EPD Advice for Halloween Safety

EPD Chief Travis Bennett offers the following safety tips for safe trick-or-treating this Halloween. In Elkins, by longstanding council resolution, trick-or-treating is observed every year on Halloween (Oct. 31), 6:30-8 p.m.

Halloween is a fun holiday but it does pose a few safety risks. Fortunately, some simple precautions can make sure everyone has a fun time and makes it home in one piece. Regarding costumes, please make sure you choose a costume that the label says is “flame resistant.” It’s also important to remember visibility. If your child is wearing a dark-colored costume, you should add some strips of reflective tape so drivers can see them. Make sure children’s masks don’t obscure their own vision so they can see cars coming.

For drivers, my advice is to stay off the road if possible on Halloween evening. If you have to go out, drive at a reduced speed and keep a sharp eye out. There are going to be a lot of excited children who might run across streets unexpectedly, and unfortunately not everyone is going to follow the advice to use reflective tape. Think about how you would feel if you caused another family’s Halloween to end in tragedy.

Parents, make sure your children know not to eat any of their candy until you get a chance to look at it. Don’t consume homemade treats from anyone you don’t know personally, and throw away candy that looks like it has been tampered with. Finally, keep in mind that nationwide there have been reports of children accidentally ingesting substances like fentanyl, THC, and other controlled substances because these are sometimes manufactured into pill or gummy forms that resemble candy. If you’re not sure about something, throw it out–you’ll still have plenty of candy to enjoy, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

 

Council Committee Diary: October 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from October:

  • Municipal Properties: Discussed the condition of tree grates and heard a proposal for purchase of ash bins for cigarette disposal.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): (Formed to identify opportunities to further strengthen the city’s organizational structure.) Worked on changes to the job descriptions of the operations assistant and the operations administrative assistant.
  • Personnel Committee: Continued work on possible structures for a proposed human resources position, an employee benefits proposal, and what to do about anticipated increases in health insurance premiums during the 2024 fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2023).
  • Public Safety Committee: Discussed next steps after notification of pending award of $300,000 for demolition of condemned properties under the state program established during the 2022 legislative session.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Recommended to council ordinances revising city laws concerning nuisance animal noise and certain definitions in the 2022 zoning code.

Garman Bequest Funds New Rubber Mulch for City Park

Delivery was taken of 48,000 pounds of rubber mulch at City Park today. This is the first of two shipments of mulch, for a total of 96,000 pounds, that will be installed in all of City Park’s playground and swing-set areas for increased safety and added visual appeal. The purchase of this mulch, at a cost of $22,672, was funded through a bequest in the will of Donald Garmer.

The bequest funds are restricted by the terms of Mr. Garmer’s will for use in City Park, but the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission has already authorized the purchase of additional rubber mulch for all playgrounds throughout the Elkins park system using ARPA funds. The mulch for the other playgrounds will be ordered after installation of the City Park mulch, so that EPRC officials can verify the accuracy of their estimates concerning the needed amounts.

After the second shipment of mulch for City Park arrives, and before installation can begin, the site must be prepared. A contractor will use heavy equipment to remove the old mulch and dig out the areas to a uniform depth. Excavation using hand tools will be necessary close to play equipment and swing sets. Landscaping fabric must also be put in place before the mulch can be added.

EPRC has already committed Garmer bequest funds for replacement of all exterior lighting in City Park, installation of tamper-proof covers on exterior breaker boxes and control panels, sign replacement, resealing the basketball court, resealing the old tennis court and lining it for pickleball and cornhole, and repairing a broken beam on the large pavilion. Possible future projects, the viability of which will depend on the cost and availability of materials, include replacement and repair of playground equipment (including new accessibility swings), pavilion roof replacements, extensive building repairs, security cameras, purchase of tools, upgrades to restroom fixtures, accessible playground structures, an ADA-accessible water fountain with dog bowl, and more.

The City of Elkins Street Department assisted in moving today’s shipment of 24 1-ton bundles of mulch from a staging area provided by the U.S. Forest Service on the grounds of the Monongahela National Forest Headquarters.

City Hall News: Week of Oct. 24, 2022

The only governing body meeting this week is the Elkins Water Board. An interactive economic-development workshop will be offered Monday evening.

Today (Sunday) is the last day of the Forest Festival Mountain Memories exhibit at the Governor Kump House, 3-5 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

On Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Phil Gainer Community Center, the public is invited to a free workshop hosted by Smart Growth America to envision strategies for effective economic development in Elkins. Attendees will learn about promising data-based directions for this city, hear examples from similar communities, and share ideas. More information: www.cityofelkinswv.com/public-invited-to-smart-growth-workshop-monday.

