White Sulphur Police and city officials took time during the meeting of city council to honor two of its citizens for their bravery and assistance the night of the June 23 flood.
Ryan Ellis and Mary Holmes, both newcomers to the Spa City and the owners of Mountaineer Guns on Main Street, were instrumental in the rescue efforts that took place the night of the flood, said Police Chief John Pauley.
“Lots and lots went on that night,” Pauley said, when electrical transformers began to explode, and the city, under siege, fell into darkness.
Ellis and Holmes showed up to help, fully equipped: “They were like Batman and Robin,” said Pauley, referring to the large amount of equipment the pair had – bags of glow sticks to help rescuers find each other in the dark, rope, and, Pauley said, keys to a bulldozer and an inloader that Ellis used throughout the night to help move land and divert water.
“I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t had that inloader that night,” Pauley said.
Pauley presented Ellis and Holmes with plaques recognizing their service, and the pair was applauded by council.
In other business, Mayor Lloyd Haynes reported that city officials are receiving complaints of storm drain problems, and he assured residents that the city is working diligently to make repairs.
Councilman Mark Gillespie noted his pleasure with Alfredo’s restaurant moving into town, and stated that two other businesses have been scouting buildings to open up shop. However, Gillespie warned that without proper building code and zoning enforcement, businesses are not going to come to town. “If we don’t do something with (zoning and building code enforcement), we’re going to be a ghost town,” he said.
Haynes remarked that the city is once again looking enforcement legalities and will be moving forward on an enforceable ordinance in the near future.
Council person Audrey Van Buren announced that contractor Chris White, who had approached council last month with plans to rehabilitate Memorial Park, has, as yet, been unable to secure funds to move the project forward. Memorial Park was badly damaged by the flood and is uninhabitable.
Van Buren said she’s applied for an Arts and Recreation grant from the Greenbrier County Commission to help with some of the clean-up, but, she said, as of now, the park is at a stand-still. “It’s just really sad,” she said. “And I worry about the kids.”
Van Buren was also joined by Lewisburg Boy Scout Cameron Zobrist, who is hoping to build a flood memorial in Midland Trail Park as part of his Eagle Scout project. Van Buren showed council a picture of the design for the memorial which will honor the eight White Sulphur victims who died in the June flood.
Van Buren and Zobrist are currently raising funds for the memorial, which will cost $20,000, and encourage everyone to chip in. Donations can be sent to First Citizens Bank to the White Sulphur Springs Flood Memorial Fund. Donations may also be dropped off at city hall.
Main Street White Sulphur member Pat Harper reported to council that the Wild Game Cook-Off was a huge success with funds raised to help area businesses with flood relief efforts.
Further, Harper reported that five homes are now under roof in Hope Village, the new housing development for displaced flood victims. Also, six handicapped-accessible, one-bedroom villas are under construction and two other housing applications have been approved. Fourteen additional applications have been presented to the Homes for White Sulphur Springs committee this week, three major repairs on existing White Sulphur Springs homes are almost complete and four more repairs are underway. They are still taking applications.
Harper said Homes for White Sulphur Springs has applied for grant funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank to assist homeowners with mortgage, closing and materials costs.
Finally, at the close of the meeting, council announced that Halloween trick or treat will be held on Monday, Oct. 31, from 6-8 p.m. It was announced that Central Avenue and Mill Hill Drive will likely be closed to trick or treaters due to the extensive damage to the roads and sidewalks that will present fall hazards to pedestrians.
It was also announced that city hall will be closed on Tuesday, Nov. 8, for Election Day and Friday, Nov. 11, for Veteran’s Day. Nov. 8 garbage will be picked up on Wednesday, Nov. 9.