City Hall News: Week of Jan. 17, 2021

Meeting next week are the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. Also meeting are council’s ad hoc Special Hiring Committee and Municipal Properties Committee. Council meets Thursday.

City hall will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Trash will be picked up on the usual schedule.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Special Hiring Committee—formed to find a new operations manager—will plan its first round of candidate interviews. Applications for this position are still being accepted. Learn more and apply here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/employment-opportunities.

At its 2 p.m. Tuesday meeting, the Sanitary Board will review requested equipment purchases and a proposal to add a new position at the wastewater treatment plant laboratory. The board will also discuss department wages, the WVRWA apprenticeship program, and adapting and adopting the City of Elkins Personnel Manual for its own employees.

The Municipal Properties Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. On the agenda is consideration of the requested abandonment of the alley behind the property formerly known as Allegheny Apartments, near South Davis Avenue. Other agenda items include urban deer, a report on the condition of the Darden House, downtown parking, auction of surplus equipment, and a storage building on Baxter Street.

On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., staff will present the city’s application for additional home-rule authorities to the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board in Charleston. Learn more: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/home-rule.

The Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission meets Wednesday at 5 p.m., in the Phil Gainer Community Center. Agenda items include a new logo for the commission.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda may be adjusted through Tuesday. The only current action item is the topic of holiday pay for civil-service employees. Mike Bell, the executive director of the Davis Health System Foundation, will give a presentation.

Fourth quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns, as well as annual returns (for those businesses that file annually instead of quarterly), are due January 31.

Annual Report: EPD Made 91 Drug Arrests in 2021

Officers investigated 371 cases and received 2,412 hours of training

The Elkins Police Department has released its 2021 annual report, providing statistics and insights from a year that saw officers respond to 5,412 calls for service, make 91 drug arrests, and receive 2,412 hours of training—all while operating under the special challenges of the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.

During 2021, EPD officers investigated 371 criminal cases involving 420 crime victims. EPD investigations led to 261 arrests, including 91 for drug offenses; 81 for assault; 50 for larceny; 11 for forcible sex offenses; 3 for stolen motor vehicles; and 3 for kidnapping. Last year also saw the city’s first homicide since 2015; EPD Chief Travis Bennett reported to city council that the suspect was in custody within an hour of the initial 911 call.

EPD officers performed 1,121 traffic stops during 2021. These resulted in 330 citations and 791 warnings. The department also responded to 234 motor vehicle accidents and issued 800 parking citations.

Training was a particular emphasis last year. The 2,412 hours of training received by EPD officers included not only basic law enforcement topics and techniques but also advanced specialty instruction.

In early 2021, EPD hosted a series of multi-agency training sessions concerning active-shooter situations. This training focused on immediate solo response by the first arriving officer and ensured that all area law enforcement and emergency-medical personnel will be familiar with the same tactics and protocols in the event such a situation arises.

The department also conducted training for Randolph County Public School bus drivers about hostage and other emergency situations.

These training sessions further strengthened the skills and capabilities of the EPD SWAT team, which consists of officers trained to handle potentially dangerous situations such as high-risk warrant service, barricaded suspects, hostage situations, and protection details. During 2021, EPD SWAT operators served three high-risk warrants. They also responded to two separate barricaded-suspect situations and one request for assistance from another area department.

“This year brought the challenges of high call volume, pandemic precautions, and several high-risk, high-profile incidents,” says Chief Bennett. “I couldn’t be more pleased with my team’s performance. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2022 brings and continuing to work with the community to keep Elkins a safe and enjoyable location for residents and visitors.”

Half Mast Flag: Senator Harry Reid

The U.S. flag at Elkins City Hall is at half mast in honor of the life and legacy of U.S. Senator Harry Reid. See Governor Justice’s proclamation here.

City Hall News: Week of January 10, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Tree Board, the Elkins Planning Commission, the Elkins Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Elkins Police Civil Service Commission. Also meeting are council’s Public Safety Committee, Rules & Ordinances Committee, and Personnel Committee. Christmas trees will be collected curbside through Friday.

Meeting Monday at 10 a.m., the Public Safety Committee will hear updates on body-worn and vehicle cameras and bids received for demolition of dilapidated properties. The committee will also hear reports from city public safety officials.

Later Monday, at 1 p.m., the Planning Commission will continue reviewing and addressing public comments concerning its draft zoning ordinance. For more about the zoning update: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning-update.

On Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Board of Zoning Appeals will elect officers for 2022 and receive training from the WVU Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic.

Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Darden House (next door to city hall), the Tree Board will elect officers for 2022.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. Discussion will continue concerning sidewalk ownership and responsibility and parking in alleys. The only new business item is a proposed change to the outdoor burning law requested by the Elkins Fire Department.

Meeting Thursday at noon, the Personnel Committee will consider a requested clarification of city policy concerning compensation for temporarily assigned duties and the possibility of instituting a system of longevity pay for city employees.

Later Thursday, at 3 p.m., the Police Civil Service Commission meets to certify the newest list of persons eligible for entry-level appointment and plan a new round of testing for additional candidates.

Christmas trees will be collected for composting through Friday. After removing ornaments, tinsel, and anything else that isn’t a natural part of the tree, please place it at the curb, regardless of where you put trash for collection.

Fourth quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns, as well as annual returns (for those businesses that file annually instead of quarterly), are due January 31.

All meetings are at city hall (401 Davis Avenue), unless otherwise stated, and are open to the public. Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

Changes to Organizational Structure

As a result of recent actions by council, the city’s water and sanitary boards are now providing administrative oversight of the city’s water and sewer system operations. See below for more information about this new organizational structure:

  • Water Board: Oversees the city’s water treatment and distribution system. Click here for more information.
  • Sanitary Board: Oversees the city’s wastewater collection and treatment system. Click here for more information.
  • Operations Department: Oversees trash collection, street repair, code enforcement, building permits and inspections, and maintenance and upkeep of city hall and other non-water/non-sewer buildings, facilities, and grounds. Scroll down for more information. Click here for more information.

