Elkins Releases Welcome Guide for New Residents

Elkins has released a new publication aimed at recent arrivals in town. The booklet, Welcome to Elkins: A guide to Living and Working in Elkins, West Virginia, is intended to familiarize new residents with city services, procedures, and rules.

The guide includes a brief history of Elkins followed by chapters about downtown parking regulations, weekly and special garbage collection, utility services and billing, and assorted topics related to building and maintenance code enforcement.

Other sections orient newcomers to the city’s recreation facilities and offer a listing of the city’s many arts and cultural venues, clubs, and nonprofit organizations. There is also an overview of area public safety and emergency service providers. The guide goes on to explain business licensing, business taxes, and the local tax structure.

Contact information is provided for both frequently contacted city departments and external agencies that also serve area residents. Finally, there is a listing of local service, volunteer, and fraternal organizations that new arrivals may be interested in joining.

The guide is available in paper form on request at Elkins City Hall or may be downloaded on the city website here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/living/welcome-to-elkins.

##

Clarification: “Street Legal” UTVs Not Prohibited in Elkins

Contrary to past messaging on this topic, “street legal” utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) are not prohibited from being operated on public streets in the City of Elkins. ATVs, however, remain prohibited on city streets under current city law. Both may be operated on private property. Read on to learn more about what “street legal” UTVs are and the current city and state laws pertaining to them.

Background

Until 2020, state law prohibited all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) from traveling on public streets and highways, except for the purpose of crossing them.

In 2001, the Elkins Common Council adopted its own ordinance prohibiting use of ATVs (as defined in W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(ii)) on city streets. This 2001 ordinance remains in effect today.

Definitions

Current W. Va. Code defines ATVs as:

“[A]ny motor vehicle designed for off-highway use and designed to travel on not less than three low-pressure or nonhighway tires, is 50 inches or less in width and intended by the manufacturer to be used by a single operator or is specifically designed by the manufacturer with seating for each passenger. “All-terrain vehicle” and “ATV” does not include mini trucks, golf carts, riding lawnmowers, electric bicycles as defined in §17C-1-70 of this code, or tractors.” (W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(ii))

Current W. Va. Code defines UTVs as:

“[A]ny motor vehicle with four or more low-pressure or nonhighway tires designed for off-highway use and is greater than 50 inches in width. “Utility terrain vehicle” does not include mini trucks, golf carts, riding lawnmowers, or tractors.” (W. Va. Code § 17-A-1-1(vv))

2020 Change to State Code

During the West Virginia Legislature’s 2020 session, lawmakers amended state law to create a framework under which certain ATVs and UTVs could be operated legally on public streets and highways.

Under the new law, W. Va. Code §17A-13-1, ATVs and UTVs that (1) comply with all of that law’s stipulated requirements (including but not limited to headlamps, tail lamps, windshields, mufflers, and similar items) and (2) are registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles in the same manner as motorcycles (including displaying a Class G registration plate) may be operated on most public streets and highways. (Exceptions include controlled-access highways, such as interstates.)

Implications for Elkins

Admittedly, W. Va. Code 17A-13-1 does not require cities to allow the operation of even “street legal” UTVs or ATVs. Instead, in essence, this law states that “the county, municipality, or Division of Natural Resources… [may] prohibit… special purpose vehicles.”

Elkins does not prohibit both categories of these vehicles, however. Although Elkins law does prohibit ATVs from being operated on city streets, there is no prohibition concerning UTVs.

Therefore, under current state and city laws, it is permitted for UTVs meeting the requirements of §17A-13-1 to be operated on city streets. Changing this would require new action by council.

$1.27 Million Grant for Economy Building in Elkins, 7 Other W. Va. Communities

Award is from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative to the WV Community Development Hub 

CHARLESTON, WV – The WV Community Development Hub is excited to announce the launch of the Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreation Economies (DARRE), a strategic three-year initiative to build local economies. Eight communities located in the Monongahela National Forest region in West Virginia will participate: Cowen, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Parsons, Petersburg,  Richwood, and White Sulphur Springs. 

The central partners of the program, the WV Community Development Hub, the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, and Partner Community Capital (formerly Natural Capital Investment Fund), combined bring more than 30 years of experience in community engagement, property redevelopment technical services, financial investment and lending, and strategic planning. 

With the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the One Foundation, DARRE will support rural communities in building an integrated strategy for economy building focused on the following activities: downtown building redevelopment, entrepreneurial training & small business development assistance, and comprehensive community revitalization.

While the tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, state and national parks have been an exception to the rule, including in West Virginia which saw a 9% increase of visitors to these locations in 2020. Communities located near parks and recreational areas, like the eight participating in DARRE, are ideally placed to take advantage of the state’s investment in tourism attraction and its connected investment in remote worker attraction.

