Justice Calls Masks Crucial to Reducing Infections

 May 21, 2020

Masks are crucial to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Governor Jim Justice emphasized at yesterday’s press briefing.

He used the country of Japan as a comparison with the United States.

Japan has lost less than 800 people to coronavirus so far—that is, 800 cumulative coronavirus deaths.

The United States has lost an average of about 1,000 people a day since February 15. Our cumulative virus death toll is more than 93,000 people, as of May 21.

What’s the difference between the two countries?

Masks, Justice explained.

“In the nation of Japan… they’ve all got masks on when they’re outside,” he said. “They’re just trying to look out for themselves.”

Justice urged West Virginia to bring this lesson home to the Mountain State.

“West Virginia, please: wear your mask if you’re going to be out in a group of people,” he said. “Protect yourself and protect others. That’s all there is to it.”

A recent study found that, if 80 percent of people would wear masks, there would be almost no need for continued shutdowns: https://www.foxnews.com/science/coronavirus-infections-plunge-80-percent-wore-masks. (This study has not yet been peer reviewed.)

Note on comparing the U.S. and Japan: Japan’s population is 38 percent of the United State’s population. To make an apples to apples comparison, multiply Japan’s deaths by about 2.6. Correcting for population difference this way, Japan’s cumulative coronavirus death toll is the equivalent of about 2,500 deaths in the United States—still considerably less than the United States’s cumulative death toll of more than 93,000.

Governor’s Guidance for Week 4 Reopenings

The official “Week 4” phase of West Virginia’s statewide reopening plan starts Thursday, May 21 (with some categories of businesses allowed to open Monday, May 18).

Below is an excerpt from the governor’s West Virginia Strong: The Comeback web page showing the business categories that may reopen this week (with links to guidance documents showing safety precautions they should, and in some cases must, take):

Note for lodging facilities: The executive order requiring out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine will be lifted in Week 4. In accordance with this change, additional guidance documents are available for hotels, motels, condo hotels, rental properties, and cabins.

Reopening Guidance for Small Businesses, Restaurants, and Churches and Funeral Homes

April 29, 2020

As you have probably heard, this week Governor Justice released a plan for the phased reopening of certain West Virginia businesses. You can read that plan here.

Per the governor, if the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results (available at Coronavirus.wv.gov) remains below 3 percent through the evening of Wednesday, April 29, “Week 2” of the governor’s reopening plan will commence Monday, May 4. The commencement of Week 2 (and, presumably, each subsequent phase of the reopening plan) will be announced by executive order from the governor’s office. (more…)

Elkins Mayor Proclaims April Donate Life Month in City

Elkins, W. Va., April 14, 2020: This week, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month in Elkins. National Donate Life Month honors registered organ donors, donor families, and living donors, as well the researchers, innovators, champions, national partners, and medical professionals who work tirelessly to save and heal lives through transplantation. (more…)

City Hall News: April 6-10, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., April 4, 2020: Council’s Finance Committee kicks off the week with a meeting Monday at 10 a.m. Items on the agenda include consideration of next year’s police cruiser fleet contract; a presentation by Woodlands Development Group & Community Lenders on a proposed bridge-loan program for small businesses impacted by coronavirus closures; and the PEIA plan premium. The committee will also discuss proposed FY 2020 budget adjustments. (more…)

Elkins Annual Audit Returns Eighth Unmodified Opinion in a Row

City Has Received “Clean” Audit Opinions Every Year Since 2012

Elkins W. Va., March 26, 2020: At tonight’s council meeting, Elkins Treasurer Tracy Judy reported that the city’s annual audit resulted in an unmodified opinion. State law requires West Virginia cities to undergo annual audits and publish the results. This audit, of the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019, was performed by accountants working for BHM CPA Group, an Ohio-based public accounting firm with offices in Huntington, West Virginia.

The purpose of a municipal audit is to systematically examine the sources and uses of public funds. Auditors evaluate the accuracy of financial records, the effectiveness of systems protecting against fraud and theft, the nature of accounting methods and processes in use at the city, and other aspects of compliance with state law and government accounting standards.

“An audit examines our financial records to confirm they are accurate,” said Judy. “The auditors review our transactions, financial statements, grants, bank statements, and other records for all city funds for the given fiscal year. “

The unmodified opinion the city received is the best result an audit can return. Sometimes also referred to as an “unqualified” or “clean” opinion, an unmodified opinion indicates that auditors have found no misrepresentations of fact or failures to follow appropriate accounting standards. Elkins has received unmodified opinions in each of its annual audits since the fiscal year ending in 2012.

The audit process begins each summer with a letter from the state auditor authorizing cities to begin the process of procuring an audit firm. The city’s Audit Committee then solicits and evaluates proposals from CPA firms interested in providing this service. The evaluation process uses a score sheet published by the state auditor to assign points to the firms that submit proposals. The firm with the highest score is then selected to perform the city’s audit.

“Receiving an unmodified opinion is a good confirmation of our daily practices and confirms to the city and its citizens that those practices are valid,” says Judy. “A good audit opinion is also important when the city is seeking loans or other financing, because lenders use our annual audits to assess risk and calculate interest rates.”

