City Hall News: Week of June 6, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Tree Board. Also meeting are council’s Rules & Ordinances Committee and Personnel Committee. Free bulk trash pickups start Monday. The Addiction and Homelessness Task Force holds a public forum Tuesday. Overdue utility accounts must be brought up to date before Tuesday to avoid shutoff.

The new bulk pickup service for residential customers starts this week. The Sanitation Department’s grapple truck will visit a different part of the city throughout each month, starting with customers whose household trash is normally collected on Mondays. These customers may place one large bulk item (e.g., appliance, furniture, etc.) curbside by 6 a.m. Monday, although it may not be picked up until later in the week. Find the schedule for the rest of the month and other information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/bulk-pickups.

The Sanitary Board meets Monday at 1 p.m. Agenda items include a discussion about the Teaberry Hills and Sylvester Drive sewer issue and the matter of extending sewer lines up North Randolph Avenue. Burgess & Niple will present the results of its wastewater system needs assessment.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., in the Darden House (next door to city hall), the Tree Board meets to decide whether to continue its Adopt-A-Tree program this fall, plan a workday at the Kump Education Center nursery, and discuss an August gathering.

Also on Tuesday, at 6 p.m., the Addiction and Homelessness Task Force will hold a public forum at the Phil Gainer Center to provide an update on its work and take questions and suggestions.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. In addition to continuing work on a framework enabling restaurants to legally provide sidewalk seating in the public right-of-way, the committee will discuss the possibility of creating a rule imposing confidentiality on participants in council executive sessions.

The Personnel Committee meets Thursday at 12 p.m. to consider the reappointment of the city treasurer.

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.

City Hall News: Week of May 30, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Water Board and Elkins Common Council. City hall is closed Monday, in observance of Memorial Day, and trash normally collected Mondays will be collected on Tuesday, starting at 6 a.m.

The Water Board is meeting in special session Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. to review a needs assessment concerning the city’s water and wastewater systems prepared by Burgess & Niple.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda may be adjusted through Tuesday. Current new business items include various recommendations for use of ARPA funds from council’s ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee and review of proposed designs for new Elkins welcome signs. Also at this meeting, the Elkins Planning Commission will officially submit its proposed new zoning ordinance to council, commencing the final adoption process. This process will not be complete until late summer at the earliest, after two public hearings (to be announced) and other steps required by state law.

First-due area (i.e., outside city limits) Fire & Rescue Service Fee payments are due June 1st. FY2023 business license applications have been mailed out and are due by June 30th. Any outstanding B&O taxes must be paid before an FY2023 business license will be issued.

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.

Elkins Now Offering Free Bulk Pickups

Elkins residents can now dispose of furniture, appliances, and other bulk trash items monthly at no extra charge, thanks to the city’s new bulk pickup service. This service is only available to residential customers. Only one item will be accepted per month through this service.

The bulk pickup service, which relies on a new Sanitation Department grapple truck, is scheduled in connection with when household trash is collected in various parts of the city. During the first week of each month, bulk pickups will be available to households that put regular trash out on Mondays; during the second week, households that put trash out on Tuesdays and households that put trash out on Fridays; during the third week, households that put trash out on Wednesdays; and during the fourth week, households that put trash out on Thursdays.

This service starts in June and will proceed as follows during that month: where household trash is collected Mondays, bulk pickups will occur during the week of June 5; Tuesdays and Fridays, week of June 12; Wednesdays, week of June 19; Thursdays, week of June 26.  View the complete 2022 schedule here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/bulk-pickups.

On the week a given area is scheduled for bulk pickups, customers should place items curbside—even if their regular household trash is collected in an alley—no later than 6 a.m. Monday morning. The grapple truck will visit sometime that week, but not necessarily on the same day that household trash is being collected.

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.

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.

Council Committee Diary: May 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 May:

  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Recommended using ARPA funds to fund study of sewer extension along N. Randolph Avenue and replacement of a Wastewater Collection Department service truck needed to pull lift-station pumps. Miscellaneous other requests from the fire department, street department, and wastewater system.
  • Finance Committee: Recommended funding Seneca Mall parking lot renovations, a pavilion for the Kump Education Center, and a new garbage truck. Also recommended approval of the FY 2023 budgets for the Elkins Fire Department, the Landfill Fund, and the Sanitation Fund. Considered bids for the city’s property and liability insurance policies.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Identified a suitable site for placing a generator needed for the Tygart Hotel project. Considered but took no action on a proposed MOU with the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission; discussed lease agreements with Darden House office tenants; recommended cooperation with the Randolph County Development Authority to arrange for the transfer of a road near Riverbend Park to the state highway system; recommended renewing the lease on the Fraternal Order of Police lodge; reviewed proposed designs of new “Welcome to Elkins” signs.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): Ad hoc committee formed to study and recommend changes to the city’s organizational structure. First meeting was May, when procedures and scope of work were discussed.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended reclassification of a position in the Operations Department and reviewed services provided by AlignHR, the city’s human resources contractor.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended authorization to apply for a $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Grant Program to fund purchase and installation of surveillance cameras throughout downtown Elkins; recommended authorization to apply to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Worked on new laws concerning open containers, outdoor restaurant seating in city-owned rights-of-way, and deer population control.

