POINT PLEASANT — Point Pleasant City Council approved a one-time payment of $300 to employees who choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Attending this week’s regular meeting were Mayor Brian Billings, City Clerk Amber Tatterson, City Attorney Joe Supple, council persons (at large) Robert McMillan, Gabe Roush, council members (by ward) Corrie Fetty, Paul Knisley, Cody Greathouse, Leigh Ann Shepard, Nathan Wedge, Judy Holland, Diana Hall, Dylan Handley. City Accountant Shannon Pearson, Administrative Assistant Teka McCauley, Street Commissioner Randy Hall, were also present. The meeting was held virtually via the Zoom platform.
Mayor Billings proposed the payment to city employees who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, saying he and Tatterson had researched what other cities, including Huntington and Charleston, had done regarding similar payments. The funding would come from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) money.
Billings said, at this time, about half of the city’s approximately 50 employees, including both full and part-time, had been vaccinated. When proposing the payment for voluntary vaccination against COVID-19, the Mayor said many city employees work in close proximity of one another, often sharing the same office space and vehicles.
Council unanimously approved the motion. Full-time and part-time employees will be required to present their vaccination card to receive the payment with the program beginning this week.
Council approved the most recent payment for the river museum project (#7), in the amount of $271,209.08. The project is “still on schedule,” according to Tatterson.
After hearing from Mike Davis from the city’s engineering firm, Burgess & Niple, council approved moving forward with the bidding process to replace the Potters Creek water tank and updates to the controlling system at the water treatment plant. Davis stated the city could possibly use some of the American Rescue Act (ARC) to fund the projects. It’s estimated the city may receive $1.6 million in ARC money.
The Mayor announced Bruce Chapman was retiring Oct. 29, and “had done a tremendous job at the sewer department and will be missed.” Based upon speaking with sewer department employees, Chapman and Tatterson, the Mayor suggested Jeffery J. Swisher, city employee, to step into Chapman’s role. This will initially be for a six-month period, and then will be re-evaluated in regards to putting Swisher in the role permanently and replacing Swisher’s current position. Swisher will be training with Chapman. Council unanimously agreed and approved a motion.
Main Street Point Pleasant Director Chris Rizer informed council a work day with volunteers was scheduled to help clear some items from the historic Kisar house, such as drop ceiling tile and paneling, to prepare for interior work. Rizer asked about using a dump truck and dump fee to assist.
Wedge made a motion to donate the truck and fee for one day with council unanimously approving.
“I think this is a good thing that’s going to make our city look better, I think it’s a good project so I would like to see it be done and hopefully we can save them some money doing that [waiving the fees],” Wedge said.
“I agree, I’m glad to see some work being done down that way,” Handley said.
Rizer also added, Main Street and the Brownfield Center, could provide the city with funds to complete environmental studies at the boat launch property – one would be for the land, another is a mussel study through Marshall University. Council approved the motion and Rizer is to provide information to the U.S. Army Corps of engineers which also is a stakeholder in the property and then present the city with paperwork to allow permission to fund the free studies.
Supple updated council on a lawsuit the city filed against a landowner who owns a property on Lincoln Avenue due to “vegetation” and the city removing it. Supple said currently, he had filed a motion for default judgment in the amount of $14,000. He said at this point, no judgement has been made by the court.
Due to a manpower shortage in the city and to take advantage of the warmer weather, council approved advertising for bid work on the Meadowbrook Drainage Project. Supple reported all easements had been obtained.
Council approved moving October’s regular meeting to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12 due to Columbus Day.
Council set Trick-or-Treat for 5:30-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 28.
Tatterson said she’s been informed by organizers of the Point Pleasant Halloween Block Party, the event has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The block party is traditionally held in a confined space in a specific downtown area.
Council approved advertising for four paving projects as presented by Mayor Billings, which includes sections within the following areas: near the Post Office and Lowe Hotel; Main Street to the flood wall near the Post Office; behind Bordman’s Furniture and the Chamber office, to Third Street; Third Street from Main in the direction of the flood wall.
The Mayor said he met with a representative from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regarding reports of 12-15 dead catfish in the lake at Krodel Park. The DEP representative took water samples but conveyed he felt it had to do with with oxygen and weather conditions, rather than a foreign substance, Billings said.
The Mayor and Hall updated on the old city swimming pool, announcing layers of dirt and gravel are being filled into the old pool to eventually, possibly turn the area into batting cages. Vandalism has reportedly been ongoing at the site.
It was noted that one of the city’s previous administrations had donated all its supplies from the old city pool to the New Haven Municipal Pool and no other supplies remained.
“The council that year decided that was the proper thing to do to help a fellow community,” Billings said.
Council concerns included (but were not limited to):
McMillan enquired about the mowing contract for the cemeteries along Jackson Avenue and Sand Hill Road. Hall said mowing should happen this week.
McMillan also asked about mowing along the median on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Hall said that had occurred earlier that day.
Both Greathouse and Shepard conveyed concerns from citizens regarding what appears to be homeless persons at Riverfront Park, including reports of some sleeping on tables.
As noted this spring, Mayor Billings said officers are sent to these areas, particularly when there are events at the riverfront. He previously said he had spoken to Police Chief Joe Veith about issues at the park and flood wall and Veith recommended if anyone sees anything of concern to call Mason County 911 and request a city patrolman be dispatched. Both Greathouse and Shepard said they had conveyed that message to their constituents.
Greathouse also reported he had heard the concession stand had been broken into at Harmon Park and a restroom had been vandalized. The Mayor said officers were stepping up patrols in that area.
During the meeting, it was noted, the Point Pleasant Police Department currently has seven officers, total. A discussion ensued on how to retain officers but no action was taken.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.