Fire Department Testing September 12

The Elkins Fire Department (EFD) will be performing civil service testing on September 12. The physical fitness testing and written testing will both be offered that day.

There are currently no openings at EFD. However, the only way to be considered for a future opening is to pass the physical and written tests and be placed on the eligible candidates list of the Elkins Firefighters Civil Service Commission.

EFD’s physical fitness standards have recently been updated. (To download them, click here.) The standards are challenging, so candidates interested in testing in September should begin training immediately.

Updated information, including application packets, will be posted on our Civil Service Hiring page. You may also register with the mayor’s executive secretary to receive an application packet by email when they become available.

Elkins Council Considering Charter Changes Thursday

Elkins, W. Va., August 3, 2020: Elkins Common Council will hear a presentation from its charter-change consultant at Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting. The presentation will include analysis of and recommendations for improving the city charter. Immediately following, council will begin public deliberations concerning what charter changes to pursue. Following Thursday’s meeting, subsequent planned steps in the charter review process include opportunities for questions and input from the public, a formal public hearing, and at least two additional public council meetings.

“A city charter is the foundational document of a municipality,” says Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “It lays out the structure, authorities, and basic operating rules of a city’s government. Here in Elkins, our charter hasn’t been updated since 1901, so it was time to take a look at what may need adapted to the times.”

Council set goals of updating the charter and evaluating the feasibility of adopting a city-manager form of government in its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. Members began working toward these goals in committee meetings during the summer of 2019. In December of that year, council hired Tim Stranko, an attorney specializing in municipal law who has assisted other cities with charter changes, to make informational presentations to council about allowed forms of government for West Virginia cities; council structures in use at other cities; and municipal best practices that might be considered for inclusion in an updated charter.

“Mr. Stranko wrapped up his presentations in June, and now council is going to start actively discussing and deliberating about what changes it can support making to the charter,” says Sutton.

One planned topic for discussion is the possibility of shifting to a city-manager-based form of government. State code authorizes five “plans” of municipal government. Elkins currently uses the Mayor-Council Plan, in which both governing and administrative authority are held, collectively, by the mayor and the council.

“Under the Mayor-Council Plan, mayors have almost no authority and all important decisions—both policy and administrative—ultimately fall to council,” says Sutton. “Council wants to consider whether shifting administrative authority to a manager might enable members to focus on policy, strategy, and goalsetting and leave day-to-day management decisions to someone with training and experience in city administration.”

Council will also discuss the possibility of making changes to council structure and election processes, extending the mayor’s term from two to four years, changing the date of elections, and including financial processes in the charter.

“This process is certainly not going to end on Thursday,” says Sutton. “Council discussions concerning the charter will continue at as many meetings as necessary until there is consensus on changes members feel they can publicly endorse.”

Once a draft charter has been endorsed, the subsequent steps will be a public Q&A session with Mr. Stranko and council, a public hearing, and two readings of an ordinance adopting the new charter.

Other resources concerning the charter update process are available by clicking here.

City Hall News: Aug. 1, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., August 1, 2020: Elkins Common Council meets virtually on Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda is not yet finalized but includes an ordinance revising municipal court fees, the second of three readings of an ordinance issuing bonds to finance the sewer/stormwater separation project, and an ordinance adopting the first recodification of city laws since 1991.

At Thursday’s meeting, council will also hear a presentation from the attorney advising members on the charter update process. Council will then begin public deliberations toward specific charter-change proposals. After Thursday’s meeting, next steps in the process will include, at a minimum, informal opportunities for questions and input from the public, a formal public hearing, and at least two additional public council meetings.

Utilities shutoffs, suspended since March, resume Wednesday. If you have not paid your June balance in full, including both new charges for June and any additional amounts listed as past due on your June bill, your account will be subject to shutoff as of Wednesday.  New charges listed on your July bill, which will be mailed July 31, are not due until later in August and will not subject you to the August 5 round of shutoffs. Utility bills may be paid online (www.bit.ly/ElkinsBills), by mail, by phone, via the dropbox behind city hall, or in person.

The Elkins Firefighters Civil Service Commission meets Wednesday to plan for a round of civil service testing in the fall. Although there are currently no vacancies, it is necessary to test and be placed on the fire department’s list of eligible candidates to be considered for any future openings.

Elkins Officials Explain Railroad Avenue Parking Decision

Change Necessary Due to Substantially Increased Traffic, Federal Standards

Elkins, W. Va., July 31, 2020: The decision to prohibit parallel parking along Railroad Avenue in Elkins was triggered by concerns about increasing traffic volumes and was necessary to comply with federal traffic safety standards, city officials explained today.

The change, which eliminated parallel parking in front of the offices of the Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Senior Center, and the American Legion, among other Railroad Avenue buildings, was approved at an October meeting of council’s Municipal Properties Committee. The decision to make this change was supported by the city’s operations manager, police chief, and fire chief. A representative of the American Legion was also in attendance at the October meeting.

