By Sarah Mansheim
If Ronceverte resident Kathy King has her way, another festival may be coming to the Greenbrier Valley. King, who lives and works in Ronceverte and is the president of Main Street Ronceverte’s 1882 Society, approached Ronceverte City Council during their January meeting requesting their support for a centennial celebration of the town’s C&O train depot.
The depot is currently being restored by CSX. While there is no official completion date for the restoration, King said she hopes that the celebration could be held during Labor Day weekend of this year. She says she envisions events that commemorate Ronceverte’s history with the railroad and logging industries such as professional train models at Clifford Armory. Pancake breakfasts and steak dinners could be held by area churches, too, she said.
“There needs to be a huge community effort to make this happen,” she said.
Mayor David Smith, noting that Ronceverte citizens are excited about the depot restoration, said he thinks the 100 year anniversary of the structure is a “perfect opportunity” for a celebration.
“It’s just a matter of putting a committee together,” he said.
As it happened, Kara Dense, executive director of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was on hand to deliver her yearly update to council, and she told King that the CVB would be happy to help her with promotions and possible mini grant funding.
City Administrator Reba Mohler and council persons Barbara Morgan and Bob Baker also offered to serve on the committee. No action was taken by council, save for informally discussing the committee.
The good news continued in the meeting as council honored Jaden Smith, a fourth grader at Ronceverte Elementary School, who recently won the Elks Club Hoop Shoot at both his own school and at a regional shootout. He will go to the state championship in Huntington on Jan. 17. David Smith (no relation) congratulated Jaden for his accomplishments.
In other business, council approved the annexation of 33.908 acres of farm land behind the elementary school into the town. The property adjoins 104 additional acres previously annexed and includes two houses, a barn and two sheds. A public hearing and approval from the Greenbrier County Commission is necessary before the annexation is complete.
Also, Mohler advised council that bids for construction of the town’s wastewater treatment plant were opened on Dec. 18.
“There will be more to report (about the project) next month,” Mohler said.
City grant writer Doug Hylton reported that the town has received grant funding to pave the basketball courts at Island Park. Funding is also available to put a new roof on the park’s amphitheater and to shore up the amphitheater’s stone wall. He said he is currently seeking funding for a new restroom and storage area for the performance space before Greenbrier Valley Theatre brings an event to Island Park this fall.
Hylton also told council about pending sidewalk projects in town – Frankford Road, East Main Street and Edgar Avenue are all on tap for new sidewalks, and he has applied for grant funding from the department of highways for sidewalks on Chestnut and Cedar streets. Hylton said he’s also looking into replacement lampposts on Edgar Avenue, electrical upgrades and other projects on Island Park, trees and fire hydrants in downtown Ronceverte and work to be done in Riverview and Sunset cemeteries.
Police Chief J.R. Byer gave a brief report to council, stating the department answered 3,551 calls in 2014, down by one call from 2013. Arrests included 38 felonies, 19 DUIs and 55 drug-related incidents. Byer reported 10,904 man hours during the year.
“It’s been a busy year,” said Byer, “and in the two years I’ve been chief, I’ve only had a full staff eight months out of those two years.”
Fire Chief Casey Morgan told council he did not have his end-of-year reports finished, but was able to report that the department answered 156 calls in 2014. Mayor Smith said he’d be interested to see how many of those calls fell within and outside of city limits.
Ronceverte City Council will reconvene in regular session on Monday, Feb. 2. City hall will be closed on Jan. 19 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with garbage pickup being delayed by one day that week.