The Lewisburg City Council met on Dec. 20 and opened business with a promotion of Sargent Robert Crone to lieutenant. Crone and his wife joined the mayor for photos.
Another guest at the meeting was the representative of the Suddenlink’s parent company Altice/Cebridge. Tom O’Neil listened to public comment about past issues with Suddenlink. The public was represented well by William “Skip” Deegans.
Deegans told the story of his year-long battle for internet and phone services which culminated with a contact to the West Virginia Public Service Commission. His experience culminated with a technician who tried extra hard to fix his problem and discovered the line was picking up some CB traffic. Although the fix was good, he said, it didn’t last, and wasn’t the only issue.
O’Neil was contrite and reassured Deegans that the current Altice/Cebridge company has overcome the strains on the system that were placed by increased users during COVID-19 who were working from home or schooling from home customers.
Council member John Little responded that he knew of problems five years ago, before there was any increase of users due to COVID-19.
O’Neil also stated that the call center for customer issues will be located in Scott Depot and agents are being trained right now for the positions. Also, he said, the service employees for the Lewisburg area will be based in Beckley.
The public hearing concluded with the second reading of Ordinance 312, regarding the licensing of Altice/Cebridge to provide internet and phone service to the city. The public hearing was concluded, and the second reading passed.
Other items included:
- Ordinance 314, the update to historic guidelines was read for a second time with no comments from the public, so it was passed. Council member Sara Elkins did mention that she wondered about language in the guidelines of “should” and “is preferred” and how such soft language would be enforceable from a legal standpoint.
The discussion that followed among the council determined that the state Historic Preservation Office has dictated these guidelines verbatim, and the local committee will work between the property owners and the state office to determine what choices will be allowed, if they are not immediately listed as the “preferred” choice.
- Resolution 502 covered invoices from the water upgrade project, which totaled $1,323,483.21. Invoices paid went to Orders Construction Company: $758,275.01, Pro Contracting Inc.: $452,878.38, Chapman Technical Group engineering: $62,754.05, Dinsmore and Shohl: $398, Navigator Environmental: $540.00 for lands and right of way, reimbursement for Vaughn easement-associated legal fees of $1,300 and reimbursement for permitting and Greenbrier County Landfill invoices of $47,337.77.
All the funds used for this payment came from the USDA grant and loans.
- The Greenbrier Historic Society applied for a grant to be their match in a state historic preservation grant and was approved for $2,500.
Mayor Beverly White announced that the city’s Volunteer of the Year is being considered at this time. The announcement of the selection is usually made on New Year’s Day.
City Manager Misty Hill reported that the Shanghai Parade did not meet the requirements to apply for an arts and humanities grant from the city, so their request for $1,537 will be placed against the Community Development Special Services budget. The council voted to approve this measure.
Commissioner Aaron Seams said, “I would like to express support for the city to adopt this parade as a city-sponsored function in future years.”
It was also announced that the schedule for the Shanghai Parade, the annual New Year’s Day parade through downtown Lewisburg, has changed this year. Lineup for participants will be at 1 p.m., and the parade will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday Jan. 1, 2023.
- Hill also presented the expenses of security cameras at the water treatment plant and also purchase of equipment for the new city police vehicles. The council voted to approve both items.
- The disposition of retired city police vehicles was decided. A 2012 Dodge Charger was given to the city of White Sulphur Springs, a 2013 Ford Explorer will go to Practical Firearms Training, located in Alderson. Two vehicles, a 2014 Ford Explorer and a 2012 Dodge Charger, will be auctioned.
- The city finance committee recommended an amount not to exceed $12,000 to replace solenoid valves and air actuated valves on the current filter system in the water treatment plant. Hazlet Construction will take care of this repair and the maintenance of the system. This is necessary until the new equipment is installed.
- It was announced that the city employee appreciation dinner took place on Thursday, Dec. 15. There was much talk and satisfaction as the long list of 2022 accomplishments was reviewed. Little stated during the meeting, “I am not sure the average person knows about all the highlights of this year. This has been a really great year.”
- White stated she is proud that the Santa box in the city green space has resulted in responded letters to 269 children so far; more letters will probably be put into the box over the weekend before Christmas, she said.
- “The furthest away a response has had to be mailed to so far is Ohio,” she said.