By Peggy Mackenzie
The mayor of Rainelle, Andrea (Andy) Pendleton, together with Tom Oxley, an engineer with Thrasher Group, requested assistance from the Greenbrier County Commission with dredging and cleaning out the Sewell Creek stream bed, which runs within the downtown of Rainelle, for the purpose of flood control.
“Infrastructure,” Pendleton said, “must be taken care of before a town can grow.” Flood control is a big infrastructure issue in Rainelle. Pendleton cited two recent floods – in 2002 and 2009 – as examples. The county commission, she said, had made a commitment to the town of Rainelle of $25,000, using coal severance funds. Pendleton said her frustration is high, having tried every agency she could think of to come to an effective solution to prevent any more muddy basements and storefronts, including half jesting – goats to rid the streambed of the vegetation.
Oxley stated sediment has built up in the stream beds and vegetation has crowded in. “Just by removing debris on the banks will reduce the flooding waterways around Rainelle,” he said. “There’s no place else for the water to go.”
Commissioner Woody Hanna reported his research on the issue included finding an excavator to cut out the willow trees in the stream bed and then applying an herbicide to the cut stumps to prevent vegetation regrowth. Both will be costly, he said. He moved to authorized $14,880 to the town of Rainelle, which was all the county had available in the coal severance fund until another fund drop, not due for another three months.
Pendleton said, “The citizens expect results.” She said she was disappointed that sufficient funds for this immediate need were not in hand. The remaining funds were given over to another west end project to finance the District #2 water project for the Sam Black industrial park, which has a longer-term time frame. Pendleton needs the cleanup done immediately.
Commission President Karen Lobban made an addendum to the motion on the floor stating the commission would bolster the amount going to Rainelle when funds are made available. The motion passed unanimously.
In other business:
• In recognition of National 4-H Week, the first full week in October, Greenbrier County 4-H Program Director Emily Cross presented three 4-H youths to the commission, praising their hard work and dedication. She said Greenbrier County has a large 4-H program, serving 400 members across several community clubs. It encompassed 300 livestock projects, 75 varied projects, which included learning how to microwave foods and manage financial planning; how to fish, trap, and sew; and gain drug awareness training and how to avoid cyber bullying, among many others. She said it takes the support of 200 adult volunteers all during the year to keep the 4-H programs operating.
• A proclamation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month was signed by the commissioners before awareness supporters Brinda Renick and Betty White.
• Pamela Edens was appointed to the Greenbrier County Housing Authority, replacing Robert Richardson in that position.
• The commission agreed to write a letter to local cell phone providers to encourage cell towers to be placed in the Route 92 area. Cell service ends shortly after leaving White Sulphur Springs when traveling up Rt. 92, the commission noted.
• The commission also will write a letter to the Division of Highways in regards to the condition of Muddy Creek Mountain Road. Hanna remarked that roads everywhere are in as bad a shape. Commissioner Mike McClung responded, stating that although the commission has no jurisdiction to require paving of the county roads, it would not hurt to draw attention to the road’s condition.
• Having received a request from Animal Control Officer Robert McClung for a month-long leave, the commission was reluctant to grant that much time off all at one time, particularly since McClung will also be away for two weeks in October at a training class. Robert McClung is due the time off, McClung said. However Hanna stated that a month is too long for anyone requiring animal control services to wait. He moved to permit Robert McClung only a two-week leave at one time. Roberte McClung can then resubmit a request for the remaining time owed him. The motion passed 2-1 with Mike McClung opposing.
• The commission acknowledged receiving a letter from the Planning Commission which approved the commission’s revisions to the Comprehensive Plan last month. With no further ado, the plan was signed as adopted.