The Water Board meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. Agenda items include an engineer’s presentation of a needs assessment for the city’s water system and a discussion of the employee uniform contract.

Third quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns are due to the Treasurer’s Department by October 31.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

Bulk Pickups Schedule Change

Now also available for business customers

In response to public feedback, the schedule for free monthly pickup of bulk trash items has been simplified. The program, which was originally restricted to residential customers, is now open to business customers, as well. This program replaces annual Spring Cleanup, which will no longer be offered.

Under this program, residential and business customers may dispose of furniture, appliances, and other bulk trash items monthly at no extra charge. Only one item will be accepted per month from each address through this service.

Free bulk-item pickups are provided once per month. The schedule for free bulk-item pickups is based on the day your regular trash is picked up each week. Please consult the table below.

To take advantage of this service, place ONE ITEM for bulk pickup CURBSIDE no later than 6 a.m. on the day indicated below. Items must be placed curbside even if your household trash is normally picked up in an alley. Items may not always be collected on the given day.

Weekly Trash PickupMonthly Bulk Item Pickup
MondaysFirst Monday
TuesdaysSecond Tuesday
WednesdaysThird Wednesday
ThursdaysFourth Thursday
FridaysFourth Friday

Acceptable materials for bulk pickups include furniture, appliances, and other large household items. We cannot accept yard waste, chemicals and hazardous materials, or building materials and demolition waste.

Again, this service replaces the annual Spring Cleanup. Bulk pickups are a separate program from special pickups, which are scheduled at customer request, may be used to dispose of multiple items, and incur fees.

For more information about this program: www.cityofelkinswv.com/bulk-pickups.

Contact the Operations Department with any questions: 304-636-1414, ext. 1437 | spoe@cityofelkinswv.com.

Public Invited to Smart Growth Workshop Monday

City of Elkins is working with Smart Growth America to envision strategies for effective economic development for our community–and public participation is crucial. The public is invited to an interactive workshop to learn more about promising directions for Elkins, hear about interesting examples from other similar communities, and to share ideas. The workshop will be held on Monday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Phil Gainer Community Center.

During the workshop, Smart Growth America will present data it has collected about the city’s current development patterns, community fiscal health, and promising next steps. City officials and leaders from a variety of public organizations and private businesses will attend other sessions with Smart Growth America representatives to provide insight on specific challenges and opportunities. Workshop attendees will also learn about concrete examples from successful communities similar to Elkins. The goal: a plan to further strengthen and improve Elkins through place-based economic development strategies and catalytic projects.

From the Smart Growth America website:

What is Smart Growth America?

Smart Growth America advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods. The organization works toward smart growth solutions that support thriving businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around, and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store. The coalition works with communities to counter sprawl and look for opportunities to save money.

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.

Smart investments and common sense solutions

Smart Growth America advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods. We believe smart growth solutions support thriving businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store. Our coalition works with communities to fight sprawl and save money. We are improving lives by improving communities.

Making communities work for everyone

At the heart of the American dream is the simple hope that each of us can choose to live in a neighborhood that’s beautiful, affordable, and in which it’s easy to get around. We want to create healthy communities with strong local businesses, schools and shops nearby, transportation options and jobs that pay well.

Smart growth strategies help make these dreams a reality. Smart growth is about creating local jobs and protecting the environment. It is about being able to safely walk to a park close by. It is about spending less time in traffic and more time doing what’s important to you.

Wolfe Was Long-Serving Supervisor of Elkins Sewer System

Michael Wolfe, a long-serving and well-respected former Elkins Sanitary Board employee, died on October 5.

Wolfe, 66 at the time of his death, retired in 2021 as the chief operator of the Elkins Wastewater System. His retirement capped 20 years of public service in Elkins. Wolfe began his career in wastewater treatment in Belington, following earlier positions as a truck driver and construction worker. He was also a farmer and volunteered as a youth basketball and baseball coach.

Mike Currence, who recently retired as head of the Wastewater Collection Department and is now consulting for the Sanitary Board, remembers Wolfe as an excellent supervisor who showed a strong commitment not only to his work but to his family.

“I worked under Mike for 3 years, and he was always good to work for and work with,” says Currence. “He reminded you of the typical ‘good old country boy.’ He never wanted anything fancy and just desired the necessities. He was a family man through and through and cherished his family more than anything.”

According to Whitney Hymes, the current chief operator of the Elkins wastewater system, Wolfe was an expert in his field and never hesitated to share his knowledge.

“Not only could Mike fix anything, but he had a gift for teaching others,” says Hymes. “He was always willing to explain things and would take as long as necessary to help you understand.”

