By Lyra Bordelon
The town of Rainelle finally has a chief of police again – John Sergeon. According to Acting Mayor Bill Bell, during the recent Rainelle Town Council meeting on Monday, March 22, Sergeon is expected to begin on Thursday, March 23.
“I’m very impressed with him,” Bell said. “I’ve made a pact with him, and he’ll make a pact [with council] that we will do this as a team effort. We’ll make it work. I believe he’s going to be a working chief of police and we’ve made that agreement with him. …
Noting he took the upcoming chief to “some of where our troubled areas are,” Bell and council are now hopeful the police department can expand back into the larger department it used to be before the schism between former chief Dean Fankell and former mayor Jason Smith, and council.
One potential plan to limit flooding in Rainelle might be off the table. Plans for a channel around sections of the town are mostly likely “scrapped” because it doesn’t do the job of protecting the town from a 2016 style flood, according to W.D. Smith with the engineering firm E.L. Robinson.
“We looked at that channel seven ways to Sunday and what we conclude … is [that] the channel by itself is not a super effective solution,” said Smith. “It has some impact but it’s not a super effective solution to cover the town in a big flood event.”
This does not mean flood mitigation is not in the works, however. Plans are being developed, and the recent COVID-19 stimulus bill and $71 million released to West Virginia in order to deal with the effects of the 2016 flood means that the town will have funds available for the project. Of the second amount Rainelle is competitive, as $36 million of the funds are expected to go to four counties, one of which is Greenbrier.
“This thing is so broad, it’s supposed to mitigate and reduce the possibility of future flooding,” Smith said. “Everything is flood related down here. … Considering that they are going to spend $36 million in these counties, I believe Rainelle will be competitive to a certain degree.”
The funds could be used on a variety of flood-related projects, such as acquisition, construction, reconstruction, installation of public works, storm drains, culverts, green infrastructure, road upgrades, water treatment plants, and more.
“We were very close to being flooded three weeks ago,” Bell said. “A couple of houses did get stuff in their yards. I’m a little concerned.”
In other business:
– Councilmember Danny Milam encouraged those interested in improving Rainelle to come to an upcoming Planning Commission meeting, saying “it’s really, really important we get a lot of people out here. We’ve still got to finish getting organized and we’ve got several programs we need to get started on. … If you want to help the town at all, you need to give us some assistance.”