Easton resigns from council
Kenny Easton has resigned from the Town of Bath Council. In a letter to Mayor Susan Webster received November 9, Easton said he could no longer serve on council because he is moving out of town.
Easton has served on council since his election in 2005 and was reelected in June to a second term. Previously, at the November 6 council meeting, Easton said that he had retired from his job with the Morgan County Commission.
Webster announced Easton's resignation at the Tuesday, November 20 council meeting. Easton's last day as a councilman is November 30.
Webster read a letter from former council member and President of the Town of Bath Cemetery Management and Maintenance Corporation, Irene Hedrick, in which she stated her desire to serve again on council.
"She came on council in 2003, and she has worked diligently with the Cemetery Commission. Her devotion and dedication in real work and time spent working with this community is nothing short of amazing," Webster said.
Council voted to appoint Hedrick to the seat vacated by Easton. Hedrick will assume her council duties on December 1.
The position of Town Recorder, vacated when
Garnet Marsh resigned in September, is not filled. Before someone is appointed to that position, council will pass an ordinance restoring voting power to the Town Recorder.
Ordinance 2007-09 had its first reading by council
and reverses Ordinance 2005-06 which took away the
vote from the recorder.
The second reading and
passage of the ordinance will occur at the December 4 meeting.
Council may then assign the position to a member of council or appoint a new person to the position of Town Recorder. The Town Recorder is paid $100 a month.
If council appoints a current member to the recorder position, that council seat will be vacant. Council has the option of appointing, or not appointing a new council member. Council is not required to fill an empty seat.
Sally Marshall, chair of
the Streetscape Committee, reported to council that the committee has chosen
engineering firm Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT) of Baltimore,
Maryland as the design
consultant for the Streetscape project.
Marshall said 10 qualified firms responded to the Request for Proposal sent out last month.
A selection subcommittee of Larry Lower, Bob Marggraf, Rebecca MacLeod and Diane Peterson interviewed all the responders and narrowed the field down to three companies. Those companies made presentations to the selection committee earlier this month.
The next step is to negotiate a contract with JMT. Marshall proposed a tentative date of December 5 to have the office of Attorney Richard Gay review the contract and a date of December 10 for the contract to be signed by Mayor Webster.
JMT will produce a design for three blocks of Wilkes Street between Fairfax Street and Route 9 west and the connecting blocks of Congress and Independence streets. Construction on Congress and Independence streets is contingent on available funds after Wilkes Street construction.
The current Streetscape grant is $198,000. Construction could start in early spring or summer.
Webster recognized the committee for their long hours of work on the project.
Marshall informed council the Streetscape Committee will file a letter of intent to apply for a $1 million dollar Streetscape grant in 2008. If that grant is approved, the town will have to come up with matching funds of 20%.
Marshall said the Streetscape Committee will be looking at partnerships, sponsorships and other funding strategies.
Marshall also said that the committee plans to request a $50,000 grant for a parking study from the Governor's Community Partnership Program. She said the application will be submitted in the next two months.
Water pump problems
Webster reported the town's two main water pumps failed on November 9. A spare pump that was installed as a replacement also failed.
A temporary gasoline operated pump was installed until one of the failed pumps was fixed and replaced. Councilman Scott Merki said the repaired pump was reinstalled on November 19.
During the time the temporary pump was operating, it had to be watched 24 hours a day.
Webster commended Fire Chief J. J. Steiner and the Berkeley Springs Fire Department for their help manning the pump. She also commended the work of Chief Water Operator Terry Largent and his staff for all the work and overtime they put in during the crisis.
Water service was not interrupted and water quality not affected, Webster said. It will take another two weeks to get the other pumps repaired and back in place.
Webster said the town has asked Thrasher Engineering to look at modifications to the water plant that might take some of the strain off the pumps.
Councilman David Crosby said he was in favor of a $9 per thousand gallons of water flat rate for water customers. He is also in favor of keeping the minimum charge for service.
A $9 rate would be a decrease for small customers and a substantial increase for big water consumers.
Webster said she had received copies of tariff sheets from Geert Bakker of the Public Service Commission outlining the billing structure used by Charles Town, Shepherdstown and Wardensville. Webster said council will review how other cities structure their rates before making any changes to the town's water rates.
Webster said after the current billing cycle, council will determine if the moratorium on new water taps will be lifted. There are about 400 requests for new taps on a waiting list.
Some of the future water issues that face the town are the need to purchase a new $24,000 water pump, expansion of the water plant to allow more capacity, installation of another water storage tank and a new water line replacement project for areas outside of town.
Town Clerk Margie Allgyer informed council the state has begun dispersing table games revenue to municipalities. She said not to get too excited. This month the town received $57.
Christmas lights and lights for the Christmas tree in the square will begin to go up Tuesday, November 27, Allgyer said. Before the lights along the street can be turned on, some power issues need to be resolved.
Allgyer said she and Judge Daniel Staggers attended a training session for municipal judges last week, and that she was elected to the board of the West Virginia Municipal Judges Association.
Code book and ordinances
Councilwoman Nancy Harvey reported the town had received the draft of the new town code book from Municipal Code Corporation (Municode) of Florida.
The code book will be available for review at Town Hall for the next three weeks. Citizens are encouraged to examine the book and make comments and suggestions.
The final draft of the book is due back to Municode by February.
Council passed the first reading of Ordinance 2007-10 which changes the times of Bath Town Council meetings from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p. m. The council meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The ordinance won't go into effect until after the second reading and vote on December 4.
Police Chief Jim Minton said parking meters would be bagged to allow free parking December 17 – December 25.
Minton warned that new, higher parking fines go into effect on Monday, November 26. The new fees raise meter violations from $3 to $8 and substantially increase fines for other parking violations.
Council formally approved the police reserve officer program.
Minton reported the Morgan County Commission was awarded a Homeland Security grant to upgrade police and emergency communications. New radios and base stations will eventually be installed at Berkeley Springs Police Department, Paw Paw Police Department and Morgan County Sheriff's office.
Harvey met with consultant David Taylor to talk about the Historic District nomination for the Town of Bath. The next step in the process is for Taylor to author a Power Point presentation using information collected from the recently completed historic survey.
Harvey said Taylor would then present the town's case for the nomination before the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office. She expects the work on the presentation to be completed by March 31, 2008.
Webster said the survey of Greenway Cemetery by Berkeley Land Surveys is progressing and should be finished sometime in December.
Once the mayor has the survey in hand, she will write a letter to the state Division of Highways to request the annexation of a short portion of Johnson's Mill Road to connect the town to the cemetery. This is called "shoestring" annexation.
According to Webster, the DOH cannot object to the request because the DOH is not a stakeholder.
Once the DOH approves the request, the legal process of annexing the cemetery can continue.