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Council Remembers Fonner, Addresses Issues

By Staff | Oct 23, 2013

The Oct. 7 meeting of New Martinsville City Council began with a moment of silence for longtime water and sewer board member, Fred Fonner.

He had recently passed away, on Oct. 2, at the age of 88. He was also part of the Lincoln Theater restoration and had helped with the lighting on many productions there.

“He was into everything,” said Mayor Keith Nelsen. “We’ll miss him.”

Also a longtime city servant and volunteer, Lucille Blum, spoke to council about her concern for the appearance of New Martinsville. The former mayor said, “You’ve heard me talk about this before, it’s not new, but I have serious concerns about property concerns. It’s not getting any better. It’s getting worse.”

She gave council members a list of specific properties that need improvement, but understandably wouldn’t divulge them in public.

“There is no excuse for it. There are things that can be done to make it better,” she said of one specific property. She particularly talked about problems on Maple Avenue and Clark Street. These are areas that have beautiful historic homes, but many are not being well maintained.

“I’m not talking about punishing people. I’m talking about getting things done when people have the ability to get things done,” said Blum. “I want New Martinsville to be called The Parlor City again, even if it has slip covers on it.”

“There’s only so much you can do at a time,” said Mayor Keith Nelsen.

“I know that your hands are tied to a certain extent,” said Blum.

City Judge Larry Couch said three properties were brought before him last month for citations. Prior to coming up on the docket, two were sold. The other was given a period for immediate improvement. Couch said that measure was taken as a way to not fine them, so they could use their money to make improvements.

Nelsen noted that it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money to make some improvements.

Councilman Steve Pallisco thanked the fire department and every city employee that helped with the regatta. “I can’t think the city employees enough,” he said. “Everything that I asked them to do, they didn’t have a problem with doing it.”

He also offered his appreciation to all the people who kept the boaters and their teams in their homes. “We obviously need another hotel in this town,” said Pallisco. Had at least over 30 people who took people in.

He further thanked the members of the committee and the dozens of volunteers. “Without the donations, this could never have happened,” said Pallisco. “We had to raise tens of thousands of dollars to do this.”

The New Martinsville Records Challenge and Regatta held Sept. 28 and 29 had over 60 boats participate.

Blum, during her time speaking to council, had said she loved the regatta this year. “It was an outstanding event,” she said as she thanked the committee.

Chuck Stora, manager of the Hannibal Hydroelectric Plant, said September was their outage month. Unfortunately it didn’t go so well. He specifically cited eight feet of debris that caused problems. They used a bucket to get as much as they could. “It took a long time to get that,” noted Stora.

The crew worked on two wicket gates and had the rotor sandblasted and painted. “Hopefully it will stay on there for 15-20 years,” said Stora. They also changed out all the cooling water piping in the generator; had it refabricated with 3/15-inch stainless steel. “So we ought to be good for at least 50 years,” said Stora.

Despite that additional work and some difficulties, he said the plant’s generation still beat projection by 20 percent for September and they are currently 26.5 percent over for the year. “It’s been a great year,” said Stora.

Also, council approved a resolution to authorize the application and contract for West Virginia Governor’s Community Participation program funds in the amount of $5,000 for street paving and improvements.

Also, they agreed to advertise the position of a laborer for the street department.