BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon City Council held a regular meeting via Facebook Live and YouTube at 7 p.m. Thursday evening.
Mayor David McCauley opened with a statement regarding the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Upshur County, as well as the second death reported in Lewis County. McCauley said they are not making new restrictions, nor relaxing any restrictions at this time. He urged that businesses keep up with extra sanitization measures and cautioned citizens not to return to normal because the pandemic is not over. McCauley also informed the public that the Crossroads Recycling Center reopens Saturday, mentioned that Walmart will be starting their online grocery service July 29, and said the Firework Exhibition is still on for July 5.
After a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance, Mitchell Shaw gave Councilors an update on plans for the future Upshur County Recreation Complex and addressed areas where they are in need of more help. Currently, they are trying to find property big enough for the facility so they can start applying for grants. Shaw asked City Council if they knew of any businesses, or if the City of Buckhannon, had funds to help out with donations. Shaw also thanked Stockert Youth and Community Center for their help, as well as the businesses who sponsored the organization and gave monetary donations to get things started.
Callie Cronin-Sams gave her report, including updates on the city’s websites, social media advertising and PSAs. She is also working on the application for CARES Act funding and the street naming contest.
Public Works Director Jerry Arnold updated on the work completed and currently in progress by the sewer crew, maintenance crew, water department and the waste pickup crew. Amberle Jenkins introduced City Hall’s new intern, Josh Trent, and reported on the finances, including invoices needing approval and several budgets. Jenkins also reported that the newly elected officials will be sworn in July 1, starting at 10 a.m.
Buckhannon Police Chief Matthew Gregory reported on a vacancy for a Patrol Officer and said they are accepting applications until the deadline on July 10. He explained further details of the hiring process, such as the minimum requirements, physical agility and written tests. Gregory also reported that Darin Hissam was promoted to Sergeant, as well as recent drug activity and arrests.
City Attorney Tom O’Neill explained the process of the housing enforcement ordinance and brought up wanting to make minor revisions to ordinance 367, such as shortening the time the city waits to take action on small infractions.
Mayor McCauley addressed the following items during Correspondence and Information: Rose Clutter’s 80th birthday, the letter to the West Virginia Culture and History requesting a grant extension that was approved, his remarks from the June 11 Water Board meeting and from the Youth Arts Exhibition at the Colonial Theater and the Racism Vigil both held on June 5, Strawberry Festival President Sandra Bennett’s thank you letter, Fish Hawk Acres Zoning Form to Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, Canvassing and Certification of Votes for the June 9 Primary, Nathan Fetty’s resignation from the Waste Collection Board, Larry Carpenter’s letter requesting to stay on the Upshur County Board of Health for a 5-year term, the Rescue Fire Pumper Apparatus Truck Bid Opening results, and the Upshur County Commission’s cat and dog activity report.
Council approved the minutes for the June 4 City Council meeting, building and wiring permits, the payment of bills and two event requests – street closure for the EMS Employee Appreciation Day and the use of Jawbone Park for 2020 Buckhannon Pridefest, both on June 27. Council also approved to close City Hall July 6 for upgrading the electrical service panel and noted that it may possibly need to stay closed until July 8.
City Council approved for Buckhannon Police Department to purchase a K-9 and get training from the Shallow Creek Kennel. Gregory announced that Sgt. William Courtney was selected for the K-9. He also explained the price and timeline for the process and training, which would expect the K-9 to start at the end of 2020.
The Council approved three documents regarding the Upshur County Development Authority Innovation Center sidewalk easements. O’Neill presented the three documents: the old lease release, the amendment redefining the easement to four feet by six feet and the quitclaim deed. Councilors also approved the application for the $10,000 West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History grant to help fund the cost of the $14,000 ADA accessible lifts in the Colonial Theater. Lastly, McCauley brought up the tentative July 2 Town Hall meeting to discuss the Madison Street Property.
The Board gave their comments at the end of the meeting. Mary Albaugh and Pamela Bucklew thanked McCauley for the support he has shown and the work he has done for the community during his term, wishing him well in future endeavors. CJ Rylands read a statement asking the community to not retaliate against or take part in the hate, like what media has shown transpiring in other areas nationwide. Robbie Skinner expressed his appreciation for Mayor McCauley as he prepares to take his place as Buckhannon’s newly elected mayor. Randall Sanders thanked McCauley and the entire Council for appointing him as Recorder and the city for voting to keep him in the position.
Mayor McCauley read his last remarks as Mayor. “My mantra during my entire time as mayor has been ‘We’re all in it together.’ I repeatedly have emphasized that all means all. Inclusivity is the morally correct thing to strive for and try to implement… It has been my great honor and privilege to serve as your mayor these past 50 months. I can tell you without a stutter or a stammer that I have given the job all I had,” McCauley said. “Of all of the attributes that we may manifest as human beings, I believe the most important one is the virtue of kindness. Please care about and be kind to each other. We truly are all in this together,” he closed. To read his full statement, visit https://buckhannonwv.org/mayor-mccauleys-closing-statement-at-buckhannon-city-council-june-18-2020/.
The regular council meeting ended with an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.
The entire City Council meeting is available to stream on the Channel 3 Buckhannon Facebook and YouTube pages. The next Buckhannon City Council meeting will be held July 2.