Vigilance in parks recommended


BUCKHANNON — Public Works Director Jerry Arnold addressed a matter of public service and caution during last Thursday evening’s City Council meeting. A concerning situation in the City Park was brought to Arnold’s attention through an email he received from the Buckhannon’s Information Coordinator and Grant Writer Callie Cronin Sams.

Recently, Sams and her young daughter were at the City Park playing, when she noticed a used hypodermic needle on the trail that leads through the park to Victoria Street, as reported in her email. Arnold continued to explain that he and Sams headed back to the park to inspect the entire area. They reportedly found the needle Sams had previously discovered, along with another needle near the maintenance shed. Arnold noted that the city does not have a dedicated park attendant while the parks are closed, and suggested residents should not take for granted that any playground or area is safe.  

“The reason I’m bringing this up is not to point fingers, but to simply say as a parent, do not assume any area is ever safe. With the playgrounds and the parks, be very vigilant about inspecting areas before letting your kids play,” Arnold addressed. “That could have been very tragic, and I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. So, we’ve become complacent as a society sometimes about certain areas, that it’s okay to let our kids go. Again, I can’t stress enough, please be vigilant in inspecting those areas,” Arnold urged.

Shortly after Arnold’s comments concerning the parks, Mayor David McCauley proposed the question, “Is this yet another opportunity for us to rethink the installation of security cameras with signage?” McCauley added, “We’re never going to deter completely certain activities, but I think people would think twice about some of the things they do in our parks.” Arnold responded that City Park is covered pretty well (that is, close observation speaking) except for the wooded area there. “It’s difficult to keep a natural area and surveil it as well, especially in every corner with the trees,” Arnold added, “So, that would be kind of complex, I think, to cover with video surveillance.”

In addition to Arnold’s message, Councilor Mary Albaugh brought to attention another cautionary concern.  Albaugh stated, “What are we going to do when a kid goes to the park and there’s snow on the ground and they want to make a snowball and pick up a needle? That’s pretty sad.”

“My message would be,” Arnold stated, “please be aware of what you’re letting your kids in, where you’re letting your kids play and inspect the area before you let them play.” 

In other business during the City Council meeting, Police Chief Matt Gregory mentioned that on Friday, November 1, Colin Cope graduated from the WV State Police Academy. Cope is currently participating in a 12-week training program and is assigned to Corporal Wilson and Corporal O’Conner on a rotational basis. Gregory stated, “He is assigned to three-week rotational cycles where he takes on increasing amounts of responsibility as he continues the Field Training Program.”

Chief Gregory also announced that the police department will be hosting a “Stop the Bleed” class in the Community and Training room at the Public Safety Complex on December 10.

City Attorney Thomas O’Neill presented several matters of business to the Council. O’Neill addressed the proceedings and updated status from the Sanitary Board meeting earlier that afternoon, which discussed probable preparations for the imminent Route 33 West sewer only project with word to finalize plans, but no definite agreements have been made. Discussion also ensued of both Tennerton and Hodgesville PSDs’ failure to respond and provide Petition for Injunctive Relief to Compel Response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the timely manner as required by State law.

O’Neill furthered addressed that the Knights of Pythias will be retaining counsel as the City of Buckhannon continues to pursue acquisition of the property to enable the Stockert Youth and Community Center’s expansion. According to the letter submitted by Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC’s Attorney Allison J. Ferrell (not present), she is representing the Knights of Pythias and stated that she “has been informed by Mr. Warren Debarr of the City of Buckhannon’s intention to take by eminent domain the Knights’ building located at 65 East Main Street, Buckhannon.” Several letters have been sent to the Knights from the City about their intent to purchase the property. Ferrell further mentioned in the letter, “At this time, the Knights do not wish to sell their property located at 65 East Main Street.” 

City Hall will be closed to the public Monday, December 16 due to upgrades to the computer server. City Hall will re-open Tuesday, December 17 at 8:30 a.m.

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