In celebrating some of West Virginia’s best artists and art supporters, the 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony, held at the Culture Center in Charleston on Mar. 13, included the Arts in Education Award; the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award; the Leadership in the Arts Award; the Artist of the Year Award; the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement; and the Legislative Leadership Award.
Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester, who was on hand to attend the ceremony, proudly announced at the City Council meeting on Tuesday that of the six award categories, four were given to Lewisburg residents: Cathey Sawyer was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award as executive director of Greenbrier Valley Theatre; Susan Adkins received the Leadership in the Arts Award as executive director at Carnegie Hall; Carnegie Hall itself was the recipient of the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award; and Senator Ron Miller received the Legislative Leadership Award for his services as a member of the WV legislature in support of the arts. Sponsored by the Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, the awards honor those who have made significant contributions to the state’s culture.
In other City business:
• The Mayor went on to say that as president of the WV Municipal League, he has been attending many state legislative sessions at the Capitol and following with interest the progress of various bills. Of the hundreds of bills before the House and Senate, he mentioned six at the Tuesday night meeting which had pertinence to Lewisburg.
– The Municipal Sales Tax bill, which he said failed to pass, would have dedicated up to one percent sales tax to municipal purposes. Many cities, Manchester said, struggle to maintain city services and that bill could have been a useful tool for financial assistance.
– A bill which did pass addressed vacant and abandoned buildings that will be a useful tool for municipalities clean up those structures.
– A bill to enforce a three-foot buffer zone on city streets for bicyclists was passed. The Mayor said he will wait to see whether that bill will include state highways or only local city streets.
– A bill which will force electric utilities to consider different options in achieving power demands and look to the least cost to their customers was also passed.
– A tracking wastes bill was passed in which the wastes would be required to go to properly designated landfills. Thanks were given to Senator Ron Miller for inserting language into the bill making sure that in karst topography areas, no tracking wastes can be stored, no matter whether the landfill is equipped to handle the tonnage, it is not safe in limestone-based topography.
– The most recent bill, called the water resources bill, which originated after the chemical spill in the Elk River in January, provides for protection plans for a second water supply source requirement for every municipality. The Mayor said a feasibility study must be done since the required volume of water was potentially a threat to water supplies.
• City Council is looking at relocating the solar electric photovoltaic system, originally planned for the roof of City Hall, to be sited at the City’s Public Works area instead. Bids on the project will be received in the months ahead. The solar electric timers which will fund the project received a good response from the public at The Spring a few weeks ago where Dan Conant of Solar Hollar gave a presentation.
• Zoning and Planning Officer Tony Hinkle stated an amendment to an ordinance has been drawn up allowing tents as a permissible commercial accessory to a business so long as it is compatible with the primary use of that business. The use permit is temporary, and not to exceed a period of six months.
• Two new city employees were present and introduced – Chuck Smith as the new Planning and Zoning Officer, who will replace Tony Hinkle, and Ray Still as the City’s new Building Inspector. Thanks were heaped upon Hinkle for his year of outstanding service to the City.
• Council member Joseph Lutz, chair of the Public Safety Commission, stated emergency alert information can be supplied for those with special needs with a call to the Greenbrier County’s 9-1-1 emergency alert system, so when emergency situation arises, the county can keep them informed. He said forms are also available at City Hall, and more information will be forthcoming to city residents as an enclosure with their water bills. Reviewing the 2012 Super Derecho event in which all systems were shut down, Lutz was keen to determine what services the City can supply to fill in the gaps in the county’s services, and to communicate that information to the public.
• Council member Josh Baldwin reported that a dog park presentation was made to the Parks Commission by a large contingent of dog owners who want a dog park within walking distance of most Lewisburg residents. The commission will inventory available sites.
• From the Finance Commission, Baldwin reported a recommendation to raise the building permit fee for the first time since the fee was instituted from $3 to $6. The City C