Kump Education Center Awarded Humanities Council Grant

ELKINS – The West Virginia Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, recently announced that the Kump Education Center (KEC) is one of 18 new mini-grants recipients in its latest round of awards. The WV Humanities Council serves West Virginia through grants and direct programs in the humanities.

The $1,500 grant for “Kump House at the Crossroads,” will support the creation of new interpretive displays for the Gov. H. Guy Kump House that will focus not only on the historical significance of the site, but also the legacy of Gov. Kump, one of the most influential governors of the state.

Grant funding will also assist in a special “unveiling” weekend event, “Something Old, Something New,” that will feature Kump family wedding gowns and memorabilia as well as the new displays. The summer Open Houses are scheduled for June 25-26, 2022.

“We are pleased to receive this grant,” said Heather Biola, executive director of the Kump Education Center. “We look forward to providing more ways to share the history of this home and Gov. Kump’s political contributions. Many do not know the innovative policies he put into effect that had a positive influence on public education, state roads and easing the financial burden on WV residents hit hard by the Depression.”

An additional aspect of the project will be to have more open hours for the Kump House and encourage more visitations by students and tourist groups. “With the creation of interpretive materials, we will be able to offer a better visitor experience,” Biola said. “We appreciate the funding assistance and look forward to opening our doors more this summer.”

The Humanities Council budgets over $800,000 for grants and programs each year. A variety of grants are offered to nonprofit organizations that support educational programming. Major grants are designed for projects requesting over $1,500 and up to $20,000 and are awarded twice annually. Mini grants, designed for projects requesting $1,500 or less, are awarded four times per year. The next Humanities Council minigrant deadline is June 1 and the next major grant deadline is September 1.

For more information about the West Virginia Humanities Council grants program contact Humanities Council grants administrator Erin Riebe at (304) 346-8500 or via email at riebe@wvhumanities.org. Grant guidelines and applications are available on the Humanities Council website, www.wvhumanities.org.

Contact: Heather Biola, (304) 637-7820

Council to Fill Second Ward Vacancy

City Councilor Charles Friddle, III (Second Ward) has resigned, and council meets Wednesday at 5 p.m. to plan for identifying and appointing a Second Ward resident to fill his seat until the 2023 election.

How Council Fills Vacant Seats

The city charter stipulates that, when a council seat becomes vacant,  it “shall be filled by appointment of a qualified person by council.” The charter further states that, in addition to being qualified to vote in Elkins, “councilors shall reside in the ward to be represented at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office.” Only voting-age persons who are qualified to vote in Second Ward are, therefore, eligible to apply for this position.

A protocol adopted by council in 2016 spells out the process of filling a vacancy in more detail. As required by this protocol, council will at Wednesday’s meeting be presented with a proposed resolution officially announcing the vacancy, establishing an application period and deadline, and directing how applications may be submitted.

A draft resolution prepared for this meeting directs interested candidates to submit resumes in person/by mail to the Elkins City Clerk, 401 Davis Avenue, or electronically to jsutton@cityofelkinswv.com, no later than June 17. Qualified applications will be reviewed by the mayor and council, and interviews will be scheduled.

Interviews are performed by council and the mayor and consist of a standardized set of questions. Answers are scored by all elected officials present, and an average score is calculated.

The interview step is followed by a meeting at which council deliberates toward its top candidate. Once this candidate’s continued interest has been verified, he or she will be scheduled for appointment at the next council meeting.

Persons interested in applying are encouraged to attend council meetings, on first and third Thursdays, and to learn as much as possible about the structure of the Elkins government, which is unusual.

What Council Members Do

Elkins is chartered as a weak-mayor/strong-council system. Under this arrangement, Elkins mayors have almost no authority. Councilors have no individual authority, but, acting as a 10-person body, the council exercises virtually all executive and corporate authority over the City of Elkins.

Through majority votes by a quorum of its members, council passes laws, adopts rules, and sets policy and strategic goals. Council is responsible for adopting the annual budget and monitoring the fiscal condition of the city; councilors can be held individually liable if budgets are overspent.

Five administrative officers report to council (the city clerk, the city treasurer, the fire chief, the operations manager, and the police chief). These officers are responsible for day-to-day operating and administrative decisions for their departments.

