Mayor Casteel Sworn In To Office At Council Meeting
The Paden City Common Council convened for a regular meeting on Monday, August 3 to discuss matters such as the water project, street issues, the Labor Day parade, the Marble Festival, and appointing an individual to the third ward council seat.
The first action taken at the meeting was to swear in the new mayor and council member. Mayor Clyde Hochstrasser did the honors, passing the title of mayor to former councilman Rick Casteel, and welcoming Bob Kendle to the council. Hochstrasser then stepped aside from his position, and Mayor Casteel took the reins of the meeting.
Following the approval of the minutes from the July 6 regular council meeting, Casteel issued his mayor comment.
Mayor Casteel thanked all in attendance for attending the meeting, and explained that while it’s his “first go at this type of venture” he’s going to do the best he can to move Paden City forward in the proper direction. Casteel acknowledged that the city faces many issues and expressed his desire to see them resolved.
Following this, the new mayor invited any concerned citizens to speak to council.
Mrs. Young approached council first, offering her gratitude and appreciation to the exiting mayor as well as the council and anyone else involved in taking care of the city’s water situation. She explained that she appreciated that they worked fast, and that it wasn’t swept under the rug like it had been for years.
Mayor Casteel acknowledged this, stating that the former mayor and council had worked hard on this and the city presently has clean drinking water. However, phase two of the project – which includes street maintenance as well – would begin in the near future.
Mrs. Young went on to address her concern, saying that the city had started a project over two years ago behind her home, leaving her back yard with a problem. She asked council if there was any way to resolve the issue.
Casteel told her he was aware of the situation and said that the council would revisit it. He explained there are several issues that need addressed at this time, and that the streets were their main concern. Casteel said that the council will need to find a solution and move forward. Because he wasn’t sure where they were presently at with that, he told Mrs. Young that he wouldn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.
Mrs. Young accepted this, saying that she simply wanted them to revisit the issue and find a solution in the future.
Councilman JP Springer added to this, saying he would like for Mrs. Young’s problem to be solved in addition to another issue down the street. Springer explained that the foundation around the grates in this area need fixed.
Casteel again reiterated that they will reassess all of the situations and find the most pressing issues as they move forward.
Another citizen – Dan Billiter – was present at the meeting to address the many potholes on the north end of town, asking for the matter to be addressed as well. Billiter then added that the park needs a restroom, explaining that the park would be used more if they had a decent restroom.
Also approaching council was Susan Wade. At the last meeting, Wade got approval to move forward with the Paden City Labor Day Celebration. However, in the days following that meeting, Governor Jim Justice called for the cancellations for all fairs and festivals.
Wade told council that they’d still like to hold a parade. Due to COVID-19, the parade would have to be motorcade only; marching bands would have to be excluded and no candy could be thrown. Wade said they don’t want to miss a year.
Council agreed to the parade, and discussion ensued about the donation the city made to the celebration. It was decided that, until the parade has passed, the event planners will hold onto the money to cover any undue expenses. The remaining money will be returnd to the city.
Following the Citizen’s Comments, a motion was made to approve all bills for payment. This motion was quickly carried.
The Water, Streets, and Maintenance Superintendent’s Report was given next. Although Josh Billiter, the Water, Streets, and Maintenance Superintendent, was not available for the first portion of the meeting, council still discussed matters involving this subject.
Springer began discussions, saying that although they will receive their dump truck by September 9, the lack of one currently has put them behind on street repairs. He suggested that council look into contracting out for paving. Springer noted that the company who paved the parking lots of Paden City High School did a good job and are local. However, Springer expressed that they will have to look at what streets will be affected by the water project, saying that it wouldn’t make sense to pave a street that will be torn up again in a few months.
Mayor Casteel conveyed his understanding of this subject, and reiterated that they will have to make certain streets a priority. He went on to mention a situation that had cropped up due to certain residents replacing water lines. While this was okay, he said, many of them hit the side of the road. Casteel said that when it storms, the water comes down and washes it out, causing more problems, not only for the city but also for the citizens. He also said this will cost homeowners and the city more money to replace parts of it.
Casteel said that the city needs to address these things immediately no matter the cost, explaining that they might actually save money in the long run.
The new mayor said that this issue as well as the problem with the manhole covers need addressed and fixed before it creates bigger problems.
On the matter of water, Casteel sought permission from council to sign the drawdowns for the water project. There were reportedly three drawdowns – one to finish up the water plant, and two for the large water project. A motion was made in favor of signing the documents, and the motion was carried.
It was also said that testing showed no detection of PCE or any other contaminants they are searching for.
Casteel then mentioned the Paden City Water Crisis Group, saying that the group has been very active, working with council, the community, the EPA, and other organizations. The group reportedly invited the EPA to come to the city to drill test sites throughout town to test for soil contamination.
In other business, the council began discussion on police matters. Mayor Casteel said to all in attendance that the police department was a “major issue.” Councilman Steve Kastigar addressed this matter, saying that the city has an issue with public safety. At this time, Paden City reportedly has two officers, with only one a certified patrolman. The other officer has been waiting to go into the academy, but due to COVID-19, it keeps getting delayed.
Kastigar said that in his opinion something needs done about salaries in order to keep patrolman working in Paden City. He told council that the officers are “woefully unpaid,” and as such he has spent time crunching numbers and looking into raising salaries.
Kastigar suggested to council that the chief’s pay be raised to $20 an hour, and certified patrolman pay be raised to $17. Kastigar said that, after looking at the budget, he believes that this is possible.
Mayor Casteel agreed that this matter was important, but asked that the council and the finance committee get together and crunch numbers. Council made plans to deliberate on this subject within the week.
While discussing Park and Pool matters, it was reported that the campground is now at full capacity, and is doing very well this year.
Under New Business, the Health Department was requesting to use the park as a test site for COVID-19. However, it was relayed that the lab had backed out so the request was no longer needed at this time.
Also appearing at the meeting with a request was Holly Morgan with the Wetzel County Convention and Visitor Bureau. Morgan explained to council that for the last 20 years, the Marble Festival was held in Sistersville. However, Jim King has reportedly retired from the event and passed it on to the Wetzel County CVB.
Morgan told council that it was their belief that it would be best to hold the event at the Paden City Park as Paden City is where Marble King originated.
The event wouldn’t be held until September of 2021, but the CVB was looking for permission to move forward with the project.
Mayor Casteel told her that while he thinks it’s a great idea, the CVB needed to first obtain permission from the Park and Pool board.
Following this, a motion was made and quickly carried in favor of setting the Fall Burning Season beginning on September 15 and lasting until October 15, weather permitting.
Another item on the agenda was to give the police department permission to purchase a gun cabinet. However, since former mayor Clyde Hochstrasser was the only one with knowledge on this issue, the matter was tabled until Casteel could look into it.
In other business, discussion then ensued on appointing an individual to the empty third ward council seat. Two individuals had expressed their interest in this position: Clyde Hochstrasser and D. Scott Dalrymple.
It was Casteel’s original belief that he could appoint an individual to fill the seat, and he expressed his interest in appointing Dalrymple. He assured council that this would not be a conflict of interest. Although Dalrymple serves as a part-time patrolman, Casteel said he would not be involved in any police department matters.
However, City Attorney Carolyn Flannery informed the new mayor that he can not appoint anyone; he could recommend, but the council ultimately has to vote on this matter.
After some debate and discussion, Mayor Casteel decided to table the matter.
Following this, the meeting was adjourned. Paden City Council will hold their next regular meeting on September 7 at 7 p.m.