Wolfe was a gifted problem solver whose mechanical knowledge and ability to innovate helped the system avoid the expense of retaining outside assistance.

“Mike actually designed a lot of the operational equipment at the plant,” says Hymes. “He was so familiar with the way everything worked, he would often come up with ways to improve a piece of equipment to make it work even better. He could perform a lot of repairs and installations himself, so that saved our customers quite a bit of money. We are still using a lot of structures and equipment that Mike designed himself.”

Hymes notes that Wolfe was often contacted by personnel from other wastewater systems for advice and was twice recognized by the West Virginia Rural Water Association as the state’s Wastewater Operator of the Year. She remembers him as the strong backbone of a high-functioning department.

“Mike was patient and easy to work with,” says Hymes. “If we ever needed anything, he was always there for us.”

 

City of Elkins Awarded $50,000 for Trail Planning from ARC POWER Initiative

Funds EAST Trail Master Plan for bike-optimized trails throughout Randolph County

City of Elkins, part of a collaborative known as Elkins Area Shared Trails (EAST), has been awarded $50,000 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a project to develop a plan and blueprint for bike-optimized trails on five properties throughout Randolph County.

The EAST Trail Master Plan will also survey up to 10 miles of trail and conduct preliminary site planning for a community bike-skills area to build the region’s outdoor tourism economy. The goal of the project is to lay the groundwork for a network of multi-purpose trails to capitalize on the strong cycling and outdoor recreation culture of the nearby Mon National Forest.

The EAST Collaborative, which also includes the West Virginia University Brad & Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Davis & Elkins College, Davis Health System, and others, hopes that the creation of a master trail plan for the Randolph County area will serve as a pilot project and shared learning opportunity for the 11 other communities that are, like Elkins, part of the Mon Forest Towns Partnership. The partnership plans to share its experience with the wider community by August 2023.

This award is part of a recently announced nearly $47 million package supporting 52 projects in 181 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. This is the largest single POWER awards package to date since the initiative launched in 2015.

“Our coal-impacted communities are a vital part of Appalachia’s 13 states and 423 counties—when our coal communities thrive, our entire region is uplifted,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “This latest round of POWER grant funding will not only help struggling coal communities to once again compete in a global marketplace, but also expand support for the creation of new jobs through growing Appalachia’s food economy.”

“City of Elkins and its partners in the EAST collaborative know that robust outdoor recreation infrastructure and opportunities are a key driver of economic development and population growth in communities like ours,” said Jessica Sutton, the Elkins city clerk and the city’s representative on the collaborative. “The trail planning that our ARC POWER Initiative grant award will fund is a significant step forward in attracting new residents, new businesses, and new investment to our community.”

Including today’s award package, ARC has invested nearly $366.6 million in 447 projects impacting 360 coal-impacted counties since POWER was established in 2015. A new evaluation conducted by Chamberlain/Dunn indicates that a majority of POWER projects met or exceeded output and outcome targets, with ARC’s investments projected to have helped create or retain more than 39,600 jobs and prepare over 100,000 workers and students for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, broadband, tourism, and other growing industries.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

City Hall News: Week of Oct. 17, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Sanitary Board, the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. Also meeting is council’s Municipal Properties Committee. Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Sanitary Board meets Monday at 10 a.m. There are two new business items on the agenda: sewer system invoices and purchase of a utility bed/crane. The board is also still working on the Teaberry Hills and Sylvester Drive sewer issue, North Randolph Avenue sewer extension, the water/wastewater needs assessment, a contract with Dewaine Corley/C-Com, and the foam-filled sewer line under Randolph Avenue.

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. to continue discussion of leases and a new location for meetings.

The Municipal Properties Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. to discuss tree grates and ash bins.

The Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission meets at the Phil Gainer Community Center Wednesday at 5 p.m. The agenda is not yet posted.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda is not yet final and may be adjusted through Tuesday. Known items include memoranda of understanding with the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office to participate in several opioid-related cases and their eventual settlements as a non-litigating local government, consideration of a request for an easement to allow Gambill Entertainment to install a permanent utility pole on city property, consideration of a request to waive bidding requirements for a truck for the Street Department, and first readings of one ordinance to amend the new zoning code and one to regulate nuisance animal noise.

At Thursday’s council meeting, there will also be presentation from Woodlands Development & Lending and Envision Elkins.

The schedule for the free monthly bulk pickups program is changing this week. Learn more: www.cityofelkinswv.com/bulk-pickups.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

2022 Leaf Pickups Begin Oct. 17

Leaf pick up begins Monday, October 17, 2022 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.

Customers are encouraged to bag their leaves. We can usually collect 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).

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