DARRE will build upon community partnerships developed as part of the WV Community Development Hub’s community coaching programs including working with existing teams to help accelerate positive impacts. The eight participating communities will have access to over $1M in technical assistance funding to revitalize underutilized downtown properties and attract developer investment; technical support to build engaged entrepreneurial communities that proactively develop and support small businesses; and community development services that ensure long-term local engagement and visible improvements to each individual community.  

The central partners leading this program will engage many business and project development support organizations to leverage the maximum amount of resources for participating communities. The DARRE partnership welcomes inquiries from interested stakeholders as well as residents in participating communities. To get connected with the DARRE program, contact program leads Kaycie Stushek at k.stushek@wvhub.org or Stacy Thomas at s.thomas@wvhub.org.

About the WV Community Development Hub

The West Virginia Community Development Hub mobilizes residents from all over the state to spark transformational change and progress in their communities. Hallmarks of the organization’s work are to spur on fresh momentum where little exists; to unite the forces of groups that have not considered – or even resisted – collaboration in the past; and to champion new, and sometimes unexpected, leaders. Over the past year, The Hub has worked directly with 21 communities across the state and 40% of West Virginians were positively impacted by Hub-related projects. More information about The Hub’s work and impacts over the past year is available at wvhub.org

CONTACT: EMMA PEPPER, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, 202-550-2208, E.PEPPER@WVHUB.ORG

Main Street Survey About New Parking Signs and Markings

Last modified on September 12th, 2021 at 09:39 am

Elkins is testing new parking signs and parking-space markings on one block of Third Street, and the public is invited to provide feedback through an online survey.

The purpose of this “test block,” which lies on Third Street between Davis Avenue and Kerens Avenue, is to enable city officials, residents, business owners and employees, and other stakeholders to see and comment on proposed new signs and markings before plans are finalized for implementation throughout the downtown area.

Elkins Main Street, a downtown revitalization organization that frequently partners with City of Elkins on improvements in the city’s Central Business District, is coordinating the survey and will collect and report on results.

“We want to hear what people think,” says Madalyn Higgins, the executive director of Elkins Main Street. “If any of the signs are hard to see or confusing, or if the markings on the ground could be tweaked to make them more helpful, that’s exactly the sort of thing we’re hoping to hear. We want any new signs and other visual aids to be as helpful as possible.”

The proposed signage and markings currently on display on the test block are the latest step in the multi-phase Elkins Streetscape Vision created by Elkins Main Street and City of Elkins and adopted by city council in 2016. The overall goals of the parking-related action steps in this plan are to reduce visual clutter, make the downtown even more inviting, and encourage visitors and locals alike to get out of their cars, visit local businesses, and explore the area.

Past steps included the removal of all downtown parking-meter heads and the change from 2-hour paid parking to 3-hour free parking 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Future steps include removal of all meter posts throughout downtown. The new parking signposts will include brackets for the American Legion’s flag displays on national flag holidays. Meter posts will be temporarily left in place on Davis Avenue and Third Street so that these displays can continue uninterrupted in the meantime.

After the survey responses and other feedback have been analyzed and incorporated, Elkins Main Street and the city will plan for implementation of new signage and markings throughout the downtown.

“This has been a collaborative project all along,” says Higgins. “We’ve had great support from the city’s Street Department, and Randolph WORC students assisted with painting the new markings. Now it’s the public’s turn to weigh in and let us know how we can make the new signage and markings as helpful and successful as possible.”

The survey is here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsParkingSurvey

The Elkins Streetscape Vision is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Streetscape

##

Read this on our blog: www.cityofelkinswv.com/city-blog.

 

UPDATED 8/30: Water-Line Flushing to Resume Monday

Updated Monday, 8/30

Elkins, W. Va., August 27, 2021: Elkins crews have completed flushing water lines in Fourth Ward and Fifth Ward. There will be no flushing Friday night. Work will continue Monday 5 p.m.-5 a.m., when crews will start flushing lines south of Eleventh Street, including all of First Ward in Third and Second Wards. [Update: the change is because of water-line relocation work scheduled for South Elkins Monday at 4.]

“We’re making good time so far,” says Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the city’s water system. “The Street Department was good enough to detail four men to assist, so that has really helped us move quickly.”

After flushing is complete in a given section of the city, the Elkins Fire Department performs flow testing on each hydrant to verify that they are operating according to specifications. Although flow testing only requires hydrants to be open for a few minutes, it takes longer than flushing because each hydrant must be tested. Flushing does not require opening every hydrant, because many sit near each other on the same line.

Even though the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall). The Water Line Flushing Map is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map.

##

Flushing Complete East of Randolph, Continuing West of Randolph

Elkins, W. Va., August 26, 2021: Water-line flushing east of Randolph Avenue is complete, and crews will begin flushing west of Randolph Avenue tonight. The Elkins Fire Department is flow-testing all fire hydrants in Fourth Ward today. Water lines are being flushed 5 p.m.-5 a.m. Monday-Friday, and work is expected to continue for the next two weeks.

