Elkins, W. Va., January 11, 2021: In response to the current upsurge in coronavirus infections, Elkins City Hall will be closed to the public until further notice starting Tuesday, Mayor Van Broughton ordered today. All city staff are to report for duty as usual and most city operations will continue as usual. One exception is that the Elkins Municipal Court judge has postponed all pending court hearings, including virtual hearings, until January 19.
“I have grave concerns about the current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in Randolph County and across the nation,” said the mayor in his order.
Randolph County’s infection rate has nearly doubled in the last week, from 81.65 to 160.8 per 100,000, according to the W. Va. Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). The percentage of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus has risen from 7.87 last Monday to 12.38 today. Both figures place Randolph County in DHHR’s “red” category, like most other W. Va. counties.
Utility customers and persons needing to pay municipal court fines and fees may do so by phone, by mail, or via the drop box behind city hall. Payments may also be made online. Both the utility bill and municipal court payment portal may be accessed at this link: www.cityofelkinswv.com/online-payments. Contact information for all city departments may be found here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/departments-divisions
Last Monday, City of Elkins announced that “garbage pickup in Elkins may be delayed or disrupted over the next few weeks due to personnel shortages resulting in part from exposures to the COVID-19 virus.”
Today, Operations Manager Bob Pingley provides the following update:
“We seem to have weathered the storm with regards to the Sanitation Department, at least for now. We have enough employees back that the department can operate on its own, with only one employee still out on quarantine.
“We couldn’t have done it without numerous people stepping up and lending a hand to make sure the job got done. Donnie Hedrick, Water Distribution Department supervisor, and Brad Curtis, Building Maintenance supervisor, got the opportunity to brush up on their garbage truck driving skills. Paul Youtzy and Danny Harris from the Central Garage pitched in, as did the entire Street Department. Ron Corcoran from the Fire Department hauled roll-offs for us. We also appreciated the assistance of Elkins City Councilor Chris Lowther.
“It’s teamwork like this that allows us to continue to provide the critical services that our residents depend on. And it’s the opportunity to work with people like these that is the best part of my job here with the city.”
Elkins, W. Va., January 9, 2021: Meeting next week are council’s Public Safety Committee and Personnel Committee. The Elkins Sanitary Board and Elkins Tree Board will also meet. Christmas trees will be collected through Friday.
The Public Safety Committee meets virtually Monday at 10 a.m. Agenda items include demolition of a structure on First Street and continued discussion of enforcement options in response to public complaints about nuisance conditions on the Ambassador Church property at the former location of the Ink Spot, also on First Street. The committee also hears reports from public safety officials.
At its Monday 1 p.m. virtual meeting, the Personnel Committee discusses the code enforcement officer’s job description and considers changes to the city’s personnel manual. Later on Monday, at 3:15 p.m., the Sanitary Board, which oversees the city’s sewer system, meets virtually to review invoices and financial statements.
On Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m., the Elkins Tree Board takes up agenda items that include Arbor Day plans, early spring pruning, and an urban canopy project.
This week’s regular meeting of the Rules & Ordinances Committee has been cancelled. The committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting is February 11 at 12 p.m.
Christmas trees will be collected curbside on weekdays through Friday, January 15. Please remove all decorations, lights, and tinsel.
Meeting agendas and login information may be found here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings
Elkins, W. Va., January 4, 2021: Garbage pickup in Elkins may be delayed or disrupted over the next few weeks due to personnel shortages resulting in part from exposures to the COVID-19 virus, City of Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley announced today. Four of the department’s five drivers are in quarantine, and the department is three short of its normal complement of loaders.
“To maintain our regular level of service, I’ve pulled employees from three other departments to work as drivers and loaders,” said Pingley. “These are some of our best employees and will do all that they can, but unfortunately they just do not know these routes like our regular drivers do.”
As a result, Pingley says, not all garbage may be collected on time or as usual.
“We’ll do our best to get all garbage picked up on schedule, but there are inevitably going to be some hiccups as we go along. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation.”
