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Gene Rice Commended for Sistersville Ferry Service

By Staff | Dec 20, 2017

At its Dec. 11 regular meeting, Sistersville Council approved the acceptance of a $5,000 grant from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Job Development Council. The money will be used toward paying down a balance for a test well drilled at the Tyler County Public Service District for the Sistersville water project.

Barbara Gage, chair of the Fair Board, reported that the board received a $15,000 Harry and Olive Barth Public Foundation grant to install an ADA-approved dock and kayak access systems. Gage announced that the ferry ended the 2017 season with enough funds to carry them through to 2018.

Gage gave special recognition to Gene Rice.

“He has been unbelievable to this ferry since he took over in 2014. When he took it over we were financially strapped, and we were just making ends meet. He established a fiscally responsible operating schedule,” said Gage.

She went on to say that Rice had personally taken on a lot of repairs and personal projects, as well at put his own money into the ferry. He scheduled cruises and made sure the operation ran smoothly. Rice wrote several grants for the ferry including the Barth grant that was just received.

“He has managed remarkably well, so when you see him tell him thank you,” urged Gage.

Mayor Bill Rice gave an update on the water board.

“If you look at your water bill at home… Your water bill says $39 for 3500 gallons and your paying $36 for sewer. Well, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out you can’t run a sewer plant 24 hours a day for $36,” said Bill Rice.

It was noted that the sewer rate should be higher than the water and that the mistake was caused by the past administration not implementing two planned rate increases.

Mayor Rice said the board is looking for ways to curb costs on the monthly bills, so a possible rate increase will minimally affect residents. The board is exploring the idea of eliminating the $5 paving fee. The board will make a decision over the next few months on the matter.

City Attorney Krista Fleegle said she has a good working draft for the city’s dilapidated building ordinance; however, she suggests to form a subcommittee to review the draft. The subcommittee would also help in acquiring a licensed building code inspector to deem buildings as dilapidated.

Council member Charles Heinline expressed concerns regarding the safety of the old Sistersville High School. There are rumors the building was purchased for possible renovation. The issue was tabled until further information is gathered.

Council member Alex King said that the parks and recreation committee raised enough money from a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to purchase the first piece of new equipment for the park.

The parks and recreation board announced last month that they plan to replace the faulty equipment in the park due to safety concerns.

Mayor Rice brought up the topic of the city’s fire fee. For rental properties, the fire fees must be paid by both the renter and the property owner. Rice said the city will be reviewing to see the fees are collected by both renters and owners.

City Recorder Chad Edwards asked the council to consider budgeting a reimbursement to the Sistersville Public Library for a roof replacement, for next year’s budget. The city is responsible for the upkeep of the building.

Christmas bonuses were approved in the amount of $250 for full-time employees and $150 for part-time employees.