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City Must Update Its Flood Ordinance

By Staff | Nov 12, 2008
New Martinsville and other governmental agencies need to update their flood plain ordinances within six months to meet National Flood Insurance Program guidelines.

That was the message City Building Inspector Joe Hanna told council at the Nov. 3 meeting. He had attended a Federal Emergency Management Agency meeting where they went over a plan to update governmental flood plain management ordinances. If such an ordinance is not revised to meet new specifications within six months, properties within the municipality may not be insured by the NFIP.

Hanna received a sample ordinance and is going over it, striking out parts of the large, comprehensive document that do not apply to New Martinsville. He said Tim Keaton, a NFIP coordinator for West Virginia, would be happy to go over the ordinance with the council.

Since this involves changes that need to be made by all municipalities in the county, as well as the county commission, council decided to set a time, perhaps in the first week of December, when Keaton can meet with any interested governmental representatives.

Hanna said he would like the city to have a draft prepared before that meeting. They tentatively set a special council meeting for Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. that will address that issue.

He added, “We were pretty highly praised for our department. They’re pretty happy with New Martinsville.”

In an ongoing matter, council unanimously passed a motion to paint yellow lines on the streets in the downtown area to denote where parking places start and stop, a measure that was passed earlier this year but never implemented.

However, this recent motion included parking lines in a new area, on the east side of Martin Avenue from Washington to Jefferson Streets. The one-way street area is wide enough for parking and passing vehicles.

The lines will also be put on Main St. from North St. to Harlan Dr., on Jefferson St. from the Ohio River to Martin Ave., and on Washington St. from the Ohio River to Maple Ave.

“It should gain us considerable parking spaces,” said Councilman Joel Potts Jr. The parking space allocations will be a minimum of 20 feet in length.

Street Commissioner Gary Lemon received a round of applause at the Nov. 3 meeting as it will be his last regular meeting before retiring. He is being succeeded by Gary Wiley.

Lemon reminded the town that the street department will be gathering leaves. They can be either bagged or left loose, the preferred method. It is best to keep them on the edge of the property and not put the leaves into the street or over storm sewers. He noted that the city’s suction hose can reach fairly far and if left piled at the edge of the property, they will collect the leaves.

Fire Chief Larry Couch noted that the department has fought three structure fires in the past month caused by unattended cooking, resulting in more than $120,000 damages.

He cautioned people to be careful when cooking, particularly when heating oil on a stovetop. “Use care when using these cooking oils,” he said. “They are flammable liquids.”

Residents are reminded to use proper cooking appliances for cooking oil, never leave the oil unattended, always have a solid non-flammable lid available to cover the pan in the event it catches fire, have a fire extinguisher in the home, a working smoke detector, and an exit plan in the event of a fire. “Do not wait to call the fire department,” said Couch. “Call immediately from a neighbor’s home or from outside on a cell phone.”

Council unanimously voted to advertise for bids for the refurbishment of a 1991 ambulance used by the New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service unit that provides supplemental service to the city and surrounding area. Couch explained that a new ambulance would cost $130,000-140,000, but the current vehicle can be refurbished for about half that price. “It will be like new,” promised Couch.

The work will be paid for through the NMVFD’s budget.

Couch, also the city’s police judge, brought a concern about defendants failing to appear in city court. He said they don’t seem to take the city court as seriously as magistrate or circuit court.

“It is a court of law. They are expected to appear when they are summoned to appear,” said Couch.

He asked council to consider passing an ordinance that would impose a penalty for failure to appear. He put together a possible ordinance by using a similar one from Huntington. It calls for a fine of up to $500 or jail sentence of up to five days.

“I think it would give us a little bit more backing,” added Couch.

City Attorney Carolyn Flannery will be asked to review the document and they will try to have a first reading on the new ordinance at a special meeting Nov. 17.

Sitting in at the council meeting for Police Chief Tim Cecil, Patrolman Don Larsen let council know that the department has an ongoing drug investigation. He was unable to explain the case since it is ongoing.

However, Mayor Blum said, “I’m very pleased with the work that our police force is doing with regard to the adolescent drug problem. It’s a very serious problem.”

She invited anyone interested in fighting this epidemic to attend meetings of the Citizens Against Prescription Drug Abuse that are held on Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the city building. They are open to the public.

Councilman Steve Pallisco gave an update for the Riverfront Development group. He said the West Virginia University Historical Department came to New Martinsville to evaluate the possibility of using history as an interest factor for the area.

“We want to focus in on the history of Wetzel County,” said Pallisco. “These folks seemed real excited about doing this study for us.”

Also, Congressman Alan Mollohan wants to meet with Riverfront Development and the WVU group.

Riverfront Development has received their 501(c)3 non-profit status. “That’s another step forward for Riverfront,” declared Pallisco.

Rick Suter appeared before council concerning his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He is asking people in New Martinsville and the surrounding area to hold fund raisers for MDA, Jerry’s Kids, after Jan. 2.

Also, he would like to have a call bank in New Martinsville again during the Labor Day telethon so local residents would not need to make a long distance telephone call to pledge support. If anyone is interested in working on answering calls, contact Suter or Blum.