BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon City Council held a regular meeting in person at City Hall on Thursday evening. Members of the community were welcome to attend by calling in, visiting in person with required masks, or livestreaming the meeting on the Channel 3 Buckhannon YouTube and Facebook pages.
Larry Carter visited the Council to ask if they would review and possibly amend Ordinance No. 301 to allow responsible ATV riders on city streets. He explained that since the Ordinance was passed in 2001, “There’s been giant strides made in the safety and operation of ATVs.” Carter referenced the State of West Virginia’s plan to make ATVs street legal and wants to see Buckhannon follow suit.
The discussion included responsible vs. irresponsible drivers, the consequences of irresponsible driving, and what an ATV must include to become street legal. Carter explained a street legal ATV includes horns, safety equipment, headlights, tail lamps, mufflers, speedometers that illuminate at night, blinker and braking systems, as well as a parking brake. They have to be insured, licensed, registered and inspected, just like a car and motorcycle in order to be street legal, according to Carter. If the vehicle is made for more than one person, it has to have adequate seating for the passenger. Carter stated that he and other responsible ATV riders would appreciate an amendment, so they can ride through town on them instead of loading them onto a trailer for transport.
City Attorney Tom O’Neill added to the discussion, explaining that Senate Bill 690 that was introduced on February 4 still allows the City of Buckhannon to keep Ordinance 301. After further discussion, Councilors agreed to review the Ordinance, but added they would like to hear input from first responders as well.
Henry Philips, representing Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Council, addressed City Council to discuss the possibilities for a Homecoming Parade and pep rally on September 23. He explained that the Student Council would limit parade participants to only the Homecoming Court, B-UHS fall teams, band and two students from each class carrying a banner. He also suggested that Homecoming Court members could ride in their own vehicles, parade spectators could be limited to parents of parade participants, and all attendees would be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
O’Neil expressed concern that even with proper guidelines, would this be a lawful activity that complied with Governor Jim Justice’s Executive Order 51-20, which is still in place. He explained that a prospective pep rally at Jawbone Park could fall under Section 1C4’s “Prohibited Activities,” and questioned the eligibility of a parade. He then reminded that City Council has already declined other outdoor gatherings and parade permits due to COVID-19, but still suggested they should look into what other counties are doing for Homecoming parades.
Council members tabled their decision on the event request until they can meet with the Upshur County Board of Education for further discussion and invited Philips back for the next meeting. Philips mentioned that if approved, the application would also need final approval from the Department of Highways to close down Main Street.
Dr. Joseph Reed visited the meeting on behalf of CREATE Buckhannon seeking support of a new Leadership Academy. Council approved of the idea, and Reed said there will be more details to come. He also proposed a City vs. County recycling contest for pop cans and bottles. He suggested proceeds from the collections of the county would go towards the Youth Camp and the city’s would go to Stockert Youth and Community Center.
Finally, Reed passed out cards to those in attendance at the meeting that stated, “Thanks for YOUR Public Health Contribution: Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition and Buckhannon Medical Clinic” and the other side read, “THANKS FOR - Wearing a mask, - Getting a flu shot, - Taking a COVID-19 Immunization (when available), - Keeping immunizations current for you and your children, and - Not smoking or vaping.”
After giving her regular financial report on bills, current balances, revenues and expenses, Finance Director Amberle Jenkins explained the details of the Resolution 2020-10 Budget Revision for a FEMA generator grant, which the council approved unanimously.
Continuing board reports, Information Coordinator and Grant Researcher Callie Cronin-Sams gave her report on social media posts, specifically mentioning sharing COVID-related updates from the U-B Health Department. She mentioned her progress on grants for the City Hall roof project and CARES Act reimbursement for August. She reminded attendees that City Hall will be closed, and trash collection will be one day late due to Labor Day on Monday. Finally, in promotion of September as National Preparedness Month, Cronin-Sams encouraged residents to make an emergency plan for their family. For more information, visit http://buckhannonwv.org/volunteer/.
Public Works Director Jerry Arnold gave an update on the Gateway West Project and stated he is working on a project on N. Spring Street for spring of 2021. The Spring Street project will include Sewer, Storm Water, Water and Street departments. The new project would postpone the completion of the N. Kanawha Street project until spring of 2022.
Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble reported on July’s response rates, incident and injury reports, the 39 COVID-19 tests administered, as well as inspections and updating both their radio systems and guidelines. He also announced the recent promotions of John Brugnoli and Tanner Smith, promoted to Fire Fighter First Class, and Brian Chidester, promoted to Lieutenant. Kimble then further explained the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department’s Letter of Request for the Buckhannon Fire Department to be paged and added to first due structure fires. He elaborated that the shortage of volunteer firefighters has taken a toll on departments and to be called first will help the Banks District department, especially during critical times.
Mayor Robbie Skinner addressed the following items during Correspondence and Information: Revised City of Buckhannon’s Event Request form approved by the CPWB (Consolidated Public Works Board) on August 27, 2020; WV Municipal League Annual Conference on September 22-24, 2020 on a virtual platform; the FOIA Requests for PFFB&P (Pullin, Fowler, Flannigan, Brown & Poe) Attorneys at Law for G. Bradley’s Buckhannon Police Department Case File and for the Law Office of Abigail Benjamin for R. Sanders’s City Election Campaign Financial Statements; Upshur County Commission July 2020’s report of cat and dog activity; the Proclamation for Constitution Week from September 17 through 23, 2020; the Annual Free Paper Shred Event on September 12, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Crossroads Recycling Center; and Banks District Volunteer Fire Department’s Letter of Request.
Council approved the building and wiring permits and the payment of bills. Before the council approved it, Mayor Skinner addressed and clarified an edit in the August 20 City Council meeting minutes, explaining a change regarding Upshur Development Authority’s presentation. Council also approved the Police Civil Service Commission’s list of Al Laroussi, Joshua Michael Crites and James Adam Fisher to be added to the list of eligibles for hire. Finally, they continued to discuss and approve the City of Buckhannon Board Appointments and Committees for FY 2020-2021. For Stockert Youth Center, the vote passed with five supporting and one objecting, and for the Historic Landmarks Commission, the vote passed unanimously.
Before adjourning, City Councilors gave their reports. Mary Albaugh thanked all for a good meeting. Pamela Bucklew expressed her appreciation for the railroad tracks. She also asked citizens of Buckhannon to not relax their efforts on wearing masks indoors and in public. CJ Rylands appreciated Carter’s appointment and strived to start working on the ADA fishing pier and a River Walk extension from City Hall to Factory Street projects. David Thomas requested to start communicating with the County Commission for partnership on several issues, and community feedback on Suddenlink frustrations. Jack Reger stated that after going around various departments, they need upgrades and improvements. Randall Sanders reported that he submitted the World Association of Marching Show Bands bid and received positive remarks on the application, but added that the decision will not be announced until later this year. He then thanked Cronin-Sams for her recycling brochure design explaining the dos and don’ts of recycling, especially after the closure of the Crossroads Center. Mayor Skinner added to his comment, asking citizens to utilize recycling services correctly.
The next Buckhannon City Council meeting will be held on Thursday, September 17.