By Sarah Richardson
Lewisburg City Council met Tuesday, Feb. 15, to discuss adding an additional police officer to the Lewisburg Police Department, formally recognize the 2021 Volunteer of the Year, change the starting time for future council meetings, and approve the final plat for the new Starbucks location.
The meeting began with a discussion on changing the start time of Council meetings to be consistent with Finance Committee meetings. Currently, the Finance Committee meets at 7 p.m., and Council meets the following week at 7:30 p.m. Councilmembers floated the idea of having both meetings start at 7 p.m. to avoid any confusion on the start times between the two. With all in favor, the motion passed, and Lewisburg City Council will now convene each third Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lewisburg City Hall.
Mayor Beverly White again announced that the 2021 Volunteer of the Year is the Greater Greenbrier COVID-19 Task Force, who also received the 2020 Volunteer of the Year award. The Council had been waiting to present the award to a representative of the task force. Greenbrier County Health Department employee Tia Humphreys, a member of the task force, accepted the award.
“I’m representing a whole lot of people that aren’t here,” Pritt said. “Every week, sometimes three times a week, for two years now, we’ve all met together and put together everything, and I’m honored to be the person that’s here tonight with you all. I want to thank everyone in the community for their support.”
City Manager Misty Hill said she has been continuously working on the new water plant project, which will be going out to pre-bid on Mar. 3, and bids opening on Mar. 22. “That’s really exciting, and we still have a lot to do,” she said. “We’re not knocking down the door that we’re going to have water plant construction anytime soon, but we are going to go out to bid just to see what the change in expense is from what we predicted in 2019 and where we are at now, and what we need to strive to work towards.”
Hill said that she has also been working with Lewisburg Fire Chief Joey Thomas and the Thrasher Engineering Group on planning of the new fire station building. The new station will be located off of Grand Avenue, across from Lewisburg Cinema 8. “We finished the development, now we are just back to working on the numbers and seeing where we are at, and how large of a building he needs to get things by.” She noted that “it’s grown just a smidge.”
She also reported that the city is working on the possibility of placing a dog park at Dorie Miller, and she is working with the parks department on options for this plan.
Finance Committee Chair Aaron Seams said there is a request to add a police officer position to the Lewisburg Police Department. “Due to the ongoing rise of calls for service from Lewisburg’s Police Department, we’ve definitely seen a need to expand our police department and add an officer,” he said. Despite there being a “small decrease in calls” throughout the pandemic, the trend has been an overall increase in calls. The addition of another officer will allow the police department to have two fully-staffed shifts, and two officers always on patrol. Seams reports that the first-year impact of adding an officer is $146,637.36, with almost half of that expense stemming from providing a cruiser. Following years will carry a budget impact of $72,360.36. Councilmember John Little noted that, “In 2012 the call numbers were 996, and in 2021 were 2,711. That’s almost a threefold increase in calls over a nine-year period.”
In other news:
- Planning and Zoning Officer Marsha Cunningham said that the Planning Commission approved the final plat plans for the new Starbucks at Wal-Mart. There were no changes from the initial plan. She also updated the commission on a sewer line extension project for the Rolling Hills and Brush Road areas. There will be an addition of four pump stations to serve the areas, with conditions that the construction crews “put anything back that they disturb as good as, if not better, than what it was in the beginning before they started tearing it up,” and that there will be decorative landscaping around the stations for beautification.
- Police Chief Chris Teubert announced that Justin Deeds will be joining the department this month. He comes to the force with a year and a half of experience. “We are happy to have him,” said Chief Teubert.