By Lyra Bordelon
The Ronceverte City Council celebrated Make It Shine Day, looked to expand park access for nonverbal residents, addressed a stalled sewer project, and looked into a fire report during their Monday, May 3 meeting. This is in addition to the city’s ongoing water issues, which were covered by the Mountain Messenger this week in “Massive complications arise with massive water infrastructure project in Ronceverte.”
A successful Make it Shine day was held in Ronceverte on Saturday, May 1.
“I wanted to thank everyone that showed up to Make It Shine,” said Councilmember Kathy King. “That was Saturday. Even with everything that was going on with the water leaks and the dust, the town looks good. I appreciate all the volunteers that showed up and the volunteers that showed up for the water.”
City Administrator Pam Mentz also added “I would also like to thank WVSOM. They contributed the supplies we had, they came from Terri Baker. She set it up and all the supplies we got came from her, the organization. We stored and saved them so we have more the next year. I’m very appreciative.”
Mayor David Smith also thanked everyone for assisting.
“The number of folks that showed up willing to help out was terrific,” Smith said. “It was really heartwarming to know that a number of folks, a lot of them that did not live in Ronceverte but had a heart for Ronceverte, did come. We really do appreciate that. Thank you to the RDC and Friends of Ronceverte for making that happen.”
Though Make It Shine might have helped get it in shape, Island Park will soon be receiving another upgrade. Previously, Ashley Guet approached Parks and Recreation with a request for a nonverbal communication board on behalf of Ronceverte’s autistic children.
“It’s a board with pictures and words, it’s a way for nonverbal children or adults to communicate with their peers,” said Guet. “Austistic children want to play with everyone else just like all the other kids do. These are so important. When they can’t have their tablets or other speaking devices, this is a way for them to be able to communicate.”
Guet’s daughter, Winter, has autism, and Guet explained Island Park is one of Winter’s favorite places to be and play. However, her inability to communicate verbally can be a barrier when her typical communication tools aren’t available. The board would go a long way to remedy this.
“My ultimate goal is to be able to get one in all the elementary schools and all the parks in the area, starting with Ronceverte would be great,” Guet said. “Other kids like her will benefit from this, even adults. I see a lot of the adults playing at the different parks and Lewisburg Elementary, down here in Island Park, I think they would benefit from it too.”
Each sign board costs approximately $350, and also needs two sign posts, a bag of cement, lights, and more. Kathy King, councilmember and director of the Ronceverte Development Corporation, also noted the organization might also be able to help get multiple boards in the park.
“RDC has grants for signage and if there are still funds there, we can contribute,” said King. “I know it would be great to have a couple of them in Island Park. Going from one end of the playground area all the way [to the other], I think it would be great to have a couple of them.”
Recorder and mayoral candidate Deena Pack also thanked a local business for getting involved with the project.
“Tim Doolan at River City Tees has agreed to make these for both Island Park and Ronceverte Elementary School,” said Pack. “Ashley is planning to put Tim in contact with the speech teachers at Ronceverte Elementary so they can work with him.”
Pack also complimented Guet’s efforts to expand access to parks and recreation for individuals with autism.
“I would like to commend Ashely,” Pack said. “April was autism awareness month and Ashley worked very hard to be an activist for Winter and other children who have autism.”
“You guys are going to make me cry,” Ashley said, after talk of getting more than one board installed.
In other business:
– The stalled sewer project is waiting for a new machine part necessary to complete the work. Once the part arrives, the work is expected to take about a month and is financially covered by leftover funds from the sewer plant upgrade project. The project looks to replace a 12 inch pipe running under the railroad tracks with 18 inch lines on either side, backlogging the system.
– The Ronceverte Fire Department issued an April report to the council. King thanked them for the report, but wanted them more often, noting one report, “one month, once a year, doesn’t really let the community know how much you guys are out there working, unless you’re going by their house like mine.”