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Pine Grove Addresses Vandalism Issues

By Staff | Jul 20, 2016

At its July 12 monthly meeting, Pine Grove Town Council discussed issues with its garbage truck, including recent vandalism. Town Recorder Rhonda Spencer proceeded over part of the meeting, as council had been advised that Mayor Roy Justice would be arriving late, due to prior engagements.

Council was notified that the garbage truck would not function that previous day. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that three wires on the garbage truck had been cut. The sheriff’s office was notified, and a report was filed.

Town Recorder Rhonda Spencer reported that four or five weeks ago, batteries for the town’s backhoe had been stolen as well.

Deputy Randy Adams, of the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office, was present at the town council meeting, along with Deputy Eric Daugherty. Adams was asked what council should consider to deter further illegal activities. Adams suggested cameras.

Councilmember Barbara King requested extra patrol in the area during nighttime hours.

Related to garbage truck issues, council agreed to allow Repairman John Haught to replace the transmission.

The town had two repair estimates, including Haught’s. However, Haught’s was the least expensive. Furthermore, he would return the truck back to the town within a few days.

The expenditure will cost approximately $3,500.

In another matter, Spencer said she had been in touch with the Public Service Commission, who had notified her that the town is “in no way, shape or form, up with the rates that they have for us for our sewage and water.”

Spencer said in 2011, council had decided to raise the rates. However, the PSC had not received the paperwork for the rate changes.

The town had also froze the rates to what they are currently.

Pine Grove’s attorney, Gary Rymer, noted that he had sent all appropriate letters and paperwork to the PSC, regarding the rate change.

Spencer said the PSC had advised that the town either raise the rates, or they would be fined.

Rymer mentioned that the town had passed a five-year incremental increase. He said at the end of the second year, the town had decided not to implement the third year, delaying the ordinance. He said the next year, the town had passed another resolution for further delay.

It was determined that Rymer would write an ordinance for the increase. He said the ordinance will have to be read at two meetings, and a public hearing will have to be held prior to the second meeting. He said the rate change will have to be published in a newspaper as well. The rate change will then be submitted to the public service commission.

Council voted that Rymer draft an ordinance, noting that otherwise they would be fined by the PSC.

In other town matters, Spencer notified council that MarkWest has been helping the town with several endeavors after the heat transfer oil spill that occurred at MarkWest Mobley plant on Feb. 20.

Approximately 3,000 gallons of the oil had been spilled; though it did reach the inlet of Pine Grove’s fresh water treatment facility, the oil was contained within the facility and did not enter the public drinking water.

At Monday night’s meeting, Recorder Spencer said MarkWest had performed several tasks for the town, including providing new black-top at the Byrd Center. The company provided a facelift to the outside of the building by installing new letters on the area that reads “Robert C. Byrd Center.” Spencer noted that her office has also been renovated, and MarkWest is purchasing a handicap-accessible swing for the park.

The recorder said she is in the process of writing a “thank you” letter to the company. She said if any citizen would like to add to the letter, or have a separate letter, she would add it to the town’s submission.

Spencer said MarkWest is buying a new pump for the water plant, as well as installing new doors and garage doors at the plant.

Spencer said the company has done a wonderful job since the spill. “There wasn’t anything I asked, or that they asked of me, that we didn’t help one another get through.

“If anyone wants to add to the thank you, they are more than welcome,” she said.

Town council also discussed Fourth of July activities for the town’s 2017 celebration.

Spencer said the town had had issues with the inflatable toys that were expected at its 2016 celebration.

Council member Eva Adams inquired as to whether the Fourth of July festivities pertain to the Town of Pine Grove or to the park committee. Spencer responded that they pertained to the town.

Adams inquired as to whether or not any of the Town of Pine Grove worked at the July 3 celebration.

Spencer noted that she, herself, had checked in at the Byrd Center several times that day.

Council member King said she had wanted to volunteer but ended up having to cancel due to other matters.

Adams suggested that everyone be involved in next year’s celebration. She said she knew what the town had done during previous celebrations and “we always had a big turnout.”

Spencer agreed and noted that the town’s plans for the 2016 celebration were “more or less all of a sudden.”

Council discussed having a horseshoe pitch at future celebrations, along with materials for corn hole.

In another matter, resident Stacy Judge approached council with several concerns.

Judge noted that the sidewalks have weeds and gravel all over them.

Spencer said the town is waiting for more weed killer to be delivered and would continue taking care of the rest of the sidewalks.

Judge also inquired as to why her garbage has not been picked up. Spencer said the town’s workers had been advised not to pick up garbage if it wasn’t bagged properly.

Judge complained that the town’s workers are not working on different, required tasks. She also complained that the weedeating and mowing is not being taken care of.

Also, Rymer advised that 80 percent of the necessary easements, for the town’s water and sewer upgrades, have not been completed.

Rymer said the town needs to obtain 25 more right-of-ways to be able to continue with the project.

Rymer said the state has granted 100 percent of the funding for the project. However, the state has warned if the easements are not granted then they will use the funding for flood cleanup in the southern part of the state.

“We are going to lose $1.5 million,” Rymer warned.

Council decided to hang a list of the names on the door to the Byrd Center and would work to contact some of those who still needed to agree to the easements.