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Council Moves On Fremont Gas Plant

By Staff | Jun 1, 2011

At the New Martinsville City Council meeting held May 2 Dave White, chairman of the New Martinsville Electric Department, reported that he recently met with Eric Lloyd in an interest to continue with their program to free themselves from the high-energy market and gain control over energy supply needs through purchasing a portion of the Fremont Gas Plant Project.

He explained that in looking at the potential output, the cost of subscribing to a portion of the plant’s output is significantly lower than the market price, and will get the city out of the volatile energy market. With that in mind it was his recommendation to the council to move forward with that project. The council granted White’s request and will move forward with the first reading of the ordinance. In the 35-year contract to begin in 2012, White says it looks to be significant savings across the board.

White also presented news to the council that for their second qualification cycle, the Electric Department has met its RP3 certification from the American Public Power Association. As they did two years ago, they’ve reached the highest standard of public power reliability. White noted it’s vert difficult to reach such qualification which requires an organization to receive an 80 percent or better in five categories. “We were the first municipal utility to earn it two years ago,” White said as he went on to note all those who help to gain that high level of achievement. White stated his crew was the department’s backbone. “I’m happy to be their supervisor. They are quality people,” White said.   

To this Mayor Lucille Blum noted that White was “a good leader, and one of the reasons why we win these awards.”

Lastly, regarding the budget, the electric department is in line with their projections, and power outages have been site-specific and there’s been minimal storm-related damages.

In another matter, Building Inspector Joe Hanna reported he is working on a revision to the ordinance regarding the placement of RVs on vacant lots in town. “The intent of the code is for the placement of recreational vehicles, not a permanent residence,” Hanna stated. “I don’t think our current ordinance actually defines that well enough. I’d like to make a revision so it’s clear on what you can and can’t do with RVs,” he added. Mayor Blum stated they would schedule a meeting with the ordinance commission on the matter, agreeing the ordinance is “something we need to investigate” and stressing the importance of keeping property values in the community.

Dave White added his support of the revision, pointing out that “when you get into the definition of an RV, what we’re finding is that people want to let RVs be commercial or residential facilities. The intent of the code is recreational only.”

In other matters, Mayor Blum announced the city has a new animal control person in place, saying the previous animal control officer is now working in another community. The council thanked the former officer for a job well done, and Blum stressed that if anyone has a need for animal control, to get in touch with the City or the New Martinsville Police Department. “We’ll deal with the situation,” she affirmed. It was also noted the new animal control officer is licensed and experienced.

Holly Grandstaff noted cleanup has been implemented in different areas of the city, and that paving is planned once the rain settles. Mayor Blum encouraged the public to, as a neighborhood, help get things cleaned up. “Offer services yourself, or call me,” she said. “Don’t think we’re not paying attention. There’s a process we have to go through.”

Councilman Steve Pallisco announced the Riverfront Development and Fire Department want to develop a park with access to downtown New Martinsville complete with a picnic spot and concert area.

Fire Chief Larry Couch also noted that during the period of high water, the city lost two to three feet of riverbank. “It’s a bad thing,” noted Pallisco. “But it might be of help to us now,” referring to the downtown project.

And regarding an ongoing matter, Pallisco stated he felt there was a misunderstanding about the council’s financial support of the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce. He stressed that the council is in total support of the chamber and that they have only asked the chamber to pay utilities. “We’ve got to find ways–instead of giving things away– to find money,” he said, adding that the chamber will continue to operate rent-free.

Beverly Gibb, director of the New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Commission, thanked all who helped with the Easter Egg Hunt. She noted that this was the first time the commission moved the hunt to Bruce Park and stated about 300 children were in attendance despite the rain. She particularly thanked Bayer Federal Employee Community Credit Union and all of the volunteers who helped to make the event a success.

  And Water Department Director Pat Durant stated his department is looking into replacing sewers uptown at the south end of Northgate, where several problems have been reported.

  Also during the meeting Rick Suter appeared, stating he is still signing up volunteers for the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon to be held Labor Day weekend. The local organizers have until Aug. 19 to get everything set up for a local call bank. There will be eight shifts this year and he would like to see more citizens help.

  Lastly, Rae-Ellen Stewart discussed a poignant project the Lutheran and New Martinsville United Methodist churches are heading up in the hopes of properly honoring servicemen who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. She explained that for three weeks in August, approximately 6,000 American flags will be set up along state Route 2 by the two churches as part of a traveling flags movement started Oct. 23, 2005 at a church in Connecticut. New Martinsville will be the 49th location to join the prayer chain by hosting the display that has traveled from Maine to California. Each flag will represent one American casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the project is free, they are accepting donations which will go to Connecticut to help pay for new flags.

Those organizing this special event have scheduled a dedication service on Aug. 13 at the NMUMC. “We’re working really heard to have a display that’s worthy of the servicemen,” Stewart said.

More details on that event to come.