Tonight’s flushing, which starts at 5 p.m., will begin in the vicinity of Randolph Avenue and Eleventh Street and proceed north between the Tygart River and Randolph. The hydrants to be flushed starting tonight lie in the easternmost part of First Ward and Second Ward. Hydrants in Fifth Ward will be flushed as well.

On the city’s online Water Line Flushing Map (www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map), these hydrants are in Section 2 and are identified by green dots. (See screenshot, below.)

“Last night’s flushing in Fourth Ward went pretty quickly,” said Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the city’s water system. “The further we move out from Reservoir Hill, the longer it is going to take to clear some of the lines.”

To flush the lines, Water Distribution Department workers systematically open fire hydrants and let the water flow at full force until water clears. After flushing is complete, the Elkins Fire Department will perform flow testing on each hydrant to ensure they are operating as required for emergencies.

Although the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

City officials are currently investigating whether funds awarded to Elkins under the American Rescue Project Act (ARPA) may be used to replace older water mains and make other improvements to the water distribution system.

“We are hoping to take some concrete steps soon toward a more permanent solution for customers experiencing discolored water,” says Lambert. “Until then, regular line flushing is the best tool we have for at least reducing the problems people are having. Unfortunately, some people are going to see discolored water as we proceed. We just hope everyone will be patient and bear with us as we get this program rolling again.”

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall). The Water Line Flushing Map is here: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Flushing-Map.

##

Water-Line Flushing Starts Wednesday

Elkins, W. Va., August 24, 2021: The City of Elkins Water Distribution Department will begin flushing the city’s water lines on Wednesday night, the chief operator of the city’s water system announced today. The flushing will be performed 5 p.m.-5 a.m. Monday-Friday as other work allows. This week’s flushing will focus on Fourth Ward and U.S. Route 33 eastward from its intersection with Randolph Avenue.

The purpose of the flushing, which the health department recommends be performed every six months, is to reduce the volume of rust, mineral deposits, and other sediments in underground water pipes that can cause cloudy or discolored water at the tap.

In 2017, the city built a new, state-of-the-art plant to purify water from the Tygart Valley River. This water must travel to Elkins homes and businesses through a network of much older pipes, however, some of which have been in the ground for the better part of a century.

“Our water plant puts out high-quality, extremely pure drinking water, but some of the pipes that water has to go out through are really old and not in the greatest condition,” says Wes Lambert, the water system’s chief operator. “That fancy new plant doesn’t mean a whole lot to someone who gets brown water when they turn on the faucet.”

To flush the lines, Water Distribution Department workers will systematically open fire hydrants and let the water flow at full force for a prescribed amount of time. The flushing will be combined with flow testing to ensure each hydrant is operating in accordance with fire department requirements.

“The flushing is not a perfect process because of the way the system has grown over the years,” says Lambert. “There are some parts of the city where, because of hydrant location and the hydrodynamics of the pipe network in that area, we aren’t able to flush as much as we would like. But the hope is that by flushing everywhere we can on a regular basis, it will still reduce the overall volume of sediment in the pipes citywide.”

Another reason flushing is not always a cure-all for discolored water is because the rust or other sediments affecting certain customers may originate in their own service lines, the pipes that connect the city-maintained water mains to each customer’s house or building.

“If the rust is coming from a customer’s service line, the flushing we’re doing is not going to help a whole lot,” says Lambert, who points out that the city is responsible for water lines only until they reach each customer’s water meter. “In that case, the customer is going to need to consult with a plumber to see what they might be able to do.”

Lambert explains that the goal is to complete this round of flushing within about a month but concedes it may take longer.

“If our guys could do this every night, we’d be able to wrap up in about a month. But we know there are going to be water-line breaks and other projects that come along, so it will probably run longer than that.”

Although the overall goal of the flushing is to reduce sediment in water lines, customers in or near a section of the city that is being flushed may temporarily experience heightened discoloration in their water. This does not indicate that the water is unsafe to drink, cook with, or bathe in, but it would be advisable to avoid doing laundry until any remaining sediment has settled once again.

Customers experiencing cloudy or discolored water can try leaving taps open in a bathtub or sink for 20 minutes. It is important not to run hot water, however, as that would fill the building’s water heater with water that contains sediments.

Each week, the city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed. The information will also be supplied to the media.

City officials are currently investigating whether funds awarded to Elkins under the American Rescue Project Act (ARPA) may be used to replace older water mains and make other improvements to the water distribution system.

“We are hoping to take some concrete steps soon toward a more permanent solution for customers experiencing discolored water,” says Lambert. “Until then, regular line flushing is the best tool we have for at least reducing the problems people are having. Unfortunately, some people are going to see discolored water as we proceed. We just hope everyone will be patient and bear with us as we get this program rolling again.”

