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Middlebourne Rejects Thrasher For Project

By Staff | Jan 22, 2020

The town of Middlebourne convened for a regular council meeting on Monday, January 13 at 6 p.m. at the City Building. The first order of business listed on the agenda was to take action on approving the minutes of the previous council minutes as well as the Treasurer’s Report. A motion was quickly made to approve the aforementioned documents, and the motion was carried.

It was noted on the Treasurer’s Report that the sewer account appears low as they were required to purchase a pump in the amount of $10,450, which was stressed as a one time purchase. Town Manager Tena Lemasters said that while the account isn’t bad, it is lower than they’d like.

Rosanne Eastham with the Tyler County Public Library appeared before council to deliver statistics involving the library as well as thank the Town of Middlebourne for putting the levy on the ballot.

Eastham explained that a quote she often hears around town – “Go to the library, they will help you.” – is true as they offer various programs to help any individual stopping in. Eastham said that in addition to the library computers that locals regularly use to take online classes, look for jobs, and broaden their knowledge, they also provide craft nights, homework help, story hour for three to five year olds, and book discussion groups.

Although seeing a decline in numbers for the craft nights, this event – held five times a month, seven months during the school year for elementary students – draws in around 50 students each month. In regards to homework help for local students, it was said that between five and ten students seek the library’s help on this matter three times a week after school. Eastham then reported that they are working on putting together a game night for all ages where old board games, checkers, and things of that nature could be played.

The Tyler County Public Library also offers various databases for the use of those visiting. One such database that is sponsored by the library is the Learning Express website which reportedly gives users the opportunity to take practice college entrance exams, occupation practice tests, and many other skill building tests.

In regards to other programs offered by the library, Eastham mentioned the Summer Reading Program. There were nine programs in 2019 with 161 children and 7 adults in attendance. She reported that they anticipate the same amount, roughly, in attendance this coming year.

While in discussion on library funding, Eastham told council that they will receive $18,171 grants-in-aid from the state. The library is reportedly required to get local tax-based funding in the same amount. Last year, Eastham said they received $30,000 from the Board of Education, $6,000 from the county, and levy money from the Town of Middlebourne.

In other business, an update on the Route 18 water project was brought to the council. In regards to this, Mayor Seago noted that they were getting close to completing the project. It was also announced that at a recent water and sewage board meeting, the closing allotment was increased from $200,000 a year to $250,000 for all full time employees.

This amount reportedly covers extra expenses such as clothing and steel toe boots.

Following this, Lemasters then told those in attendance that another mussel survey would need to be done. This will reportedly cost an additional $6,000, which would come out of their contingency fund. The council voiced their frustration on the repeat of the project, but as a requirement, the council reportedly must complete the survey. It was said that the proposal had been submitted to the Department of USDA and appeared as if the payment had been approved.

Lemasters also explained to council that Thrasher was wanting to charge them $45,000 for inspections for the upcoming Contract 4. However, council had previously elected to use their own people for the inspections. While it was acknowledged that previous inspections were “more sophisticated,” this project was a task easily completed by their own people. Council also voiced their frustration at the high cost, evening out to about $1,000 a day. “It’s just a money grip.” one council member complained.

Thrasher was also wanting to charge the town $18,400 for something they titled “special.” Council questioned what this was, and why the payment for it was so high.

Another complaint of council’s was that they were also being charged for engineering fees, which they reportedly already paid for.

As a result, council made a motion to not hire Thrasher. This motion was quickly carried. City Attorney Gary Rymer also told council that he would be sending them a letter in regards to these matters. A motion was then made and subsequently carried in favor of accepting Hall’s Contracting in the amount of $239,390.

An update was also brought in relation to the clean up of properties in town. One property owner said that he’d have his property cleaned and up to standards by the end of January. Another individual who was ordered to clean his property was said to have done some work, but hadn’t truly completed anything. As such, papers will be served to him with the order to clean the property.

Mayor Steve Seago then informed the council that there would be an additional price of $700 on the street updates. This is because more pot holes were filled than originally slated. A motion was made to award J&T Paving, Excavating & Refrigeration, Inc. the additional $700, and the motion was quickly carried.

Under New Business, Lemasters brought a request from town employees in regards to employee insurance. While employee’s insurance covers medical, dental, and eye, it fails to cover hearing expenses. The employee’s were inquiring if they could receive hearing insurance as well. Insurance presented to council reportedly would cost $2.25 for each full time employee, and would cover their family. For a full time employee for a single individual, it would cost $0.90. Lemasters said that this was a really good price, and said that the insurance would also cover a “good chunk” of hearing aids.

The council were all in agreement that this was a great idea, and as such a motion was made and carried in favor of the insurance.

Mayor Seago announced the dates for a Budget Meeting Class in Bridgeport. It was decided by those wishing to attend – four council members in total – that they would attend the class on February 26 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. It was also established that the town would pay for one individual’s mileage as well as a meal for all attendees. A motion was made in regards to this, and it was carried.

While taking council concerns, one council member commented on the ongoing issue of feral cats in town. He explained that the abundance of cats poses a problem. However, it was explained that there is nothing the town can do as it is a county issue.

The council then entered into an Executive Session in order to discuss matters relating to employees.

Following this, the meeting was adjourned. Middlebourne Council will reconvene for their next regular meeting on February 10 at 6 p.m. at the City Building.