By Adam Pack
The Alderson Town Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12. With meeting opened with a 2022 year-in-review by Parks and Recreation President R.P. Honaker. “Playground equipment was installed in Municipal Park that included a heavy duty see-saw, a quad climber, a super-slide and a swing set. We now have a swing that accommodates handicapped persons as well,” said President Honaker. “It’s really neat to see the look on some of these people’s faces when they actually go on a swing.”
He also gave an overview of parks some funding sources and how they were used throughout the year. “From the 2021-2022 Arts and Recreation Grant we received $13,969 for the purchase of picnic tables, new basketball nets, a batting cage system, and one set of bleachers. These funds were spent prior to June, 2021. Under the Hunicutt Grant we received $5,000 for paving at the park, and that has been completed as of this presentation. We also received $5,000 from the Seneca Trail Grant that was for more paving at the park again. The Seneca Trail Grant paid $36,000 for refurbishing the lower concession stand at the Senior League field. Work has started but is still in progress as of this presentation.”
The work at the lower field concession will include ADA compliance work as well as refitting the restroom facilities to bring them to a higher standard and make them more vandalism-resistant. The department also received $2,750.00 from the 2023 Arts and Recreation Grant for the purchase of backstop netting.
Honaker also reviewed volunteer work in the town, including updates to some field usage schedules. “We had a volunteer clean-up day with a lot of volunteers, probably the most we’ve had in a long time. Special thanks to Dylan Carter for removing two large poplar trees without charging us at all, he was a very big help. All totaled there were probably 80 people up there that day for park clean-up. Back in March, we had a working meeting with Little League and Greater Greenbrier Softball League to try and get everyone on the same page. There are always disputes between the two in every community as to ‘who’s got the field’ and ‘who’s got this’ so we just sat them both down and put everything on the table and I don’t think we’re going to have any problems going forward, everyone came to a consensus that we’re here to take care of the kids.”
Looking ahead, Honaker informed the council that the department is in the process of making their 2023-2024 Arts and Recreation Grant requests, which include the replacement of the doors at the stone gates at Memorial Field, the purchase of new goal posts for the football field, and potentially crowning the field.
In other business, the town finalized Flat Mountain/Monroe Flood Mitigation work with the approval of the payment of that project’s final invoice. The project overran its budget by $3,553.50, bringing the total to $186,292.80. Mayor Travis Copenhaver reported that the Monroe County Commission “stepped up and went above their original $150,000 to make their contribution $167,000 to help pay that.” With overall funding for the project coming from the town of Alderson, the Monroe County Commission, and FirstEnergy, the town was able to pay the final invoice in full, closing out the project. With this payment completed the town can also begin the process of potential reimbursement by FEMA.
Meanwhile, new developments in the ongoing water lines project have led to a change at the very top of the project’s sanctioning, oversight, and regulatory landscape going forward. As of the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 in Congress, better known as The 2023 Omnibus Bill, the Environmental Protection Agency now has more funding than the Army Corps of Engineers. Due to this, the town’s water lines project must now be overseen by the E.P.A. The town amended the contract with The Thrasher Group to reflect this change, and has begun the re-submission of preliminary paperwork necessary to begin working with the E.P.A. on new water lines for the town. The council also opened and accepted a bidder for the negotiation and acquisition of easements and rights-of-way for the water lines project. West Virginia Infrastructure Services has proposed a rate of $300/negotiation, totaling $29,000 given the number of right-of-ways and easement negotiations needed. The town accepted the bid.
The Town Council also briefed the public on the process for upcoming municipal elections. Town Councilwoman and Recorder Betty Thomas explained some of the details. “This year is an election year for the Town of Alderson, and we will be holding our election on the second Tuesday in June, which this year is June 13, 2023,” said Thomas.
Positions up for election are mayor, recorder, and all seats on the Town Council. For those interested in running for office Thomas explained that, “conventions for that purpose of nominating the candidates must be held and all candidates nominated and certified by Feb. 21, 2023.” Municipal parties are the Citizen’s Party and the People’s Party, however, “any five qualified voters residing in the town of Alderson may call a convention for the purpose of nominating candidates for these offices.” Party chairman or convention organizers must give three day’s notice prior to the holding of their convention. This notice can be in newspapers, but can also be accomplished through posters displayed in prominent local places. All paperwork can be procured at Town Hall or from Betty Thomas, who can be reached at 304-573-0492.
Lastly, Mayor Copenhaver noted that the town is looking for a police officer to complete the town’s budget for police staff. The town currently pays three full-time officers despite being budgeted for four. The town would prefer an already certified officer, but as Mayor Copenhaver pointed out, “those are scarce and getting harder to come by.” With that, the council adjourned.
The Alderson Town Council meets regularly on the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. Interested parties should call 304-445-2916 to confirm time and date of meeting, as they are subject to change.