9/28: S. Elkins Water Outage

Water system employees responding to broken service lines have closed valves in South Elkins until repairs can be completed. Customers throughout the circled area in the below map may have low or no pressure. Repairs may take as long as 6 hours.

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.

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City Hall News: Week of September 27, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., September 25, 2021: Meeting next week are two ad hoc council committees, the Collaboration and Marketing Committee and the ARPA Advisory Committee. Also meeting are the Elkins Planning Commission and the Elkins Water Board.

During its Monday, 1 p.m. virtual meeting, the Planning Commission will continue its work updating the city’s zoning laws, which have not been significantly amended since adoption in the 1950s. As the commission nears completion of its draft ordinance, it will consider input recently received from city council and other stakeholders. The commission will also plan opportunities for the public to review the draft ordinance once it is complete.

The Collaboration and Marketing Committee meets Tuesday at 9 a.m. The committee, which was recently created by Mayor Jerry Marco, will discuss its mission and goals as potential uses for the city’s marketing budget.

Also on Tuesday, at 4 p.m., the Water Board will review requests for approval of ARPA funds expenditures, the disposition of the water meters replaced this year, and options for recovering the cost of water-line repairs this year.

On Wednesday at 9 a.m., the ARPA Advisory Committee will discuss proposed uses for the $3 million in ARPA funds awarded to the city. The committee will also begin designing frameworks for prioritizing and executing proposed uses for the funds.

On Thursday, city employees will attend virtual training on snow and ice removal.

Applications for the Adopt-a-Tree program are available now and are due October 15: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Adopt-a-Tree

All meetings are in person at Elkins City Hall (401 Davis Avenue) unless otherwise stated.

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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.

2021 Adopt-A-Tree Program Accepting Applications

The City of Elkins Tree Board Adopt-A-Tree program returns this fall with a goal of having more young trees planted throughout the city. The Adopt-A-Tree program provides a free young tree to selected homeowners in each of the city’s five wards. Application deadline for residents is Friday, October 15.

Members of the Elkins Tree Board encourage residents in all 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 and board members can provide advice throughout that period.

The young trees should be planted in front of the home or business and the type of tree will vary according to the site location. Preferred locations are in the designated tree lawn—the grassy area located between the street and the sidewalk—to help create a green, cooling canopy. The homeowner will be responsible for planting the tree within two weeks of receiving it.

The goal of the program is 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 decreasing water run-off, reducing air-conditioning costs, and muffling noise pollution. Most importantly, trees remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the major contributing factor to climate change.

Applications are available online on the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page and the City of Elkins website, as well as at Elkins City Hall (401 Davis Avenue). Deadline for submission is October 15, 2021, and trees will be distributed no later than October 30. For further information, contact Marilynn Cuonzo, chair, Elkins Tree Board, at 304.636.5900 or mcuonzo@cityofelkinswv.com.

The Elkins Tree Board meets the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Darden House (next door to city hall). The public is welcome to attend. The board offers workshops and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Please visit the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page to learn more.

2021 Leaf Pickup Starts Oct. 4

Leaf pick up begins Monday, October 4, 2021 and continues for the rest of the fall, until either all leaves have been collected or snow has started falling.

What to do with your leaves
To make use of this service, rake leaves into piles in the grassy area between the curb and the sidewalk or bag up leaves for pick up.

Please do not place leaves in the street, as this causes problems with storm drains as well as parking and traffic concerns. City employees will not go into yards to collect leaves.

Is There a Schedule?
In the interest of efficiency, we do not schedule leaf collection by area but instead target the heaviest concentrations of leaves on any given day.

However, we are continuing last year’s practice of collecting bagged leaves within 48 hours. Customers will need to place the bagged leaves at the curb and contact the Operations Division at (304)-636-1414, ext. 1437 to report the location of the bagged leaves for pick up. Bags must contain only leaves and no yard waste or trash.

Other Information
Please remember that this process is weather dependent. For example, we can’t effectively pick up leaves in a pouring rain.

Also, keep in mind that we only have one leaf truck to cover the city. Please be patient—we will get to each property as soon as we can.

Yard-waste drop-off
Residents may drop off yard waste, including leaves, between 6:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturdays, at the City of Elkins Wastewater Collection Plant located at 31 Jones Drive (adjacent to Robert E. Lee Avenue/Flood Control Road).

ATV Use Illegal in Elkins

Correction: The original post erroneously stated that ATV use is prohibited on city streets AND private property inside Elkins. The law only forbids ATV use on city streets. The below has been updated to correct the error.

City of Elkins is receiving complaints from residents about increased use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) inside city limits.

Remember: It is illegal to ride ATVs on Elkins streets and alleys.

There may be some confusion because of a recent change in state code. As enacted by the West Virginia legislature earlier this year, it is now legal to ride registered, inspected, “street-legal” ATVs (1) on certain state rights-of-way outside of city limits and (2) in cities that have incorporated these changes into their own laws. Elkins has not changed its laws forbidding ATV use inside city limits, so riding them on public streets remains illegal here.

Please be courteous to your neighbors and respect the law: Do not ride ATVs inside city limits. 

If you call police to report riders breaking this law in your neighborhood, remember that officers cannot issue a citation based on your report alone. Clear video or photographic evidence will make it easier for officers to take action, however.

