By WARREN SCOTT
WELLSBURG - City Council on Tuesday authorized City Manager Mark Henne to pursue the acquisition of property for potential development and heard of some changes to two long-time city Christmas activities.
Henne said following an executive session at Tuesday's meeting, council authorized him to enter into negotiations for a property occupied by a vacant structure. He declined to comment on the specific location, noting the purchase would go before council in open session before it could be approved.
Henne said he also will seek outside funding for the property and improvements there that would support its being used for economic development.
In recent years, funds were secured through the city and with the help of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center for environmental assessments of the former Banner Fiberboard site, now home to an Eagle Manufacturing warehouse facility, and the former Brooke Glass site.
An environmental assessment is under way at the former Mammoth Plastics/Genpak site on Charles Street using a $6,000 grant awarded through BHJ.
In other business, council heard from Eric Fithyan, the new chairman of the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce Christmas parade and new president of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club.
Fithyan told council the parade will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 29, an hour later than in recent years to encourage lighted floats, with all of Brooke County's fire chiefs invited to appear on a float as marshals in recognition of their service.
He added there also are plans to hold a school marching band competition during lightup festivities on the town square following the parade.
On a sad note, Fithyan told council because of lack of manpower and the age of many of its members, the Kiwanis Club won't be able to place luminaria along state Route 2 and the town square and near local schools and churches. The practice has been a Christmas eve tradition for the club for many years, and the decision wasn't one the club's advisory board easily reached, he said. But Fithyan said the group will continue to sell the luminaria. He noted the sale isn't a fundraiser for the group, as it normally breaks even with the luminaria's cost.
He added the club seeks businesses and others interested in placing luminaria along a section of street.
Also on Tuesday:
Council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would allow the city's police chief to seek a second job.
City Police Chief Stanley Kins earlier said he doesn't plan to seek another job but had asked for a raise. When he sought a raise prior to this year's election, when his position was on ballot, he said he is the lowest paid department head in the city and receives less than the starting wage for a city patrolman.
Council agreed to replace the liner for the city's portable ice rink at the request of 2nd Ward Councilman Paul T. Billiard. The old liner was destroyed when the ice melted last year and large cuts were left in it with skates.
Henne said city crews have used steel plates to reinforce the surface of the Skull Hollow Bridge on Pleasant Avenue near 20th Street and have paved up to it to allow a smoother ride over it. But he said the repairs are only temporary, and the city will need to find funds to replace the bridge.
City Solicitor Bill Cipriani agreed to meet with Henne to determine if Highland Avenue, a road in the city's east end, is a city street. Residents there have raised concerns about erosion along the road.