The city is also actively accepting applications for a new operations manager. Learn more and apply on this page.

Council Committee Diary: December 2021

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of December 2021. (Most committees did not meet during December.)

  • Finance Committee: At its December 6 meeting, the committee supported the police chief’s request to purchase a portable radar sign for $3,500. These signs lock to existing signposts and can be installed in minutes by one staff member. They measure and show the speed of approaching vehicles, and they also record detected speeds for trend analysis. The committee also supported an end-of-year stipend for general fund employees and recommended a salary range for the new operations manager of $50-65,000 a year.
  • Special Hiring Committee: At its December 1 meeting, this ad hoc committee charged with identifying the next operations manager finalized a new job description for the position and authorized staff to advertise it and begin accepting applications.
  • At December meetings, the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Water Board discussed compensation and staffing levels. These boards are not committees of council but rather standalone entities governing these two vital infrastructure systems.

Vacancy on Planning Commission

There is a vacancy on the Elkins Planning Commission, and officials are accepting applications from city residents interested in being appointed to fill this volunteer position. Applications, which may be downloaded on this page, should be submitted to the city clerk’s office as soon as possible.

The Elkins Planning Commission, which meets approximately once a month, is an independent body that advises city council on matters having to do with planning and zoning. Membership consists of the mayor and one member of council, joined by five citizen members, all of whom must be residents of Elkins.

The planning commission’s primary duties  include planning and making recommendations for the city’s physical development; recommendation of zoning, or land use, and subdivision laws; and consideration of requests to amend the city’s zoning laws. The commission is not involved with code enforcement or the enforcement of zoning or any other laws.

The Elkins Planning Commission completed the city’s first comprehensive plan, a policy document describing the community’s development goals, in 2015. Under West Virginia law, comprehensive plans are required before any city or county may implement and enforce zoning laws. These plans must be updated every ten years. (Learn more about the Elkins Comprehensive Plan by clicking here.)

Since 2015, the Elkins Planning Commission has been working on an update to the city’s zoning laws, which have not been significantly amended since initial adoption in the 1950s and a revision in the 1970s. The commission’s proposed changes are not yet under consideration by council, and the commission is currently considering and making changes to its draft ordinance in response to public comments. (Learn more about the zoning update by clicking here.)

Follow the below links for more information.

Submit applications to:

Elkins City Clerk
Jessica R. Sutton
jsutton@cityofelkinswv.com
Phone: (304) 636-1414, ext. 1211
401 Davis Avenue, Elkins, WV, 26241

City Hall News: Week of Jan. 3, 2021

Meeting this week are the Elkins Tree Board and council’s Finance Committee and ad hoc Special Hiring Committee. Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m.; the agenda for that meeting will be posted Monday.

The Finance Committee meets Monday at 10 a.m. to consider a funding request for an aerial platform for the Phil Gainer Community Center, a proposal for the purchase of a special-purpose vehicle, and the final disposition of project funds allocated for the city hall parking lot project.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., in a meeting at the Darden House (next door to city hall), the Tree Board elects officers for 2022.

The Special Hiring Committee meets Wednesday at 10 a.m. This ad hoc committee was formed to manage the hiring of a new operations manager. At this meeting, the committee will review applications received to date and consider scheduling interviews.

All meetings are at city hall, unless otherwise stated, and are open to the public. Find agendas here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

New Web Page: Water Outages FAQ

Water leaks and outages affect all water systems. Starting in 2021, however, our system began seeing a significant increase in such incidents, especially in South Elkins. This year, Elkins water system workers have responded to dozens of leaks in South Elkins. Although many of these leaks were repaired “under pressure” and did not require water to be turned off, that part of our city experienced 19 water outages during 2021.

There are various factors contributing to this situation, and fully addressing all of them will take a significant amount of time and money.

Follow this link for answers to frequently asked questions about why this is happening and what we are doing about it. (While you’re at it, please consider signing up for City of Elkins Nixle alerts so you can receive advance notification of water outages, in addition to other important emergency information.)

Addiction Task Force Seeking Building for Services Hub

The mayor’s ad hoc Addiction and Homelessness Task Force provides the following update:

As reported at our recent public forum, one of the task force’s top goals is to create for Elkins a social services hub, similar to the Hazel House of Hope in Morgantown.

Hazel House, located in a former Ramada Inn, was founded with a vision of bringing together many different service providers in one location, to better assist clients struggling with addiction and homelessness. The Morgantown center is already providing feeding, warming, and shelter services, with a long-term goal of also providing a “sobering center” and assistance with obtaining vital records, applying for benefits, and addressing other obstacles to stable employment and housing.

Here in Elkins, the task force is in the exploratory stage of identifying possible locations for such a facility. Our vision is similar to the vision behind Hazel House, although it is too early in the process to say with certainty exactly what services we will be able to offer. The location, size, amenities, and physical structure of the building we ultimately select will play a large role in determining what will be possible. We are hopeful that we will be able to secure a building that will enable us to provide the most vitally needed services not only for Elkins but for neighboring communities as well.

We are currently evaluating four promising sites. We are also working with our community partners to determine what grants, loans, or other financial options would be available to purchase and renovate any one of these locations.  We expect to start submitting funding requests in the first quarter of 2022.

We are committed to keeping the community informed about our progress.  We sincerely appreciate the community showing up and voicing their comments at our public meeting on December 14th.

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