River Festival funding auction coming up; memorial marker considered

By Peggy Mackenzie

It was announced at the Monday night city council meeting the Ronceverte River Festival will hold an auction on Oct. 19 at the Clifford Community Center starting at 9 a.m.

The auction will bring in much needed funding for the 2020 festival on the second weekend in June at Island Park. According to Council member Barbara Morgan, “There’s a lot of nice items included in this auction event. Don’t miss out. Everything must go!”

Mayor David Smith said this is “grant season,” a phrase often used by former grant writer and great supporter of the City of Ronceverte, Doug Hylton, who passed away earlier this year. Among grants being submitted is a new grant, the West Virginia Folklife Program, which refers to art and culture that is based in and reflective of traditional knowledge and connection to community, and features the installation of roadside signage displaying historical interests for passing motorists.

Smith said in deference to Hylton, who had always wanted a marker posted where, many years ago, over 300 apes and monkeys were buried. The story goes, Smith said, the Sells Down circus train stalled in Big Bend Tunnel on its way to Ronceverte on Aug. 5, 1906. The smoke and gas in the tunnel became insufferable resulting in the death of all the apes and monkeys. A sad circus crew, red-eyed from smoke and sorrow made the discovery when the train arrived in Ronceverte. The task of a mass burial of the primates occurred the next day in a long trench close to the old power plant (near the recycling station). Smith said the marker must be placed on City property.

As usual with Ronceverte City Council meetings, the water and waste water payment resolutions began the Monday evening’s agenda. Bob Hazelwood, representing the E.L Robinson engineering firm, reported on two water-related infrastructure upgrade projects the city is undertaking. He said both projects will begin bidding soon with construction to start early next spring. The last time any upgrades were done to the water system was in 2009 when the Squirrel Hill water tank was replaced. Phase one will include the replacement of two tanks, the main water tank and the Brier Hill water tank, leak detections and water line replacements. A recent bid opening resulted in only one bid for leak detection equipment. Hazelwood said another bid opening will be offered, hopefully with results to act on by the next council meeting.

Updates on existing issues include:

Council member Deena Peck reported that the mural project is moving forward with two mural sites having been selected.

Council member Adam Rosin said, in an update on the Shentel franchise agreement still under discussion after three months, that he has found new federal level changes regarding information services concerning Shentel Internet Services, which he and the committee will review.

City Manager Reba Mohler offered an update of the waste water extension line to be installed under the railroad tracks. The pipe size was increased to 42 inches, she said, and which must be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). But it first must pass a number of meetings with the CSX railroad officials for approval.

Council member Kathy King reported that an 18-month long project to remove two dilapidated houses that border Main Street is moving slowly to completion before their demolition is finally approved. The Ronceverte Development Corp has obtained the deeds, and once demoed, the two adjoining properties will be cleared and planted with grasses. Another grant will fund park features and landscaping, she said. Another long-standing project — the walking bridge, which passes over the two structures, is also up for repairs. It is owned by the City, but the maintenance for it is managed by CSX. The City is familiar with the extended time frame required for projects involving CSX, but like the improvements made to the depot building by CSX, results will be forthcoming.

Smith said the city is considering joining the West Virginia Association of Museums. An Americorp worker will be cataloging items from the Ronceverte Museum to prepare for a move to the Clifford Center as a permanent museum location.

Ronceverte’s Municipal Code, Chapter #5 will have a first reading at the November council meeting in which an amendment will cover the changes as recommended by Chief J.R. Byer and Mohler.

The library book sale will be held at the Fairlea Seneca Mall on Oct. 11-12.

Halloween Trick or Treat in Ronceverte is set for 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31.


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