Adopt-A-Tree Program Accepting Applications for 2022

The City of Elkins Tree Board’s popular Adopt-A-Tree program returns this fall to encourage planting trees throughout the city. The program provides free young trees to selected homeowners in the city’s five wards. The application deadline is Friday, October 14.

New this year, applicants can pick out their tree at the Elkins Tree Nursery behind the Gov. Kump House in Elkins. The “Adoption Day” event will be Saturday, October 22, from noon to 2 p.m. Other accommodations will be made for those unable to attend.

“We are very excited to offer participants the chance to pick out their special tree,” said Marilynn Cuonzo, Elkins Tree Board (ETB) chairman. “Our tree nursery is filled with good-sized varieties, both flowering and non-flowering, that need good homes. We particularly encourage families to participate.”

Sam Adams, urban forester with the WV Division of Forestry, will be on hand that day to provide tree planting advice and conduct a hands-on pruning workshop beginning at 11 a.m. ETB member Linda Burke, silviculturist with the U.S. Forest Service, will also offer assistance. This event is free and open to the public. Both activities will take place rain or shine.

Residents in all five wards are encouraged to fill out the application. The selected tree owner commits to taking care of the tree for a minimum of three years, and board members are available to provide advice throughout that period. The homeowner is also responsible for planting the tree within two weeks of receiving it.

The trees should preferably be planted in front of the home or business. The type of tree will vary according to the site location. The preferred location is in the designated tree lawn, the grassy area between the street and the sidewalk; however, the overall goal is to create a green, cooling canopy for the city, wherever trees can be placed.

The program’s goal is to continue to cool the streetscape, provide shade for those walking on city sidewalks and encourage everyone to plant more trees in town. The benefits of planting trees are numerous. Not only do trees improve the aesthetics of a neighborhood, but they also assist with lowering water run-off and reducing air-conditioning costs and noise pollution. Most importantly, trees remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, reducing climate change’s impact.

Applications are available online on the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page, the City of Elkins website, and at Elkins City Hall (401 Davis Avenue). The deadline for submission is October 14, 2022. For those unable to attend “Adoption Day,” the ETB will deliver them to the homeowner no later than October 30.

The Gov. Kump House is located on Randolph Ave. across from Kroger. Parking is available behind the property.

The Elkins Tree Board meets the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the Darden House adjacent to City Hall. The public is welcome to attend. However, the next ETB meeting will be on October 11 due to the Forest Festival. The board offers various workshops and volunteer opportunities throughout the year, and those interested are encouraged to visit the Elkins Friends of Trees Facebook page.

For further information, contact Nanci Bross-Fregonara, Elkins Tree Board, nbross-fregonara@cityofelkinswv.com.

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Photo: Elkins Tree Board and Elkins Friends of Trees members prepare tree stock in the city tree nursery behind the Gov. Kump House, Elkins, for the Adopt-A-Tree program. This annual event offers free trees to city residents who apply.

Nominees Wanted for Extra Mile Day

November 1 is Extra Mile Day, and Mayor Jerry Marco wants to hear nominations from the public.

According to Extra Mile America, the organization coordinating this program, the purpose of Extra Mile Day is to celebrate the capacity everyone has to create positive change in their families, organizations, and communities by “going the extra mile. On Extra Mile Day, mayors of more than 500 cities across the nation will recognize three individuals or organizations in their local areas that “go the extra mile” in volunteerism and service.

On this November 1, Elkins will be one of those cities. Please submit nominations for this recognition to Mayor Marco by email. Your email should include:

  • The nominee’s name (can be a person or an organization from the Elkins area)
  • Two-to-four sentences describing why this person/organization was selected as an extra-mile change maker

Please submit nominations no later than October 14. Email nominations to the mayor’s office by clicking here or get in touch using the contact information below.

Mayor’s Executive Secretary
Rachel Wickham
rwickham@cityofelkinswv.com
Phone: (304) 636-1414, ext. 1110
401 Davis Avenue, Elkins, WV, 26241

 

UPDATE: Boil Water On Yokum Street LIFTED

Last modified on August 12th, 2022 at 09:15 am

Update as of 8/12, 9:05 a.m.: This Boil Water Notice has been lifted. Lab testing found no contamination.

