By Sarah Richardson
Lewisburg City Council met last week to discuss the leasing of a bucket truck for the Public Works department, approve pay requests for both the water system improvement project and new Public Works building, review invoices for an HVAC replacement project for Council chambers, and to hear a “state of the city” year review for 2023 from the city manager.
Taking up much of the start of the Council meeting was a discussion regarding the leasing of a bucket truck for the City. “This is a vehicle that we use every day,” said City Manager Misty Hill, “We use it at the water plant, with water distribution, streets, parks, this is a vehicle that is a heavily used vehicle.” The current bucket truck used by the City is from 1997, and “we’ve been budgeting for this for roughly two to three years,” said Hill. After much discussion, Council motioned to “lock in” a rate for the truck lease and starts the building of the truck, which will take a maximum of two years.
Resolution 541 and Resolution 542, authorizing project pay requests for the water system improvement project and public works building, respectively, were both approved unanimously.
City Manager Hill then gave a report highlighting some of the major projects and issues dealt with by the City throughout 2023. The implementing of a one percent sales tax as of July 1, 2023, was first mentioned. “This took several, several attempts with Home Rule before we were approved,” said Hill. She mentioned a slew of projects completed last year at city parks, including securing replacement lighting for both Dorie Miller and Hollowell Parks, and light replacements at the Little League field from 25-foot wooden poles to 75-foot metal poles thanks to a $60,000 grant from the county and secondary grant for the rest of the cost. Building the pickleball viewing stands at the pickleball courts was also a popular project completed early last year.
Securing a grant to replace the Lafayette Street sidewalk downtown was another major hurdle, as it had been in motion for some time with no progress. “There’s a lot of components with Lafayette, it’s not just replacing the sidewalk, it’s also stormwater, it’s repaving that area. There’s actually going to be some green spaces built into that, so the DOH, the state, has that bid and started construction in October, and they have until June to complete that project,” explained Hill.
With beautification, the City ordered new Christmas lights for 2023, as the old ones went out just several days after the holiday the year before. They also installed string lights in the alley beside the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that will stay up year-round. The first “Chills in the Hills” festival, a collaboration with the downtown businesses and the city, saw expanded fall decorations throughout town this last autumn.
The total amount spent by the City on all festival and parades downtown, including the Chocolate Festival, TOOT, the Christmas parade, and others, came with a grand total of over $88,000 in expenses. “This is in the beautification budget,” said Hill.
The Public Works department received a new plow truck, just in time for the winter weather, and the new Public Works building on Stonehouse Road should be completed and ready to move into this spring. In 2023, the City also started the new water plant project, and the water system improvement project. Hill stated that there were eight boil water advisories for the City in 2023, totaling 23 days with these advisories. “This is not 23 days without water, but 23 days with advisories,” Hill clarified. She emphasized the importance of the new water plant and its water pumping capabilities that will benefit the City and will lessen these advisories. An emotional Hill said that, “A lot of time and effort goes into this project every day.”
Hill reports that the MyLewisburg app launch has been a resource for residents wanting to stay up-to-date with advisories and other announcements from the City, and she encourages everyone to download the app to their smartphones as another way to receive information regarding City happenings. Search for “MyLewisburg” in your app store to download. Mayor Beverly White added that if the City is not calling you during boil water advisories, to please reach out to City Hall and make sure that your contact information is correct.
“It’s wonderful to see all [of this information] together,” said Councilmember John Little. “I think it’s important for the citizens to see all of what is going on in the City and what happens here.”
In other news:
- A task order for a “kayak launch design” from Chapman Technical Group was presented and approved unanimously by Council. This order allows Chapman Technical to begin designing the launch at the Hopper Greenbrier River Trail access.
- An invoice to Total Tech for an HVAC replacement for City Council chambers in the amount of $19,810.06 was approved unanimously.
- Fire Chief Joey Thomas reports that there has been an increase of over 60 percent in calls to the fire department from 2014 through 2022, and he believes that his department has answered more calls this last year than the year before.