City Will Charge Chamber $1,000 Per Month
Beginning Sept. 1 the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce will be charged $1,000 per month for use of the former New Martinsville City Hall on Main Street.
That was the unanimous decision of New Martinsville City Council Monday night; Councilman Joel Potts III was not in attendance at the meeting.
“I’m not sure that we can afford $1,000 per month,” said Chamber President Don Riggenbach. He said that while the WCCC does have some money in the bank, it is earmarked for industrial park development. He added that the chamber will be paying for materials to construct a new road to connect Kappel and Foundry streets near the park. That project, he said, will be beneficial to the city. The project has been mentioned in past council meetings as something that will hopefully alleviate ongoing problems on Anderson Lane.
Also, he said the current tenant at the industrial park has 22 employees and undoubtedly adds to the city’s coffers through business and occupation taxes. The chamber is talking of building more buildings at the park that would hopefully create more jobs, in turn generating more business and occupation tax.
“There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know the chamber does,” said Riggenbach.
Their primary focus is economic development. While they do serve the entire county, most of their projects are directly related to benefitting New Martinsville.
“The service they provide is a very valued service to this area,” said Electric Department Chairman David White. He suggested perhaps the city committee over city property have a meeting with the WCCC. While Goddard indicated they would do that, when the vote came the motion stood as having an effective date of Sept. 1, before the next regularly scheduled council meeting on Sept. 6.
“In an effort to maintain a balanced budget we will ask for rent of $1,000 per month,” said Goddard.
The figure of $1,000 was based on heating/cooling costs, said Councilman Chris Bachman. When examining figures for past two years, the cost was about $12,000 per year for heating and cooling alone. The city pays all of the utilities and provides maintenance for the property. They also maintain insurance on the building.
Riggenbach pointed out that the WCCC is only using the first floor of the building and there is a second floor that is being used. “They’ve been paying rent for years,” said Recorder Bonnie Shannon of one group that has used a room on the second floor for 18 years.
“The gas bill has just been unbelievable,” said Shannon
“There are probably a lot of our executive committee members that aren’t aware of the high utility bills,” said Riggenbach.
To offer some relief, Shannon announced at the meeting that the city recently received a $15,500 stimulus grant through Belomar that will pay for a new heating and air conditioning system for the building. That money was originally going to be for the current city building’s heating and cooling needs, but they discovered the grant had to be for a new project and that one had already proceeded too far to qualify. The current city building will receive a $25,000 Community Partnership Grant for its HVAC project.
A newer system would hopefully lead to lower utility costs, which council said was their only goal of recuperating with the rent, implying rent would be lowered if costs were reduced.
In other matters, Parks and Recreation Director Bev Gibb said she believes the last day of full operation for Lewis Wetzel Pool will be Aug. 22. They may be able to keep it open on weekends, but it’s not looking likely because the workers must return to college and high school activities.
However, she said people may want to take advantage of a free swim at the pool this Friday, sponsored by Anderson Orthodontics. The free admission will be in effect all day, from noon to 7 p.m.
While the pool will be closing, she said the miniature golf at Bruce Park will stay open through October, only on weekends after mid-September. Also, the paddle boats at Lewis Wetzel Park will begin a weekend-only schedule after Aug. 22 through mid-September or the beginning of October.
Building Inspector Joe Hanna once again brought up the issue of four large decorative trees growing in the sidewalk on Main Street near West Virginia Northern Community College. He says they are pushing up concrete and asked council to consider a plan of action. “They probably need to be taken out,” said Hanna.
Water Department Director Pat Durant reported that they have about 60 more fire hydrants in the city to rate. They are doing testing to determine the pressure at each fire hydrant, then the device is marked by a large colored ring. “It lets the fire department know the pressure at a particular fire hydrant,” explained Durant of the color-coded rings that local residents have been noticing.
Tom Tharp gave a report for Street Commissioner Gary Willey. He said the department has been rebuilding some catch basins and filling potholes all over town. Also, the new reconditioned street sweeper should arrive in New Martinsville later this month.
They hoped to begin paving some streets, as previously announced, on Tuesday, but the schedule depends upon when the asphalt plant provides the city with the paving material.
“We are not the first priority,” explained Councilman Steve Pallisco. “Sometimes we have to wait for the asphalt.”
Steve Hoagland, the city’s animal control officer, said things had been fairly quiet for him during the month.
“This young man is so good. It seems like when I call him, he’s there in five or 10 minutes,” said Mayor Lucille Blum. She receives significantly fewer calls now that he is on the job.
However, on Monday they were trying to address a situation where he said many animals were left unattended in a locked garage apartment.
He described the situation as “four dogs and probably about 1,000 cats. That’s why they keep jumping out the windows,” said Hoagland.
The renter could not be located and the owner did not have keys to the locks installed by the renter. City Judge Larry Couch said he would sign a warrant after the meeting so the situation could be alleviated.