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Water system personnel are responding to a water leak near the intersection of Yokum Street and Robert E. Lee Avenue.

While repairs are underway, water will be off to customers on Yokum Avenue. (The approximate area is shown in yellow on the below map. The affected water line is shown in red.)

Tonight’s frequent downpours may slow repair time.

After repairs are complete and service has been restored, a Boil Water Notice will be in effect for these same customers. The earliest that laboratory testing can be completed and the notice lifted is Friday, August 12.

Boil Water Notices are issued out of an abundance of caution because positive pressure has been lost and the possibility of contamination exists, not because contamination has been detected. The presence or absence of contamination must be confirmed by an independent lab through a testing process that requires at least 24 hours after delivery of a sample. Samples cannot be taken until the leak has been repaired and service has been restored. Samples can only be submitted during business hours. For more information about what to do under a Boil Water Notice, click here.

Notification will be sent out when the Boil Water Notice is lifted. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate your patience during this time.

To keep up to date on these and similar announcements, please bookmark this blog post and follow these channels:

Elkins Water Plant Hosts EPA Workshop

Regulators from across the country gathered to learn about membrane treatment plants

What makes for safe drinking water? Those in the water-treatment field know that the answer to this question can be something of a moving target.

As scientific knowledge and treatment technologies advance, what the field considers to be safe levels of certain contaminants today may come to be seen as dangerously high down the road. Even before such developments result in formal rule changes, an EPA program called AWOP (Area-Wide Optimization Program) encourages local water utilities to exceed current regulations by optimizing performance of existing facilities without costly capital improvements.

AWOP officials and water regulators from three of the six nationwide AWOP regions recently traveled to Elkins. The purpose of the gathering was to hold the region’s first workshop about applying the AWOP approach in plants that use membrane treatment (such as the Elkins Water Treatment Plant). Attendees included representatives from seven state drinking water programs, three regional EPA offices, the EPA Technical Services Center in Cincinnati, the director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and Process Application, Inc. (an EPA contractor).

When the request came in for Elkins to host this workshop, Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the Elkins water system, jumped at the chance.

“This workshop is for regulators who don’t get very many chances to actually go hands-on at a membrane treatment plant,” he says. “Membrane technology is still new in the United States and especially here in West Virginia, and regulators are still figuring out what the goal posts should look like. It was really encouraging for me and my team that they would pick our plant to come to as part of the process of shaping regulations for the whole nation.”

By design, the drinking water produced by membrane plants, also called effluent, already exceeds EPA standards, but there can nonetheless be room for improvement in other aspects of plant operations, maintenance, and data management. This workshop focused on membrane data integrity, or the extent to which data collected by automated sensors matches the results of traditional manual sampling.

Using the Elkins Water Treatment Plant as a case study, workshop attendees divided into groups to try their hands at seven different data-related special studies looking at various aspects of the plant’s data management, including examining and understanding the functioning of a vital plant system called SCADA (Supervisory Access and Data Acquisition).

“One reason this workshop needed to take place in a working membrane plant is because these regulators want to get a firm understanding of how accurate this kind of system really is,” says Lambert. “They don’t want to base their regulations on the manufacturers’ claims because these systems may perform differently out here in the field.”

According to Lambert, the attendees seemed impressed by the Elkins plant’s record-keeping and transparency.

“We hear that a lot of systems aren’t always welcoming to outside eyes, because they might be afraid deficiencies could be discovered,” he says. “Personally, I welcome visits from people of this caliber to help evaluate what we do, because it’s a great learning opportunity for all.”

Lambert said the training was a big success for hosts and attendees alike.

“This really was time well spent,” says Lambert. “This is a field where if you aren’t constantly learning, you are going to fall behind. Everyone learned a lot at this event, including me.”

EFD Installing Free Residential Smoke Alarms

Last modified on August 5th, 2022 at 05:26 pm

Fires can be deadly—especially in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms. Seven times a day, someone in the United States dies in a home fire. About three out of five of these deaths occur in homes lacking smoke alarms, where residents are twice as likely to die in a fire than in homes where working smoke alarms are present.

