Halloween buffs will get their treats a day early again this year, the Buckhannon City Council decided at its regular meeting Thursday. Mayor Kenny Davidson suggested setting trick-or-treating from 6 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30 — the day before Halloween.
Davidson made the proposal in to effort to avoid “scheduling conflicts” that might arise due to the fact that the Stockert Youth Center’s annual Halloween party will be held on Saturday, Oct. 31. Councilman Dave Thomas seconded the motion, and the council unanimously approved the proposal.
Guest speaker Richard Edwards, president of the Buckhannon-Upshur Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, also addressed the council about the board’s progress in implementing plans to build the Upshur County Wellness Complex off Brushy Fork Road. The county commission has assigned the board the project of “developing and constructing a complex” that would house a baseball and softball field; a field for soccer, football and lacrosse; playground and restroom facilities; and eventually a path to be used for running, walking and biking.
Edwards said the board has reached Stage 3 of the planning process, in which the construction of parking, water fountains, restrooms, a playground and the pedestrian/cycling path will begin. Edwards estimated that these projects would require $300,000 and reported that a “fundraising committee is being formed as we speak.”
He requested a letter of support from the city council and asked if a member of the council would be willing to sit on the fundraising committee. Councilman Keith “Skeeter” Queen made a motion to provide a letter of support, which the council unanimously approved.
Though no motions were made to appoint a specific council member to the fundraising committee, members of the council expressed support for the idea. Davidson requested that Edwards provide an estimate of how much the installation of sewer and water lines would cost. Edwards also said he hoped to have the fundraising committee formed by October 13.
Street commissioner Jerry Arnold reported that the city’s street sweeper, which was purchased in 1999 for $96,500, had “exceeded [its] life expectancy.” Arnold estimated that the current cost to replace the sweeper would surpass $150,000.
“I would like to explore the possibility of contracting this service out,” Arnold said.
Thomas was hesitant, suggesting that the street department supply the council with “more analysis.”
Queen replied, “I think he [Arnold] has provided us with a pretty good analysis here, Dave. All he’s doing is asking us for permission to put out bids to service providers.”
Queen made a motion to give Arnold permission to begin exploring the cost of contracting out street sweeping. The council approved the motion, including Thomas. Arnold noted that the city’s street sweeper could still be used for special events, such as Strawberry Festival.
Zoning officer Rich Clemens was absent from Thursday’s meeting, but Davidson presented his departmental report. Questions arose over the Historic Landmarks Commission’s request to apply for a second grant to survey homes and establish a historic residential district that Kanawha, College, Florida and Madison Streets would border. Clemens’ report asked for “not more than $1,000” from the city that would match the commission’s contribution to the grant application process. The grant is required to be submitted by the end of October.
“My biggest question is, do we have the money available to give?” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Lee.
City recorder Nancy Shobe wanted to know how the specific area was chosen. Thomas asked whether the survey of homes and construction of the district would “affect what people could do to their homes.” Davidson suggested the council table a vote until the next meeting.
The council received communication from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s West Virginia state office about the rural business enterprise grant the city is to receive on behalf of the farmers’ market. The letter laid out “conditions which must be understood and agreed to by [the city]” before the agreement is finalized and the city receives any grant funding. Davidson suggested that the council appoint a committee “to look at this” in the future and referred to ongoing “communication issues” with members of the local farmers’ market.
In unfinished business, Davidson asked Thomas if he had any documents to provide to the council in response to Shobe’s request for an investigation at the Sept. 4 council meeting. At a July 2 council meeting, Thomas voted against Shobe’s reappointment to the position of city treasurer and, according to Shobe, accused her of “[violating her] fiduciary responsibilities” and the city charter. Thomas said he had no response “at this time,” but would provide one at the city’s next meeting on October 15.
The council approved the Safe Routes to School Grant (Resolution 2009-16), the Recreational Trails Grant (Resolution 2009-17) and the Resolution 2009-18 (Budget Adjustment for general Fund/Coal Tax 09-10 FY) unanimously.
In other city council business, Dennis J. Willett resigned from his position on the Buckhannon Police Commission. Fire Chief Mitch Tacy, who was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, sent the council a letter reminding the public that fire season began that day. Burning within the city limits is prohibited, while those who live outside are not permitted to burn outdoors until 4 p.m.
The Buckhannon Upshur Retail Merchants Association submitted a letter to the council informing members that their Annual Fall Shopping Event was slated for Friday, Oct. 16. The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
City Attorney David McCauley and council member Jerry Henderson were absent from Thursday’s meeting.