Increasing traffic on Railroad Avenue led officials to reevaluate parking rules there.

“One of the main issues creating the need for this change is the ever-increasing volume of traffic on Railroad Avenue,” says Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley.  “Time was that Railroad Avenue was a quiet little side street. Now it’s really the gateway to downtown. It gets more traffic on a daily basis than even Davis Avenue.”

As the number of motor vehicles traveling Railroad Avenue has grown, so have the risks to drivers and pedestrians alike.

“The busier a street is, the less safe it is for people to be getting in and out of cars parked along that street,” says Pingley. “Other issues include lines of sight for drivers making turns onto Railroad Avenue, such as from Fourth Street. Blind spots from parked cars combined with high traffic volume is really a recipe for disaster.”

In making determinations about traffic and parking safety, the city must do its best to conform with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a publication of the Federal Highway Administration.

“The MUTCD lays out standards about stoplights, signs, sight triangles at intersections, road widths, and safe parking,” says Pingley. “Elkins is a 100-year-old city, so we’re probably never going to be perfectly compliant with standards like these throughout the whole downtown. But wherever possible, and especially as we make improvements like the work that’s been done on and along Railroad Avenue recently, we absolutely have to make every effort to get as close as we can to these accepted standards.”

The change eliminated no designated handicapped parking spots.

“There wasn’t any handicapped parking affected by this decision,” says Pingley. “There is still handicapped parking on Fourth Street, just down the block from the American Legion. There is also free, unlimited parking available in the lot behind city hall.”

Pingley says he recognizes the change is not welcome in all quarters but wants the city’s residents, business owners, and visitors to understand that it was made with safety in mind.

“When there is an official set of published traffic safety standards, we simply cannot ignore them,” says Pingley. “Those standards are issued by traffic engineers and other experts in keeping pedestrians and drivers as safe as possible. Taking away parking that people have come to depend on is never going to be the most popular decision, but I’m confident it is the safest decision in this case.”

Elkins Resuming Utilities Shutoffs August 5

Shutoffs Had Been Suspended Since March

Elkins, W. Va., July 29, 2020: City of Elkins water and sewer utilities will recommence shutting off service for unpaid bills starting Wednesday, August 5, officials announced today. The city suspended shutoffs in March on the recommendation of the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC).

As per PSC rules, City of Elkins water and sewer bills are issued monthly on the last business day of the month. Payments are due no later than 19 days after the bill date. Unpaid accounts are shut off 32 days after the bill date.

Now that the city is ending the suspension of shutoffs, any past due balance on a utility account will be subject to shutoff as of August 5. If you have not paid your June balance in full, including both new charges for June and any additional amounts listed as past due on your June bill, your account is subject to shutoff.

New charges listed on your July bill, which will be mailed July 31, are not due until later in August and will not subject you to the August 5 round of shutoffs.

Customers who cannot afford to pay their past-due balance in full can avoid having their service shut off by establishing a repayment plan. These plans are formal, binding agreements that require the account holder’s signature. To set up a repayment plan, inquire in person at the treasurer’s department, on the first floor of Elkins City Hall.

Utility bills may be paid online (www.bit.ly/ElkinsBills), by mail, by phone, via the dropbox behind city hall, or in person. More information is available by calling or emailing the utility billing department: (304) 636-1414, ext. 1720; cdolly@cityofelkinswv.com.

City Hall News: July 25, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., July 25, 2020: There are currently no council or committee meetings scheduled for next week.

Quarterly B&O tax returns are due to the treasurer’s department by Friday, July 31. If you need a new form, you may download one at this page: www.cityofelkinswv.com/working/business-licensing-taxes.

Remember that the hours of the Elkins Municipal Court recently changed. Court is now in session Wednesdays and Thursday, 2-4:30 p.m. The judge is available by appointment Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, 3-4 p.m., for those needing to contest traffic and/or parking citations. For more information about the municipal court, please visit this web page: www.cityofelkinswv.com/living/public-safety/municipal-court.

Door Sign Available: Masks Required

Effective July 7, 2020, Governor Jim Justice announced an order requiring that “face coverings” be worn “in all public indoor places where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The governor’s office has now distributed a door sign that business owners and others can post to remind customers of this requirement. Click here to download the sign.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 9 or anyone with a medical condition that counter-indicates wearing a face covering. The governor emphasized that medical-grade masks are not required and that any sort of face covering would be acceptable. (Click here for sew/no-sew mask-making instructions).

Click here to read the governor’s order.

Stepped Up Parking Enforcement to Start July 20

Enforcement was scaled back due to stay-at-home/safer-at-home orders

Elkins, W. Va., July 13, 2020: Enforcement of city parking laws will return to normal on Monday, July 20, Elkins officials have announced. After the governor’s declaration of a statewide state of emergency in March, city officials deemphasized and even suspended issuing citations for street sweeper parking restrictions and certain other parking rules in Elkins. With many businesses having reopened, officials say there is a need to return to normal enforcement of street sweeper parking restrictions and all other parking laws in the city.