To help more families gain access to these lifesaving devices, the Elkins Fire Department is providing smoke alarms in homes at no cost to residents, under a grant program of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal. These alarms, which are powered by sealed lithium batteries with a life span of ten years, must be installed by EFD. As part of this program, a database is being created so that new smoke alarms can be distributed to these homes in 10 years, after the current ones reach their end of life.

To schedule your smoke alarm installation, contact the fire station.  Your address and a valid phone number is required to secure your detector.

Quantities are limited, so get in touch today!

 

Summer Tour Hours Announced for Gov. Kump House

The Kump Education Center will be offering summertime public tours of the Gov. Kump House in Elkins beginning Thursday, July 7. The free tour hours are Thursday and Sunday afternoons from 3-5:30 p.m. through Sunday, August 7.

The public tour hours provide visitors the opportunity to see vintage family wedding gowns, memorabilia, and new interpretive displays. The displays focus not only on family weddings but also on the historical significance of the site and the legacy of Gov. Kump, one of the most influential governors of the state.

Admission to the event is free, but donations are highly encouraged. Parking is available behind the Kump House, located on Randolph Ave., across from Kroger. Parking can also be accessed from Seneca Road.

The new interpretive displays are partially funded by a West Virginia Humanities Council mini-grant. The WV Humanities Council is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and serves West Virginia through grants and direct programs in the humanities.

For more information about the West Virginia Humanities Council grants program, contact Humanities Council grants administrator Erin Riebe at (304) 346-8500 or via email at riebe@wvhumanities.org. Grant guidelines and applications are available on the Humanities Council website, www.wvhumanities.org.

KEC volunteer Jane Lawson assisted with the recently held Open House at the historic Gov. Kump House. Visitors can also view the home Thursday and Sunday afternoons, July 7-August 7, from 3-5:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

Tygart Hotel Dynamite Incident

On the afternoon of June 29, contractors renovating the Tygart Hotel on Davis Avenue in Elkins discovered dynamite in the building and alerted authorities. Elkins Police Department and Elkins Fire Department investigated and ordered an evacuation of nearby buildings. Davis Avenue was closed between Second and Third.

The West Virginia State Police Explosives Response Team was dispatched to the scene and arrived just before 5 p.m. Following a situation briefing by city public safety officials, ERT officers entered the building. They safely recovered and disposed of the dynamite.

Investigators believe there is no ongoing threat to the public.

EFD Receives Elevator Training

Elevators are a great convenience–until they stop working, whether due to mechanical problems or as a result of a larger emergency. Elkins Fire Department and Randolph County Department of Homeland Security personnel spent Saturday getting up to speed on the special challenges and risks associated with rescuing people trapped in elevators.

The training session was led by John Hoffman, a retired fire chief from New Jersey and the current Braxton County Department of Homeland Security director. Members were instructed on operating landing doors, manual lowering of elevator cars and firefighter bypass operations.

The training was held at Davis Medical Center.

Zoning Update Moves to Council

The Elkins Planning Commission officially presented city council with its proposed update to city zoning laws in June, capping seven years of work by commissioners. State code stipulates several additional steps council must now follow before the new zoning ordinance can become law. These include a public comment period and two public hearings. The earliest date on which the ordinance could become law would be August 18.

The Planning Commission has held about 50 noticed, public meetings on this topic since 2015. The commission has also held three open houses to collect public input (January 2018, September 2018, and December 2021). As reflected in the commission’s meeting minutes, commissioners carefully considered, and often made changes in response to, every comment or suggestion received at these open houses, in addition to written and verbal comments from the public and from other elected officials.

Council will accept written comments on the proposed ordinance, which should be routed through the Office of the City Clerk, through July 15. On July 26, council will hold a daytime hearing at 1 p.m., followed by an evening hearing on July 28 at 7 p.m. The July 28 hearing will be followed by a regular council meeting, at which the ordinance is scheduled for first reading. As mentioned, the second and final reading is tentatively scheduled for August 18.

Zoning laws regulate how land may be used inside a jurisdiction. These laws divide jurisdictions into sections, or zones, and stipulate the kinds of businesses and housing that are allowed in each of these. Zoning laws also cover topics like where buildings may be situated on a lot and how many accessory buildings (e.g., sheds) are allowed. Other matters that zoning laws might cover include rules for urban livestock and agriculture, as well as requirements for buffer zones between commercial and residential properties.