Elkins, W. Va., January 2, 2021: Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. Next week’s regularly scheduled meetings of council’s Finance Committee and Economic Growth and Development (EGAD) Committee are canceled, as is the regularly scheduled meeting of the Elkins Tree Board.
Christmas trees will be collected Monday, January 4 through Friday, January 15. Please remove all tinsel, lights, and decorations. Trees are collected by the City of Elkins Street Department, not the Sanitation Department, so please place trees by the curb in front of your house, no matter where you normally place trash for collection. Artificial trees are not accepted.
The Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission will begin taking pavilion reservations for the 2021 season on Monday, January 4th. Reservations can be made by calling the parks office at 304-636-3960.
The agenda for council’s Thursday 7 p.m. meeting has not yet been finalized. One agenda item is review and approval of poll workers for the March 2 city elections.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy new year from City of Elkins!
Intervention Prevented Child’s Serious Injury or Death
Elkins, W. Va., December 21, 2020: Elkins Mayor Van Broughton will recognize three City of Elkins Sanitation Department employees for intervening to end an assault on a child in an alley near the city’s Sanitation Department building last week. The recognition ceremony, which will honor COE employees Brandon Harris, Brian Jenkins, and Zachary Ketterman, will be held in the Elkins City Hall council chamber at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Last Friday, Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman were working in the Sanitation Department building when they heard sounds of distress outside. Exiting the building to investigate, they saw a woman struggling with a small boy. A call to 911 around this time reported that a woman was attempting to “drown a child in a puddle.” Elkins Police Department officers raced to the scene.
Before police arrived, Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman had separated the child from the woman, brought him inside the Sanitation Department building, and locked the doors. The child was wet and shivering, the men later told police, and his lips were blue. They dried him off and began wrapping him in articles of their own clothing to try to warm him up.
“I instructed Mr. Harris to take the child inside of my patrol car where the heat was running,” said EPD Senior Patrolman Kevin Shiflett, who was now on scene along with EPD Patrolman First Class William Butcher. “While Mr. Harris and the child got inside of the vehicle we were alerted by Mr. Ketterman and Mr. Jenkins that the female subject was back outside.”
When Butcher and Shiflett contacted the suspect, who was later identified as Catherine Briggs, she charged them and was tased before being restrained and placed under arrest. Officer Butcher took custody of Briggs while Shiflett ran back to his vehicle.
“I drove Mr. Harris and the child to the Davis Medical Center emergency department,” said Shiflett. “The child was later released. I did go and see the child on Saturday, and he appeared to be doing well, all things considered.”
Shiflett was impressed by the three Sanitation Department employees’ quick thinking and selfless actions.
“Brandon Harris showed great courage and compassion in a risky situation,” says Shiflett. “Seeing a child in danger, he didn’t hesitate to jump in and take that child to safety. I also commend Zack Ketterman and Brian Jenkins for backing him up, securing the building, and providing the child with warmth from their own coats.”
Shiflett says his investigation was further aided by Donald Huffman, an employee of a property management company that operates a nearby apartment building.
“Mr. Huffman contacted me to advise that their cameras had captured footage of the incident,” says Shiflett. “Mr. Huffman provided me with a clear video that’s really going to help make our case in court.”
The terrible incident could have turned out much worse if it hadn’t been for the intervention by Harris, Jenkins, and Ketterman.
“In a perfect world something like this would never happen at all but thank goodness it happened near three people who were so ready to help,” says Shiflett. “On behalf of myself, EPD, and the Elkins community, I want to thank all three of these men for stepping up like they did.”
Elkins, W. Va., December 20, 2020: Elkins City Hall will close for the Christmas holiday on Thursday, December 24 at noon and reopen for normal business hours on Monday, December 28. Garbage normally picked up on Fridays will be picked up this Thursday instead, starting at 6 a.m.
There are no meetings scheduled for next week, and city officials are already looking ahead to the new year.
