LEWISBURG (WVDN) – The Lewisburg City Council met on Tuesday, Feb. 21, and presented two police officers with promotions to sergeant. Steven Rodoussakis received his badge, pinned by his eldest son and younger son and daughter. David Eggleston also was promoted. Both new sergeants then posed with the City Council members for photos.
Presentations were made by New River Community and Technical College President Dr. Bonny Copenhaver and Lewisburg Downtown Business Association President Jill McIntyre.
The annual report from the college featured a lot of statistics which showed a majority of students are female, and the top three programs of study are general studies (primarily used for planned transfer to a four-year program elsewhere), cosmetology and the LPN to ADN bridge for nursing.
The presentation from the Lewisburg Downtown Business Association proposed a portion of the money collected in the hotel-motel tax be earmarked for promoting the downtown group of restaurants and retail stores through a “Visit Lewisburg” marketing campaign, and also to promote the various festivals through the year: the Lewisburg Literary Festival, the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival, Girls’ Day Out and Taste of Our Towns, among others.
Councilmember John Little was strongly opposed to the money being spent in this manner. He said the city’s bed tax money has been traditionally spent for parks and recreation, which serves a larger proportion of the city population and businesses. He also suggested that the 50% share of the tax that is appropriated to the Greenbrier County Visitor and Convention Bureau is enough to serve all of the county’s businesses, including the downtown area of Lewisburg.
City manager Misty Hill commented that the past contributions by the city for marketing downtown and the downtown businesses festivals were stopped when the city ran into difficulty paying for police and other government operated services.
McIntire asked that the LDBA’s request be considered during the creation of the upcoming city budgets.
Hill said that the city has scheduled budget meetings in March for the upcoming year, set to take place on March 14 and 15.
In other business, the men’s soccer team of Greenbrier East High School requested a Video Lottery grant of $570.82 for new signage on campus which declares their recent state championship status.
The request was granted; however, Councilmember Sarah Elkins stated that it was unfair that the city of Lewisburg was the only municipality requested from, and that students attend Greenbrier East from several cities and communities in the county. Little also felt that the city was unfairly expected to provide monies for a county institution, and he was the one “no” vote on the motion to give the grant.
In other financial matters, the city health insurance program has eliminated the spousal carve-out portion, so health insurance will now be offered to families of employees regardless of their medical history. Also, the qualifier for hours of employment will be based on the previous year’s total hours, including overtime.
The Go.gov program will be added by the city for notification of road disruptions during the water project construction and will continue afterward to notify residents who do not use Facebook or other social media. This program will be in addition to the current One-Call program that calls customer’s residential phone numbers of record to announce boil water advisories.
Texts will be sent by the Go.gov service. Emails and phone numbers for these services are drawn from the water bill records, so citizens should report cell phone or email changes to the city.
The city’s water construction project is heading down Teaberry Road and onto Ruffner Drive with line installation for improved water volume to Fairlea customers. The ground disruption will be short lived, and the crew will replace all the soils and plant grass seed before spring arrives to cause the grass to grow.
The following invoices were approved for payment:
• Invoice pay requests for the Public Works Building Resolution 507 was for $62,260.
• The water plant project Resolution 508 totaled $3,318,383.72 and paid to Hayslett Construction in the amount of $2,484,469.10; Orders Construction $479,085.05; Pro Contracting Inc. $226,757.31; engineering firm Chapman Technical Group, $128,484.15; attorneys Dinsmore and Shohl, $110.00; and Region IV Planning $1,478.11. All were paid using the USDA funds for the project.
• The invoice Storm Water Study resolution 509 was for $3,300.00 paid to Chapman Technical Group.
Resolution 510 was read to provide a 25-mph sign to be placed on McElhenny Road. There have been several complaints from residents of speeding violations on this road, and the signage stating a 25-mph speed limit will be requested from the state department of highways.
A 50 cents per hour pay increase for cost-of-living adjustment was approved for all city employees.
Ryan Bostic has gotten his CDL teaching certificate and will now be able to instruct city employees for CDL licensing; students will then take their tests locally at the Division of Motor Vehicles in Fairlea. This will give the city improved staffing, because their employees can obtain the education and licensure without travelling to other places in the state for multiple-day training courses.
In his report on the fire department, Chief Joseph Thomas requested an automatic renewal of the mutual aid arrangement with Fairlea Fire Department, and the agreement was approved by Council.
A change order on the water project was submitted, increasing the cost another $169,000-plus to move the intake structure from DNR property to the city-owned property on the river. This change order was expected but not part of the original application for grants from the USDA or the state.