Elkins councilors are paid $7,200 a year and can enroll in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System. Alternatively, they may forego salary and participation in the retirement system and instead join the city’s PEIA health-insurance plan. No other benefits are available to council members.

Read more about what city councilors do: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/city-clerk/elections/what-city-councilors-do.

City Hall News: Week of May 23, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Planning Commission and the Elkins Board of Zoning Appeals. Also meeting are council’s Municipal Properties Committee, ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee, ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee, and Rules & Ordinances Committee.

The Planning Commission meets virtually Monday at 1 p.m. The commission has been working since 2016 on updating the city’s zoning laws and is nearing the completion of its work. This meeting’s agenda includes review of needed amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan, review of the final proposed draft zoning ordinance, and various actions required by law to officially transmit the proposed draft zoning ordinance to council for commencement of that body’s final approval process. More: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning-update.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the Municipal Properties Committee meets on an agenda that includes discussion of where a generator needed for the Tygart Hotel project might be located in the Seneca Mall parking lot, a memorandum of understanding with the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, lease agreements for Darden House office-space tenants, and next steps on the creation of updated “Welcome to Elkins” signs.

The ARPA Advisory Committee meets Tuesday at 12 p.m. Agenda items include requests for ARPA funds to pay for a study of a sewer-line expansion along North Randolph Avenue and the replacement of a service truck for the Wastewater Collection Department. The committee will also discuss procedures for ARPA funds returned as unspent by community organizations.

The Organizational Audit Committee meets Tuesday at 1 p.m. This ad hoc committee was formed to study and recommend changes to the city’s organizational structure. At this, its first, meeting, the committee will discuss procedures and scope of work.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. On the agenda are open containers, outdoor dining, and deer population control.

The Board of Zoning Appeals meets Wednesday at 4 p.m. The board will review the current process for zoning appeals and discuss procedures for recording hearings.

The Treasurer’s Office will be closed on Thursday for a staff meeting from 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. First-due area (i.e., outside city limits) Fire & Rescue Service Fee payments are due June 1st. FY2023 business license applications have been mailed out and are due by June 30th. Any outstanding B&O taxes must be paid before a FY2023 business license will be issued.

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.

Wastewater Operators Learn Nutrient Removal

If you’ve ever seen a stream choked with green algae, you know what happens when there is too much nitrogen, phosphorous, and other nutrients in water. Agricultural runoff is one of the main causes of these “algae blooms,” but potentially problematic nutrients are also present in the wastewater effluent that is released after treatment as surface water.

To learn how to better address this issue, the Elkins Wastewater Treatment Plant recently hosted a training team from the W. Va. Environmental Training Center. The team provided WWTP operators with classroom instruction and hands-on practice in removing nutrients from treated wastewater.

As part of this training, operators learned how to test wastewater for alkalinity, ammonia, phosphorus, nitrite/nitrate, and pH. Operators also learned about oxygen reduction potential (ORP) and jar testing, a process that simulates WWTP processes at a small scale to test whether changes are needed to achieve water quality goals.

“This training was really important to my operators, because there is increasing concern in our watershed about the need for nutrient removal,” says Whitney Hymes, the chief wastewater operator for the Elkins Sanitary Board. “There are likely going to be state regulations coming soon requiring nitrogen and phosphorous removal, and so we wanted to start learning about it as soon as possible. We really appreciated the visit from ETC. They put on a great class for us.”

 

Hydrant Flushing Starts Monday

Starting Monday, Elkins Water Board employees will be opening fire hydrants to flush out city water lines. During this time, it will be normal to see unattended fire hydrants spraying water under pressure. Customers may experience temporary discoloration that should clear up within minutes or hours.

On a biannual basis, water board employees open fire hydrants to flush water lines of accumulated sediments that can cause discoloration in customers’ homes and other buildings. To flush the lines, water system workers systematically open fire hydrants and let the water flow at full force until water appears clear in a white paper cup.

This work will proceed by sections, starting at elevation on Reservoir Hill, above the Wees District, and working westward across the city. The city will use its social media channels, email alert list, and website to announce which sections of the city will be flushed each day. The information will also be supplied to the media.

After flushing is complete in each section of the city, the Elkins Fire Department will perform 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.

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 and text alerts (www.cityofelkinswv.com/emergency-text-notifications), and follow us via Facebook (www.facebook.com/elkinscityhall) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/elkinscityhall).

5/17 DOH Paving in Elkins

Starting Monday, May 16th, the W. Va. Department of Highways will be paving Harrison Ave between Scottie’s and Crazy Harry’s in Crystal Springs.
 
To minimize disruptions, crews will work overnight 6 p.m.-6 a.m. until work is completed.
 
Watch for flaggers and observe safe speeds at all times.
 
(Harrison Avenue is one of several streets inside city limits that are owned and maintained by the state, not the city.)
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