To keep up with City of Elkins news and announcements about this and other topics, bookmark our website (www.cityofelkinswv.com), sign up for email alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/newsletter-signup), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall).

##

Elkins Launches Online ARPA Survey

Elkins, W. Va., August 20, 2021: City of Elkins is using an online survey to collect public input concerning how to spend federal pandemic-recovery funds granted to the city. The survey will accept responses through Sunday, September 12.

Under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed earlier this year, Elkins has been awarded approximately $3 million in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Mayor Jerry Marco has established an ad-hoc ARPA Advisory Committee to advise the Elkins council as it considers how to make use of these funds.

The mayor, the committee, and city staff have already been discussing possible uses for these funds, including improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems and ADA accessibility upgrades to city hall. The purpose of the online survey is to enable the public to propose additional ideas for making best use of these funds.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT) has issued rules guiding and restricting expenditures of these funds. There are two overarching restrictions.

First, ARPA funds must be used in one of the following categories: supporting the public health response to the pandemic; addressing the negative economic impacts of the pandemic; replacing public sector revenue losses; providing premium pay for essential workers; improving water and sewer infrastructure; improving broadband infrastructure; and/or providing equity-focused services.

Second, DOT rules specifically prohibit ARPA funds from being used to offset reductions in net tax revenues or to make extraordinary payments (i.e., payments intended to reduce accrued unfunded liabilities) into public pension funds.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, ARPA funds will be distributed in two equal disbursements, half in 2021 and half in 2022. ARPA funds cannot be used to cover expenditures made prior to March 3, 2021. Funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024, and expenditures to cover those obligations must occur no later than December 31, 2026.

Extensive additional restrictions apply. These may be reviewed by visiting the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds home page to access fact sheets, FAQs, and the full interim rules for use of these funds.

Survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/RBWDQ3P

DOT Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds homepage: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds

##

Melody Himes appointed interim operations manager

At its regular meeting last night, the Elkins council entered executive session under the personnel exemption to discuss a personnel matter in the Operations Department.

After exiting executive session, Mayor Jerry Marco announced that no actions had been taken nor decisions made in executive session.

Councilor Rob Chenoweth, chair of the Personnel Committee, announced that Bob Pingley, the city’s operations manager, had submitted a letter of resignation earlier this week. Councilor Chenoweth moved that Melody Himes, the city’s operations assistant, be appointed interim operations manager. The motion carried.

The mayor announced plans to form a hiring committee.

Elkins council meetings to be streamed online

Elkins, W. Va., July 14, 2021: Elkins City Council meetings can now be viewed online, thanks to a newly installed streaming system that transmits both audio and video from the council chamber in city hall to the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Meetings can be viewed live and will also be archived on both sites for later review.

Although technical issues encountered using commercial conferencing services during the pandemic drove home the need for a better way to share council meetings with remote viewers, city officials had already been thinking about ways to make council meetings even more accessible.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase transparency and provide the public with as much information as possible about their city government,” says Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “The strategic plan council adopted in 2018 included a goal of increasing public engagement, and broadcasting council meetings is a great step in that direction.”

City of Elkins contracted with Electronic Specialty, the same company that modernized the council-chamber sound system in early 2020, to install a streaming system. Electronic Specialty recommended a solution that uses a broadcast-quality high-definition PTZOptics camera with a 12x optical zoom to capture video. Digital audio is captured from the chamber’s new sound board. An AV encoder streams the resulting signal to the city’s social media pages.

Electronic Specialty based its recommendations for this system on its extensive experience deploying similar solutions throughout the state.

“We’ve set up streaming systems for a lot of churches, county commissions, courts, and even the state legislature, and we’re always evaluating new equipment,” says Mark Wood, the AV manager for Electronic Specialty. “The PTZOptics camera is an excellent balance of cost and quality for this kind of setup.”

The overall cost of the new streaming system was about $3,500.

To allow city officials and staff to learn and test the system, at first only council meetings will be broadcast. In the fall, city staff will evaluate the possibility of broadcasting committee meetings as well.

According to Wood, Elkins’s new streaming system puts the city ahead of the curve.

“There aren’t many cities in West Virginia we know of that have deployed this kind of capability,” he says. “Elkins is kind of on the cutting edge by going this route.”

Sutton agrees that the new system should be seen as a point of pride for Elkins officials, residents, and business owners alike.

“Council makes decisions that affects thousands of people, including residents and business owners, and all of those people have the right to observe the process and understand how their representatives are arriving at those decisions,” she says. “By making it simple and convenient to view meetings online, the new streaming system really underlines our commitment to transparency and public engagement.”

The meetings will be streamed on:

##

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest news and alerts by signing up for our newsletter!

You have Successfully Subscribed!