“Our city, along with the rest of the nation, has experienced extraordinary challenges this year resulting in modifications to business and personal schedules for many,” said Elkins Mayor Van Broughton in a notification letter sent last week to many city businesses and residents. “As many businesses and residents return to modified or normal operating procedures, so shall parking enforcement.”

The mayor’s letter listed violations about which the city hears the most frequent complaints and which may have been receiving reduced enforcement in recent months. These and all other parking violations will now be cited when encountered by enforcement personnel:

  • Parallel parking facing in the wrong direction
  • Street sweeper parking restrictions (please note: vehicles may be parked on the sidewalk temporarily during your designated sweeping time)
  • 3-hour parking limits downtown and in Seneca Mall lot
  • Parking on and other obstructions of sidewalks in all residential and business districts (except during street sweeping)
  • Obstruction of alleyways
  • Parking on Railroad Avenue except in lined spaces near the Delmonte and the Depot (the rest of the street is a no parking zone)

If businesses wish to seek exceptions to these or other parking rules, they should apply to the city clerk by submitting the following information:

  • Contact name, phone number, and email address
  • Name and address of business
  • Description of requested exception and its location
  • The reason for the request

Although not all such requests can be granted, a response will be provided within 14 days.

Residents, business owners, and visitors are reminded that free, unlimited parking is available in the unpaved sections of the lot behind city hall. The street sweeper parking schedule may be found here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsStreetSweeper.

Elkins City Hall Reopening Monday, July 13, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., July 12, 2020: Elkins City Hall, which closed on Thursday and Friday because an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, will reopen Monday morning at 8 a.m. for normal hours of operation.

The purpose of the closure was to prevent any additional virus transmission while the extent of current spread within city hall staff was evaluated. On Thursday, city employees identified as having been in contact with the first affected employee were swabbed for the COVID-19 virus. As per DHHR and CDC guidelines, these employees then self-isolated while awaiting the results of their tests. During the closure, city hall maintenance staff performed deep cleaning of the first affected employee’s workspace and other nearby areas.

Although not all pending test results have been received yet, enough employees have tested negative for the virus to enable resumption of normal city hall operations. So far, no additional employees have tested positive. Employees who have not yet received test results by Monday morning will continue self-isolating at home until their results are received.

Everyone entering city hall is asked to adhere to the following West Virginia Governor’s Office safety guidelines and requirements.

  • Please visit city hall only if there is no other option. Remember that utility bills and municipal court fines can be paid by mail, online, phone, or via the dropbox behind city hall. Questions can be answered by phone or email. See cityofelkinswv.com for more details, including departmental contact information.
  • Wait your turn to enter. As ordered by the W. Va. DHHR, only two people may be admitted to the building’s lobby at a time.
  • Maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement.
  • Wear a mask and sanitize your hands upon entering. As of July 6, 2020, the governor has ordered that all people wear face coverings inside public buildings. Sanitizer will be available at the counter.
  • Make an appointment to meet with non-Treasurer’s Department personnel. If you require a face-to-face meeting with a city hall employee located on the second floor, please contact that employee in advance, via phone or email, to arrange a time. This meeting will occur on the first floor, in the municipal courtroom, pending availability of that space.

City Hall News: July 13-17, 2020

Elkins, W. Va., July 11, 2020: Elkins City Hall closed Thursday because an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Reopening could occur as soon as Monday, July 13, but we cannot announce a firm reopening date until test results are received by employees who were in contact with that original employee.

Council’s Personnel Committee meets virtually on Monday, at 2 p.m., on an agenda that includes “consideration of Human Resources services” and a personnel issue in the municipal court department.

At Wednesday’s 5 p.m. meeting of the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission, the commission will review its ongoing pandemic response. Commissioners will also hear reports on the Phil Gainer Community Center, parks and recreation, and its overall budget. The commission meets at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

The Elkins Planning Commission continues work on its update to the city’s zoning laws in a virtual meeting on Thursday, at 10:30 a.m. Commissioners will continue work on the language of the new ordinance, review a draft zoning map, and consider proposed updates to the comprehensive plan’s future land use map. The agenda also includes consideration of the zoning ordinance’s enactment process and schedule.

Council meets virtually in regular session Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda has not yet been finalized but, so far, includes the first reading of the ordinance issuing bonds to fund the Phase 2 Sewer Project, the second reading of the municipal court fee ordinance approved on first reading at the previous council meeting, and budget revisions recommended by council’s Finance Committee. For information about the Phase 2 Sewer Project, please see: www.bit.ly/Phase2Sewer.

The above meetings are open to the public. Login information and agendas for virtual meetings can be found at: www. cityofelkinswv.com/login.

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