mayor Fox, they caught and removed approximately 100 strays. “It worked pretty well,” he said.

The company, however, has since gone out of business.

Frankhouser quickly returned to the discussion of the animal shelter. “Why don’t we have one?” she asked.

Mayor Fox said, “That’s a county issue. There are only two counties in West Virginia without shelters. We are actually supposed to have one.”

“What about an ordinance pertaining to animal hoarders,” Frankhouser said.

“There is no ordinance limiting how many pets you can own and I’m not inclined to take away people’s pets.”

Allan Maxwell commented, “If a person is hoarding cats and it’s causing an odor, it could fall under the nuisance ordinance because it’s causing a health and safety issue.”

“We work hard for what we have. Why should we let animals destroy it?” Frankhouser asked.

“I’ve had more meetings with other mayors and the county than I can count over animal control. I got abolsutely nowhere,” Fox said. He told Frankhouser to speak with other residents who support an animal shelter in the county, urging them to collectively speak with the County Commission regarding the problem.

The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. All meetings are open to the public.