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City Hall News: March 16-20, 2020

Elkins W. Va., March 14, 2020: Monday sees the regular meeting of the Elkins Sanitary Board at 3:15 p.m. The sanitary board oversees the city’s wastewater (i.e., sewage) collection system and treatment plant. At this week’s meeting, the board will hear an update on the upcoming Phase II Sewer Project and review invoices and financial statements. The Phase II Sewer Project is the final component of a 2012 consent decree between Elkins and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, requiring the city to install separate stormwater lines in certain parts of the city to reduce sewage overflows to the river during heavy rain events.

Administrative officers and council’s Finance Committee continue work on the budget for fiscal year 2021 this week. After administrative officers finetune their requests and recommendations Monday, the committee meets in special session on Tuesday at 9 a.m. for further budget discussions.

The Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Darden House (next door to city hall). Council’s Municipal Properties Committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Later that same day, at 5 p.m., the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission meets at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

The agenda for Thursday’s council meeting will not be finalized until Tuesday, when—in addition to being posted in the city hall lobby and in the kiosk on Davis Avenue—it will also be uploaded to the city website. Agenda items submitted so far include a request from the fire department for permission to apply for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from FEMA (to fund new firefighter positions) and the proposed reappointment of the city attorney.

All council and committee meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at city hall (401 Davis Avenue). More information: www.cityofelkinswv.com.

How Are Elkins Sales Tax Revenues Being Spent?

Ever wonder how the city’s sales tax revenues are being spent? It’s an important question. Since the imposition of the tax in 2018, the city has collected about $1.6 million. Although we are only partway through the second year of the tax’s existence, it seems as though we can count on annual revenues of about $1 million. That’s a lot of money, with the potential to accomplish a great deal for Elkins.  (more…)

Street Vendor Ordinance now in place

Elkins City Council unanimously passed an ordinance during Thursday’s Elkins City Council meeting that will allow for street vendors within city limits.

According to City of Elkins Ordinance 264, street vendors – any person except itinerant vendors, who engages in or conducts, either as principal or agent, a business selling goods, wares, merchandise, food, confectionary or drink upon any street, sidewalk, or public park, including food trucks, will be permitted.

However, there are exceptions: vendors may only conduct business between six a.m. and 11 p.m.; no vendors may block pedestrian passageways; vendors must remove merchandise at the end of the sales day; no vendor set-up may consume more than three feet in width and eight feet in depth or more than two parking spaces; and no street vending is permitted on Davis Avenue between Second and Fifth Streets.

There are three classifications of vendors: Class A includes all non-food items, such as clothing, arts, crafts, flowers and miscellaneous items that are not food products; Class B covers all food products that do not require cooking, such as whole fruits, vegetables, and non-perishable food items that are pre-packaged by the manufacturer; and Class C is all food products that require cooking, heating, or a health permit. Vendors may also be required to meet additional requirements, depending upon their classification and location.

“It became apparent over the past few years that the food truck and street vendor industry had reached Elkins. I was receiving an increasing amount of inquiries about how and where vendors could operate, and in reviewing our City Code found it didn’t effectively address these questions,” Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton said.  “The Rules and Ordinances Committee, with the help of the City Attorney, Administrative Officers and local vendors, developed an ordinance they feel will both protect and encourage this growing entrepreneurial enterprise.”

Applications, as well as all the rules and regulations, are available at Elkins City Hall, 401 Davis Ave., and on the City’s website.

Adopt-A-Tree

CITY OF ELKINS TREE BOARD ANNOUNCES ADOPT-A-TREE PROGRAM

Date: August 22, 2019

Contact: Marilynn Cuonzo, Chair, Elkins Tree Board mcuonzo@cityofelkinswv.com

ELKINS-A new program that promotes planting trees throughout the city is being initiated by the Elkins Tree Board this fall. An Adopt-A-Tree program will provide a free tree to two selected homeowners in each of the city’s five wards. Application deadline for residents is Friday, September 13.

Members of the Elkins Tree Board are excited about the program and are inviting residents in the five wards interested in adopting a tree to fill out the application.. The selected tree owner commits to taking care of the tree for a minimum of three years, but board members will provide assistance and advice throughout the three-year period.

The trees must be planted in the front of the home and the type of tree will vary according to the site location. Preferred locations would be in a designated tree lawn, the grassy area located between the street and the sidewalk. The homeowner will be responsible for planting the tree within two weeks of receiving it.

The goal of the program is to continue to cool the streetscape, provide shade for those walking on city sidewalks and encourage everyone to plant more trees in town. The benefits of planting trees are numerous. Not only do trees improve the aesthetics of a neighborhood, but they also assist with the lowering water run-off, reducing air-conditioning costs and noise pollution. Most importantly, trees remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, which reduces the impact on climate change.

If the initial year is successful, the tree board will continue the Adopt-A-Tree program every year to reestablish trees lost due to age, storms and removal.

Applications are available online on the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page and the City of Elkins website, and at City Hall, 401 Davis Ave., Elkins. Deadline for submission is September 13, 2019, and the trees will be distributed no later than October 14. For further information, contact Marilynn Cuonzo, Chair, Elkins Tree Board, 304.636.5900 or mcuonzo@cityofelkinswv.com.

The Elkins Tree Board meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Darden House adjacent to City Hall. The public is welcome to attend. The board offers various workshops and volunteer opportunities throughout the year and, those interested are encouraged to visit the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page.

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