City Hall News: Week of September 20, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., September 18, 2021: Meeting this week are council’s Personnel Committee, Finance Committee, and ad hoc Boards & Commissions Committee and Special Hiring Committee. Also meeting are the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission. Elkins Friends of Trees will host volunteers at a garden cleanup at city hall Saturday.

At its Monday, 3:15 p.m. meeting, the Elkins Sanitary Board—which oversees the city’s sewer system—will consider invoices and other financial information; a change order for the sewer/stormwater separation project; and flow meters.

The Personnel Committee meets Tuesday at 2 p.m. on an agenda that includes review of the city’s contract with AlignHR as well as various sections of the city’s personnel manual. The committee will also consider proposed changes to the personnel structure of Elkins Municipal Court and hear an update from the city’s administrative officers concerning action plans to address findings from a recent employee survey.

Tuesday, at 4 p.m. in the Darden House (next door to city hall), the Historic Landmarks Commission will hear an update from Elkins Main Street.

The Boards & Commissions Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. This committee was created to compare state and city laws concerning boards and commissions to identify and correct any discrepancies concerning membership requirements, appointment methods, term lengths, and other rules. This week, the committee will examine the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, the Elkins Planning Commission, and the Housing Authority of the City of Elkins. The committee will also review vacancies and plan training for city board and commission members.

The Finance Committee also meets Wednesday, at 10:30 a.m. The agenda includes a funding request from the Phil Gainer Community Center for funds toward installation of the new synthetic gym floor, a review of vehicle and equipment inventories, receipt of an estimate for removal of the iron signs at city entrances, consideration of utility bill mailings, and analysis of fixed asset costs.

On Wednesday at 3 p.m., the Special Hiring Committee continues to consider possible changes to the organizational structure of the Operations Department and the job description of the operations manager. The operations assistant is currently the acting operations manager after the resignation of the former incumbent earlier this month.

On Saturday, starting at 9 a.m., Elkins Friends of Trees will host a public garden maintenance and cleanup day at the Darden House and city hall.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own gloves and gardening tools if possible, but some will be available for loan during the event.

To avoid penalty, payments for utility bills and in-city fire-and-rescue fees must be received in the Treasurer’s Department no later than Monday.

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$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

Mayor Marco Invited to Complete Streets Champions Institute

In support of the Active People, Healthy Nation Initiative, Smart Growth America (SGA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity announced today that Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco will be part of the second class of the Champions Institute. The Champions Institute is a program created to help motivated local elected officials equitably define, design, build, and evaluate Complete Streets in their communities. Mayor Marco was selected as one of the many local elected officials from across the United States (and its territories).

“We are pleased to welcome Mayor Marco to the second class of the Champions Institute,” said John Robert Smith, a senior policy advisor at Smart Growth America, and the former mayor of Meridian, Mississippi. “Marco’s commitment to position their hometown to become a more accessible, equitable, and economically viable community for all residents was compelling. Experts in their field will provide the mayor with valuable skills throughout the program and share their own insights in developing more activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations.”

Over the next six months, participants in the Champions Institute will attend virtual learning sessions that will make them experts in equity-based principles and train them on the fundamental steps to take to achieve Complete Streets in their community, from envisioning to implementation. Participants will also learn about best practices and challenges from across the country, as they grapple with different strategies in a collaborative and supportive peer-learning environment.

Local leaders who are selected for the Champions Institute will have the opportunity to learn from a broad array of national experts and former local elected officials in the areas of public health, policy, street design, and project implementation. At the completion of the institute’s program champions will be experts in promoting community reforms to create safer streets for all users including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and motorists. Champions will be prepared to support plans, policies, and funding that promote the CDC’s Active People, Healthy Nation℠ Initiative of expanding activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations, in their communities.

After participants complete their work in the Champions Institute, SGA will provide continuing support to the local champions as they serve their communities. Newly minted Complete Streets Champions will act as emissaries to other local leaders, sharing their expertise and ideas to grow a network of more Complete Streets Champions across the country who will build and expand activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations across the country.

“It’s really exciting to be selected for the Champions program, because it connects directly to so many things that I’m really passionate about,” says Marco. “We want Elkins to be as walkable as possible and to be a city where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists share the streets safely. That’s key to getting people moving more and enjoying the health and mental benefits of an active lifestyle. I can’t wait to bring what I learn back to Elkins.”

This program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. This program is designed to support the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative through developing more activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations.

Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity. For more information visit www.smartgrowthamerica.org.

Active People, Healthy Nation Initiative is a national initiative led by CDC to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027. Increased physical activity can improve health, quality of life, and reduce health care costs. These improvements can help reduce the risk of at least 20 chronic diseases and conditions and provide effective treatment for many of these conditions. Other potential benefits include better school performance and improved military readiness. Building active and walkable communities can help support local economies, result in less air pollution, and create more cohesive communities. Learn more here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity protects the health of Americans at every stage of life by encouraging regular physical activity, good nutrition, and healthy weight. Through support of state and community partners, they provide data, programs that work, and practical tools so that Americans have the best possible chance to achieve healthier lives and avoid chronic diseases.


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Smart Growth America Contact: Devin Willis, dwillis@smartgrowthamerica.org

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

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