“Help us!” is the resounding cry of those living in the town of Rainelle.
In a town that has seen the devastating effects of multiple floods, those struggling with drug addiction and life under the poverty line, residents continue to seek assistance from local leaders.
During the August 9 council meeting, residents once again pleaded for a full police force and for help cleaning up the town.
One resident stated that on her short drive to the council meeting, she saw at least five people in town she had never seen before. One woman was carrying a backpack, grocery bags and totes.
“She was on something because she was all over the place,” the resident stated. “Something has got to be done here.”
In response to a question about whether former Police Chief J.P. Stevens will be coming back to serve as an officer once again, Mayor Robin Williams responded “we are working on him and I have some resumes for other officers, too, that are starting to come in. Hopefully soon, we will have a full police force.”
A full force for the town will include a police chief and at least three officers, she added.
Currently, the town police force includes Officer Randy Sizemore and Officer Doris Vandall.
As for town cleanup, Pat Vaughn, business owner and citizen, asked “what are we going to do about a few of the homes in town that really look bad? Some of them have small kids in them. That really depresses people about those children. Is there anything the town can do to clean up underneath these buildings? They were the ones that were built.”
She said she recently took her great-granddaughter to the city park, but the barking dogs and the dog manure were too much and her great-granddaughter became scared. Further, she said there was a four-wheeler revving up and a bunch of people standing around near the park.
During the recent Meadow River Valley Kids Frenzy event, Vaughn said that people who attended were talking about the bad conditions at houses near the park.
“Can nothing be done about these people sticking all that stuff underneath those homes?” Vaughn asked. “If it floods again, where will all of that stuff go?”
“You are not supposed to drive down the street in Rainelle and see a mattress or a washer or a this or that in the yard,” she continued. “Come on. Let’s get some pride.”
Williams responded that the town is currently issuing citations asking property owners to clean up and that the officers are helping do that.
“Hopefully, we will see an improvement,” Williams said. “Several people have been notified.”
Vaughn added that she recently needed to call 911 about a group of people who were outside of her business getting ready to fight.
“I wasn’t afraid . . . but still, I thought I would call 911 and see what happens,” Vaughn said. “But, nobody ever came and nobody ever called me back. What are we gonna do about it? What do you think about 911 never calling me back?”
Officer Vandall stated that she never received the call from dispatch, but she also didn’t have a portable radio until later in the day.
“It could have been critical, but it wasn’t,” Vaughn said. “It was something that you wonder what if you were really in trouble. What would happen?”
Vandall said she would check with those at 911 to see what happened.
In other business,
– Vandall reported for her first day of duty on Aug. 9. She stated that she “is glad to be back” and that she spent her first day gathering information from town residents on areas that need to be addressed.
– Council approved a bid from Southern WV Paving for $96,950 to pave Kanawha, Fayette, Locust, Oak, 1st, 5th, 6th, 9th, 16th and Chestnut Streets and West Virginia Avenue.
According to Williams, the alleys will not be paved at this time;
– Williams stated that several residents had approached her to see if the town had a “no Jake Brake” ordinance.
Typically, when truck drivers come down Sewell Mountain, they need to use their Jake Brakes at the bottom of the mountain to slow down, Williams explained. However, there is no ordinance regarding this specific issue, but there is a noise ordinance that she could use to have “No Jake Brakes” signs placed along Route 60 as they enter town.
Councilmember Jimmy Matheney stated that truck drivers need to use that brake in order to slow down. They are especially needed due to the location of Rainelle Elementary.
“You want the trucks to be coming through there slow,” he noted. “Especially since school is about to start.”
Council decided to look into the matter before making a decision on whether or not to place a sign;
– In response to a citizen concern about lawnmowers being driven through town, Williams said the noise ordinance could be used to stop people from using their mowers at 11 p.m.
– Former Mayor Andrea Pendleton asked to be able to complete projects she started including the placement of road signs and benches at the Veterans Memorial Park and the painting of a mural.
The Rainelle Town Council meetings are open to the public. They take place on the second and fourth Monday each month at 7 p.m. at town hall.