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Cold Weather Causes Extra Callouts In NM

January 15, 2014
BY AMY WITSCHEY - Editor ( , Wetzel Chronicle

New Martinsville Council met on Thursday after delaying their regular meeting, scheduled for Jan. 6, because of the extremely cold temperatures.

During the department head meeting, which is open to the public and always held one hour prior to the regular meeting, the winter weather continued to be a topic of discussion.

Water/Sewer Department Manager Pat Durant said the extremely cold weather kept his department active. "We've been really busy shutting people off and turning people back on," said Durant. He said Thursday that since Jan. 4 his department had 16 callouts after hours for those kinds of issues. The good news was that the city didn't have any water problems on their lines during the arctic chill.

On a side note, Durant confirmed Tuesday that the city's water comes exclusively from wells; none comes from the Ohio River. Many people have been inquiring about that since the state of emergency in the Kanawha Valley.

Of course the harsh winter weather also kept the street department busy. Street Commissioner Gary Willey said his crew was called out eight times for snow removal/street treatment.

On Thursday Willey said people keep calling about ice on the flat streets. "We do the intersections and the hills. We can't do all the streets," said Willey, citing the price of cinders, which was doubled in recent years.

The city never uses salt to treat the streets. "What we have are the state-certified cinders that are soaked in salt brine," said Willey. "When it gets below zero, they don't work. Twenty degrees and up, or sunshine, they melt ice."

Once again council talked about the condition of Lamont Lane. Some work by a private contractor has reportedly caused some troubles in the area. Now that the blacktop plant is not in operation, it is impossible to do a permanent fix on the street.

"He should be made to have to keep it passable," said Mayor Keith Nelsen. "It is getting worse. There is a significant amount of water running down that street."

They discussed some plans of action, all which will ultimately be the responsibility of the contractor.

Fire Chief Larry Couch reported his department had responded to 42 calls in December. For the year, the NMVFD was called upon for assistance 371 times. That number is down from 422 in 2012, which pleased Couch who said he hoped some of the false alarms had been eliminated.

New Martinsville Police Department Patrolman Michael Owens reported that new officer Jason Utt is currently at the West Virginia Police academy. "He is doing well as far as I know," said Owens.

The department will test more possible officers on Jan. 25. The city received 25 applications for those jobs.

The NMPD received its new cruiser Jan. 8.

Resident Fran Caldwell asked how many tickets the department has written for cell phone violations since the city enacted their own ordinance prohibiting it. Owens and Couch, who also serves as the city's police judge, said they did not know of any written by the NMPD.

"What's the point of writing an ordinance if we don't enforce it?" asked Caldwell.

Owens said he hasn't seen the code yet. Once he does, he'll enforce it. Recorder Bonnie Shannon said she has sent the ordinance to the department, but if Owens hasn't seen it, she'll give him a copy personally.

Couch revisited his request to make the city's traffic codes correspond with the state traffic code, with the exception of jail offenses. If that is completed, then fines will stay with the city. Otherwise they go to magistrate court and the city doesn't get any fines or costs.

Mayor Keith Nelsen directed Councilman Holly Grandstaff to get a meeting held on it and move those forward.



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