POINT PLEASANT — Members of the latest version of city government in Point Pleasant took their seats around the council table Monday night for their first, official meeting as elected officials.
Council members were introduced to various department heads in the city, including City Inspector Jeremy Bryant, Tourism Director Denny Bellamy and Street Commissioner Willie Call. Bryant reported the building which was demolished on Main Street has now been completely removed with fill dirt being placed at the site by the contractor last weekend.
Bellamy spoke to council about how tourism affects Point Pleasant. He noted the excursion boat the American Queen will be making a stop in Point Pleasant from 1-6 p.m., Sunday, July 15. The city financially benefits from these stops by providing the boat with water, sanitation services and transportation of the crew for supplies. The city also bills for transporting passengers to various tourism locations. The American Queen’s only other stop in West Virginia will be in Wheeling. Bellamy also reported Ft. Randolph is now open Thursday - Sunday.
Call reported council needed a new flood wall committee with new council members appointed to it. Both Call and Billings spoke about city crews picking up storm debris and tree limbs. In the storm’s aftermath, Bryant said the city had received a special, one-time permit to burn this debris.
Council also took the following action: Allow those from outside delegations on the meeting agenda to address council for 10 minutes and those not on the agenda five minutes to speak. Allowed the mayor a spending allowance for city purchases for up to $10,000 - this money is not for personal use but to be used in an emergency when needed, such as last year when a bucket truck was needed and was purchased. Council will always be notified as to how the money was spent.
Council appointed City Clerk Amber Tatterson as city treasurer, R.F. Stein, Jr. as city attorney, Ernie Watterson as chief of police, Willie Call as street commissioner, Keith Sargent to the planning commission and Charles Towner to the historic landmark commission. Council also voted to switch internet providers, switching to Suddenlink Communications for a three-year contract which includes free installation.
Stein informed council the North Point Pleasant Drainage Project had about 46 percent of the right-of-ways needed to move the project to the next phase - funding. The city must have 80 percent of these agreements signed to proceed.
Stein said he’d only received one bid to survey the Sixth Street parking lot owned by the West Virginia Department of Highways. Council asked him to obtain more bids for the survey. The city must pay for the survey in order to get ownership of the parking lot for $1.
Stein also spoke about the Yeagar property on Main Street, saying he had sent a deed to the owner for his signature but received it back unsigned, with handwritten notes saying the property was supposed to be turned into a park in order for the city to obtain the lot. Many on council felt legal action should be taken to tear the property down. Council members Bob Doeffinger and Linda Smith said they were working on getting grant money to help with demolition of dilapidated properties in town.
Council asked Watterson to look into how other towns deal with the issue of charitable organizations asking for permission to collect donations in the roadway, such as when these organizations set up in front of the Point Pleasant Municipal Building. There’s been some question about liability issues for the city concerning this issue.
Council approved bids for paving a section of Krodel Park as well as Lewis Street. The low bids were from Myers Paving for $25,500 for Krodel and $7,850 for Lewis Street. Paving begins on Thursday.
During the discussion relating to council concerns, Doeffinger asked members to look at signage laws in the city and enforce these laws - citing use of temporary signs by some establishments. Doeffinger asked about weed removal along the sidewalks and curbs to which Billings said city crews had been out this week starting that project.
Councilman Allen Moran asked the city to consider recognizing Mason County Schools for opening the temporary shelter at PPJ/SHS following the storm which took out power for many. He mentioned the school system providing meals as well at no cost to those in need. Billings said a certificate of appreciate could be prepared and that the city also provided free dumpster service at the shelter. Moran was also concerned about the lack of communication in the community after the storm and said he wanted to attend a Mason County 911 meeting to see how the city could help this situation should it arise again.
Councilman Keith Sargent said he’d received complaints of speed on several backstreets, as well as the possible need for a stop sign at 23rd St. and Jefferson Ave. He also said paving needed to be done on Mt. Vernon Ave. between 21st and 22nd Streets. Sargent and others commended city workers for the efforts to clean up around town as well.
Smith said council needed to consider purchasing a new cruiser for the police department with many of them having high mileage at this time. The police committee is to meet with Watterson about this before the next council meeting.
Councilman Bob Rulen asked council to consider prohibiting parking on the street at 28th Street, saying it creates an obstruction and danger, especially when school is in session. He also suggested a crosswalk be placed in the area. He then asked for two, new handicapped spaces to be created in front of Main Street Baptist Church. He also said he would like to see council meet for working sessions in between meetings to help address problems in the community and make progress towards finding solutions for these problems.
Councilman Rick Simpkins reported complaints about the drainage in Meadowbrook Addition.
Billings also reported the Point Pleasant River Museum was receiving a donation of river boat whistles thanks to Charlie Jones and Amherst Industries. These whistles will run by diesel and be used at certain, dedicated times during the year. Billings also said Amherst helped pull the sunken boat from the Riverfront Park last week at no cost.