BUCKHANNON — Thursday evening’s City Council meeting began with the recognition of Jacob Garrison, Buckhannon Police Department’s new officer. Garrison is from Fairmont, West Virginia and comes from a military family. “I wanted to change up the family tree and start a new path for myself,” explained Garrison. He expressed his love for the City of Buckhannon, and his eagerness to help its citizens. BPD Chief Matthew Gregory joined Mayor Robbie Skinner to swear in the new officer.
Next, Laura Ward, Executive Director of Country Roads Transit, presented her annual report to the Council members. Ward explained that following the interruption of COVID-19, Country Roads Transit numbers decreased by 21%. She assured, “We continue to look for unmet transit needs in our area.” Her report also indicated that there are many veterans in need of transport to Clarksburg, as well as multiple St. Joseph’s patients who need assistance getting to appointments at the hospital. Country Roads was accordingly approved for an additional vehicle, and an additional route to the Clarksburg medical area to provide local patients with transportation to their appointments.
Callie Cronin-Sams, Grant Researcher and Information Coordinator, then reminded the Council and the public that this is the last weekend to visit Deanna Gillum’s art exhibit at the Colonial Theatre. She also mentioned working together with City Recorder Randy Sanders to apply for a grant for the 2023 World Marching Band competition to be held in Buckhannon.
Following, Public Works Director Jerry Arnold reported that several crews continue to work on repair and restoration projects to better the City of Buckhannon. Arnold also inquired about the construction of a new internet tower in Upshur County. He said the Public Works Dept. would be interested in using a space on the tower to install an antenna that would allow for radio communications within the department. His request will be further discussed in the next City Council meeting.
Next, Amberle Jenkins gave a brief Finance report. She continues to work with supervisors to put together a draft of the ‘General Funds’ budget to present to the Council in the near future. Jenkins is also putting together information to do a presentation for the 2021 Leadership Academy on February 10.
Chief J.B. Kimble then provided the Council with a detailed call list from the Buckhannon Fire Department. Kimble recognized his experience four weeks ago when an 11-year-old girl administered CPR on her grandfather who went into cardiac arrest, ultimately saving his life. In addition, he included a budget report that will be included in the General Funds report. Kimble also announced that 13 members of the BFD have been fully vaccinated, while an additional three await their second dose.
Continuing to Correspondence and Information, Mayor Skinner began by announcing that Buckhannon did not receive the grant for the 2020 AML Pilot Program to extend the Riverwalk Trail and the SYCC Trailhead Recreation Center. The Mayor also alluded to the 2022 Grant Application for the Cultural Facilities & Capital Resources Program for the Colonial Theatre Renovation, which is reportedly in its final phase.
Arnold then returned to discuss the tower construction and cell extension for the city. Two different companies provided quotes outlining the expenses of the expansion. After discussing both options, Mayor Skinner suggested further discussion of the quotes and details at the budget meeting next week, to which Council agreed.
Members of City Council concluded the meeting with personal comments and expressed their gratitude towards each other and towards department representatives for their hard work and time. Mayor Skinner finished by asking everyone to keep Councilman Jack Reger in their thoughts and prayers. Concerning the virus, he urged, “Don’t let up on the guidelines that were set forth; this thing is not over.”
The next regular City Council meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on February 18.