Even though reports of vandalism at Dorie Miller Park over this past weekend dampened the mood of Lewisburg City Council’s monthly meeting (via Zoom), the city board still approved several funding requests that have the potential to boost activity in the city in the coming year.
Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White read a statement during the meeting stating how disheartening it was to learn of the vandalism after all the work went into the parks upgrades this past year.
“It is unacceptable,” White said. “This park is for everyone. If you know anything about the vandalism, please let our police department know.”
White confirmed that the newly installed bathrooms at the park were spray painted, along with some of the stop signs around the park. She also said that Lewisburg Police would be stepping up their patrolling in the neighborhood, and are investigating the incident.
White also stated that the Lewisburg Public Works Department, which built the new bathrooms, had already made great progress in cleaning up the vandalism.
The mayor then took a moment to thank all the businesses in Lewisburg for their efforts in keeping customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The store owners are limiting the number of customers in their stores, requiring masks and following all guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” White said. “Many stores have hand sanitizer prominently available. Edith’s has it right outside their front door making it easy to access entering and leaving the store.”
In other business, the council heard from Greg Johnson who was representing the Lewisburg Literary Festival.
Johnson appeared before the council to request an arts and humanities grant in the form of $8,000 for the rescheduled festival on April 17, 2021, that is tentatively set to feature a returning David Sedaris, Gary Trudeau (creator of Doonesbury), Jennifer Pharr Davis and a few others.
Johnson announced that the festival will just be a day long event and was rescheduled to that date due to Sedaris’ interest to return to Lewisburg for another speaking engagement.
And due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 that far in advance, it is not set in stone where exactly all the festival events will take place. Several locations are being considered for social distancing reasons if needed, Johnson said.
When asked what the $8,000 would be used for, Johnson stated it would be for festival presenters (excluding Sedaris, as tickets for his event will pay for his appearance), venue and other festival expenses.
After some discussion surrounding the arts and humanities grant as it relates to the city’s hotel/motel tax availability, the council unanimously approved the funding request, making it the fourth year in a row the city council helped fund the event.
Next, Eric McManamay spoke to the council to seek funds for the renovations and beautification of the soccer complex at Greenbrier East High School.
McManamay was seeking approximately $10,000 to secure funding that would help the project be completed. The majority of the funds would be used to put a roof on one of the new structures being built there.
Councilmember Mark Etten expressed concerns about the amount being requested from the city’s video lottery grant fund, as the amount being requested would completely deplete the video lottery fund, which currently is running less than half of its capacity due to COVID-19 shutdowns earlier this year.
Councilmembers Joshua Edwards and Arron Seam also shared Etten’s concerned, all suggested that they approve funds but less than what was being requested.
Seams took his request a step further and suggested the soccer organization seek funding from other municipalities as children from all over the county would be using this complex for tournaments despite Lewisburg being the primary beneficiary of the project.
The council approved funding for the soccer field project in the amount of $4000, and asked that McManamay and his organization request funding from other municipalities. Depending on the response from those requests, the council invited McManamay to make a subsequent request if needed, also allowing the council to have a better picture of their video lottery grant fund in the coming months.
The city council also approved two proclamations for the month of October.
The first approved was a proclamation to recognize October as Arts and Humanities Month. The council issued the proclamation at their meeting on the evening of Tuesday, October 20. Through the proclamation, the council acknowledges that the City of Lewisburg owes a great deal of its vibrancy and prosperity to local nonprofit arts and humanities organizations, craftspeople, artists, galleries and events.
The proclamation states that, “the arts enhance the quality of life in Lewisburg and attract new businesses and residents. And vibrant arts communities create jobs. Creative occupations represent 19% of the workforce in West Virginia.”
“The Council further resolved that the arts and humanities enhance and enrich the lives of every resident of our region and of every American, and help diverse communities across the United States explore their history and culture,” the proclamation stated. “In addition, children exposed to the arts do much better in other academic areas and score higher on academic achievement tests.”
The proclamation was signed by Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White, along with Carnegie Hall President Sara Crickenberg and Greenbrier Valley Theatre Development Director Ethan Serr.
The council also approved a proclamation naming October as Child Loss Remembrance month.
“Pregnancy and infant loss affects one in four families, and approximately one million pregnancies in the United States ends in miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death,” the proclamation states.
“Whereas, observing a day of remembrance for child loss will provide some comfort for those suffering a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or loss of child at any age; and … recognition of child loss remembrance month will encourage our community to support bereaved families, while raising awareness about this silent subject,” the proclamation states.
Further, issuing the proclamation challenged the local community to recognize and spotlight organizations and support groups for families going through mourning the loss of a child.
WVDN Reporter Matthew Young contributed to this story