BUCKHANNON — All members of Buckhannon’s City Council attended their regular meeting on Thursday evening.
Before hearing reports from each department, Council was joined by the West Virginia Strawberry Festival (WVSF) Association President Shane Jenkins to confirm the dates and plan for the 2021 event. Jenkins assured Council members and the public they are focusing on “quality over quantity” as the festival was forced to downsize due to the pandemic this year.
The 79th Annual WV Strawberry Festival will take place May 8-16, with the main celebrations being held on Friday and Saturday. Because the WVSF reportedly cannot include parades or a carnival this year, vendors and food trucks will open at Jawbone Park to ensure the community still has an opportunity to celebrate the beloved festival at a smaller capacity.
Next, Public Works Director Jerry Arnold briefly reported on the status of the Public Works Department. According to Arnold, they have been working to upgrade the electric at Jawbone Park, completed the new UCDA access road on Brushy Fork, and his crews continue to work on restoration and repair projects throughout the area. Arnold added that the WVDOH has denied Buckhannon’s request to plant wildflower plots in the median of Route 33. Council members continue to work with Arnold and the WVDOH to hopefully make this project possible.
Following, Amberle Jenkins provided a brief financial report, explaining that she continues to work on the budgets for the fiscal year 2021-2022. The next General Fund budget working session will take place on March 10. She added that there will be no “Free Dump Day” in Buckhannon this year, which annually provided free waste disposal. The event was reportedly cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble then told Council that his department has started the process to become an accredited fire department. During the process, all of BFD’s services were evaluated, including the Upshur County Dive Team. The Dive Team was started in 2000 after Upshur Co. Commission received a $25,276 grant to purchase equipment and training. Since that time, the team has reportedly only received an average of two calls per year. After over 20 years, the Dive Team has depleted, and now must be dissolved as an emergency response team. BFD is hoping to sell their equipment, according to Chief Kimble.
Tom O’Neill, City Attorney, wrapped up the department reports by introducing the first reading on the construction of the Colonial Theatre Board. No action was taken at the meeting, and Council continues working with O’Neill to appoint the best individuals for the board. Council members will hear a second reading on the matter during the next City Council meeting.
Mayor Robbie Skinner concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for their hard work and dedication. Council continues to send support and prayers to Mary Albaugh, Pamela Bucklew, and Jack Reger as they continue to overcome health complications.
The next City Council meeting will take place on Thursday, March 18 in Council Chambers.