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).

City Hall News: Week of October 10, 2022

Meeting this week are council’s Public Safety Committee, ad hoc Special Hiring Committee, Rules & Ordinances Committee, ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee, and Personnel Committee. The Elkins Tree Board also meets.

The Public Safety Committee meets Monday at 10 a.m. The agenda includes one new business item: Discussion of DEP RADPP award (for demolitions of condemned properties).

On Monday at 3 p.m., the Special Hiring Committee continues its search for a new operations manager.

The Tree Board meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Agenda items include discussion of the Darden House, winter activities, the Adopt-a-Tree program, and the expiration of a member’s term.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. On the agenda are consideration of the need for changes to the regulation of animals inside city limits and the new zoning code.

The Organizational Audit Committee meets Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to continue analysis of positions in the Operations Department.

The Personnel Committee meets Thursday at 12 p.m. to continue work on the creation of a human resources position, an employee benefits proposal, and FY 2024 health insurance premiums.

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 October 3, 2022

There are no meetings scheduled for next week. The 84th Mountain State Forest Festival is underway and lasts through next Saturday.

During the week of the Mountain State Forest Festival (Monday-Friday, Oct. 3-7), all trash will be picked up on the usual days. However, Thursday and Friday trash collection will start at 5 a.m. Trash must be outside no later than 5 a.m. on Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7.

Sections of Fourth Street, Railroad Avenue, and Third Street will be closed all week for the carnival.

City hall will be closed to the public  on Friday.

On Saturday, there will be a series of parades. The Antique and Classic Street Rod Car Parade starts at 1 p.m., followed by the Special Units and Log Truck Parade at 1:15 p.m. The Grand Feature Parade, featuring the newly crowned Queen Silvia, starts at 1:30 p.m. The parades will proceed up South Davis Avenue from around Eleventh Street, turn east on Fifth Street, turn south on Randolph Avenue, and finish near the Randolph County Courthouse.

Find more festival information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/2022-forest-festival-information

Council Committee Diary: September 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 September:

  • Finance Committee: Identified funding for an engineer’s proposal to complete a Streetscape Design Plan, declined to waive fees for use of the downtown sound system to play Christmas music throughout the 2022 holiday season, and identified funds for asbestos abatement of a derelict property on River Street.
  • Municipal Properties: Discussed various matters concerning the Darden House (stained glass repair, leases for office tenants, use by outside parties for events) and the contract for the downtown flowers program. The committee also heard and declined to recommend council approval of a request for a utilities easement from the directors of the Mountain State Forest Festival. This easement would have allowed installation of an electric service pole next to the city-owned parking lot near Railroad Avenue and Third Street for use by a private company during the festival.
  • 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: Considered possible structures for a proposed human resources position, changes to method of reimbursement for employee travel, 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).
  • Planning Commission: Worked on refining definitions in the zoning code of various types of events, discussed topics for a zoning FAQ, and reviewed the process of enforcing and administering the new zoning code.
  • Public Safety Committee: Heard reports from public safety officials.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Discussed nuisance dogs, free-roaming cats, and zoning code enforcement, fees, and fines.
  • Sanitary Board: Took various personnel actions related to promotions, discussed an engineer’s needs assessment for the sewer and water systems, considered a contract for IT support, worked on policies for installation of check valves and stormwater taps, discussed next steps for the foam-filled sewer line under Randolph Avenue between Sycamore Street and Park Street (location approximate), and took final actions related to the conclusion of Bear Contracting’s work on Lavalette Avenue under warranty from last summer’s sewer/stormwater separation project.
  • Special Hiring Committee (ad hoc): (Formed to search for a new operations manager.) After interviewing six candidates, the committee made an offer to its top choice. The candidate then declined the offer, and the search process must be started over. (The job listing is here.)
  • Water Board: Considered contracts for electrical  and IT support, discussed Worth Avenue line break, worked on policy for water service tap fees.

2022 Forest Festival Information

Garbage Collection Schedule Change

During the week of the Mountain State Forest Festival (Oct. 3-7), all trash will be picked up on the usual days. However, Thursday and Friday trash collection will start at 5 a.m. Trash must be outside no later than 5 a.m. on Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7.

City Hall Closed Friday

Elkins City Hall will be closed to the public on Friday, October 7. It is otherwise a normal workday for city personnel. City hall employees can be reached via phone or email on this day. You can find a staff directory here.

Changes to Carnival Location

This year, there will be NO rides or other attractions in the city hall parking lot. The new location will be diagonally across the intersection of 4th and Railroad, in the lot behind the Railyard Restaurant.

The below map shows the basic carnival layout in red. The red rectangle shows the new location of the rides and attractions formerly in the city hall parking lot.
For more information about this year’s festival: https://www.forestfestival.com/
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Parade Route

The below map shows the approximate parade route in purple and the carnival layout in red.

For more information about this year’s festival: https://www.forestfestival.com/

Illegal Parking Near Railroad and Third

Statement from EPD Chief Travis Bennett:

EPD personnel have observed illegal, unsafe parking patterns near the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Third Street.

Drivers are reminded that, in this area, the only allowed street parking is either (1) parallel to the curb in front of the Station Square Office Complex, (2) in the angled parking spaces along the side of the Delmonte Market, or (3) parallel to the curb adjacent to the city parking lot near the Davis Trust Company. Aside from two spots reserved for tour buses on the other side of the street, parking is not allowed anywhere else on Railroad Avenue, including in the wide area of the street adjacent to the Delmonte and Station Square. Cars parked anywhere other than the designated spots cause confusion and hazards and may be ticketed and towed.

Free parking is available in the city hall parking lot, located at the intersection of Fourth Street and Railroad Avenue.

City Hall News: Week of September 26, 2022

Meeting next week are council’s Municipal Properties Committee, the Elkins Water Board, and the Elkins Planning Commission.

The Municipal Properties Committee meets in special session Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to consider a request for a utilities easement from the directors of the Mountain State Forest Festival. This easement would allow installation of an electric service pole next to the city-owned parking lot near Railroad Avenue and Third Street for use by a private company during the festival.

On Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Water Board meets on an agenda that includes contracts with Dewaine Corley/C-Com and Steve’s Electrical Service, discussion of the Worth Avenue water-line break, invoices, and tap fees.

Also meeting on Tuesday, at 7 p.m., the Planning Commission will review definitions of various types of events in the new zoning code. Commission members will also discuss items for an FAQ concerning the new law and review the processes that will be used to administer and enforce its provisions. Learn more: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning.

Third quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns will be mailed Friday. Returns must be filed by October 31.

Vintage 1930s-era Mountain State Forest Festival costumes are on temporary display at the Governor Kump House this fall. Tours of the home and other exhibits are available Sundays, 3-5 p.m., through October 23. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

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.

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