In January, the city’s five administrative officers will begin working with staff to plan departmental budgets for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1, 2021. Departmental budget requests will be reviewed by the Finance Committee before being presented to council, which must submit its initial proposed budget—the “Levy Estimate”—to the state auditor in March. After approval by the state auditor, the city will finalize its budget and “lay the levy” on April 20, 2021.
Preparations continue for the March 2 city election. Just as for the statewide election in November, health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic are an acceptable reason for requesting an absentee ballot. The city clerk is already accepting absentee ballot applications. Mailing of absentee ballots to voters who have requested them will begin January 15, 2021.
The new year will also see forward movement on several important projects, including improvements to the city hall parking lot, the separation of sewer and stormwater lines in a section of the city between the industrial park and Wimer Field, and the replacement of remote-read water meters paid for with surplus funds from the water-plant construction project.
To avoid penalties, remember to remit utility bill and in-city fire fee payments by December 21.
From all of us at City of Elkins, we wish you a merry Christmas and hope your holiday is a source of comfort and joy at the end of this challenging year.
Statement of EPD Chief Travis C. Bennett:
“This afternoon Elkins Police Department officers responded to the alley between S. Davis Avenue and S. Railroad Avenue for a report of a female subject attempting to drown a child in a water puddle.
“Prior to officers’ arrival, bystanders and City of Elkins Sanitation Department employees were able to pull the suspect off the child and remove the child to safety. The child was transported to Davis Medical Center by EPD.
“Officers located and arrested the suspect, identified as Catherine Briggs, near the scene of the incident. Briggs is charged with 1 count of child abuse creating serious injury or death. This incident is still under investigation and more charges are likely.”
Chief of Police
Remote payment options avoid in-person visits to city hall
Elkins, W. Va., December 18, 2020: Although Elkins Municipal Court is following modified procedures to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, defendants must still appear in court on or before the date indicated on their citations. Persons who have established payment plans for fines and fees must also make their payments as agreed.
“Unfortunately, we have had to suspend a few driver’s licenses recently because of failure to appear,” says Michelle Metheny, the municipal court clerk. “We hate to suspend anyone’s license, but that’s the penalty in state code for missing a court date.”
The court also cannot accept concerns about the COVID-19 virus as an excuse for late payments, according to Metheny.
“We understand people are trying to reduce their face-to-face interactions because of the pandemic, but we accept payments online, by mail, and in the drop-box behind city hall,” she says. “No one needs to come inside city hall to drop off payments if they don’t want to. In fact, I would encourage everybody to use one of these remote options if possible, just to be on the safe side.”
Remote options are also available for persons needing to reach the court to request a hearing or submit pleas.
“I’m available by phone, mail, and email to help with hearing requests and pleas or just to answer any questions people might have,” says Metheny. “If you get my voice mail, please leave a message and I will get back to you no later than the next business day.”
Online payment portal: www.municipalonlinepayments.com/elkinswv
Municipal court information, including pandemic precautions: www.cityofelkinswv.com/living/public-safety/municipal-court
Court Clerk Contact Information:
Michelle L. Metheny
Phone: (304) 635-7142
401 Davis Avenue, Elkins WV 26241
Elkins, W. Va., December 16, 2020: In Elkins, when someone disagrees with a zoning decision, their first recourse is to request review by the Elkins Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The BZA has the authority, within certain limitations, to reverse zoning decisions, authorize exceptions, and grant variances. There are currently two vacancies on the city’s five-seat BZA, and applications are now being accepted for these crucial volunteer positions.
The BZA meets infrequently, typically only when an appeal is received. In the last several years, the board has met only a handful of times. However, the Elkins Planning Commission has been working on an updated zoning code for the city that will be presented for council’s consideration in 2021. With expanded zoning rules, it can be expected that the workload of the BZA may expand as well.
BZA members serve three-year terms. To be eligible to serve on the BZA, applicants must have lived inside Elkins city limits for the three years preceding their appointment date. During their terms of office, BZA members are not allowed to serve on the city’s planning commission or hold any other city elected or appointed office.
No special or technical knowledge is required to serve on the BZA. The board is supported by the building inspector and zoning officer, the city attorney, and other city staff as needed.