Elkins zoning laws were first approved in the 1950s and have not been significantly updated since the 1970s. Starting in 2015, the Elkins Planning Commission has been preparing a comprehensive update to the city’s zoning laws. The objectives articulated by the Planning Commission for the update include attracting more personal and commercial investment into the city, encouraging small-scale businesses (including low-impact home businesses in some residential zones) and retail spaces, protecting neighborhood character, and preparing the city for new kinds of businesses that were not on the radar when the city’s current zoning laws were drafted.

Because the city’s zoning laws were so far out of date and, in part, no longer in compliance with state and federal laws and court rulings, the commission elected to start drafting its update from scratch. Some of the biggest changes in the new law would regulate the type, size, and placement of signs; encourage the creative repurposing of former schools and churches, which can be difficult under current city zoning rules; preserve vital retail space downtown by forbidding the conversion of storefronts into residences; and require “buffers” between commercial areas and residences, such as landscaping or fences.

Legally operated businesses and rental units would be “grandfathered” under the new law. This means that, even if the type of business or style of residence conflicted with those allowed in a particular zone under the new law, these “non-conforming uses” would be allowed to continue, even if the property is sold, unless abandoned for a year or longer. The proposed ordinance includes no design or historic-preservation requirements.

To ensure that the update incorporated proven, effective practices and complied with all applicable state and federal laws, the commission has throughout this process relied on the advice of planning and legal professionals from the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, a program of the West Virginia University College of Law. Elkins is one of 20 West Virginia communities that clinic staffers are currently assisting with zoning ordinances at no cost.

Under the process stipulated by state law, planning commissions proposing new zoning ordinances must do by creating a document referred to as a Study and Report on Zoning. This document includes analysis of current conditions and an explanation of why changes to zoning laws are needed. The report then includes two appendices, one containing the proposed new ordinance and one containing the proposed new zoning map.

For more information and to download the Study and Report on Zoning (including the proposed zoning ordinance and map), visit: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning-update.

Kump Education Center Plans Summer Open House

The Kump Education Center will be hosting a special summertime Open House weekend, June 25-26, from 2-5 p.m. at the Gov. Kump House in Elkins. The two-day event is themed “Something Old, Something New” and will feature vintage family wedding gowns, memorabilia, and new interpretive displays.

The event will be the first time Edna Scott Kump’s 1907 and Peggy Kump Roberts’ 1936 wedding gowns will be on formal display along with other early 1900s wedding items. The home will be decorated with a wedding touch, and an Eleanor Roosevelt reenactor will be having tea in the newly built outdoor pavilion on the house grounds at 3 p.m.

The displays focus not only on family weddings but also on the historical significance of the site and the legacy of Gov. Kump, one of the most influential governors of the state.

“This will be our first of what we hope will be many Open Houses at the Kump House,” said Heather Biola, executive director of the Kump Education Center. “There is great significance to the overarching “Kump House at the Crossroads” theme of the minigrant: the house is at a major crossroads of several significant roads; Governor Kump served during a very transitional Depression to New Deal period of West Virginia history; and the brides were on their way to new stages of their lives.”

Admission to the event is free, but donations are highly encouraged. Limited parking will be available behind the Kump House, located on Randolph Ave., Elkins, and in the Kroger parking lot across the street.

The displays and event are partially funded by a West Virginia Humanities Council mini-grant. The WV Humanities Council is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and serves West Virginia through grants and direct programs in the humanities.

The Humanities Council budgets over $800,000 for grants and programs each year. A variety of grants are offered to nonprofit organizations that support educational programming. Major grants are designed for projects requesting over $1,500 and up to $20,000 and are awarded twice annually. Mini-grants, designed for projects requesting $1,500 or less, are awarded four times per year. The next Humanities Council mini-grant deadline is October 1, and the next major grant deadline is September 1.

For more information about the West Virginia Humanities Council grants program, contact Humanities Council grants administrator Erin Riebe at (304) 346-8500 or via email at riebe@wvhumanities.org. Grant guidelines and applications are available on the Humanities Council website, www.wvhumanities.org.

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