City Hall News: Week of August 9, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., August 7, 2021: Meeting this week are council’s Public Safety Committee and ARPA Advisory Committee. City hall will be closed Friday.

On Monday at 10 a.m., the Public Safety Committee will hear a request to lower the speed limit on Boundary Avenue. The committee will also begin prioritizing dilapidated structures for enforcement action during fiscal year 2022 and hear reports from the city’s public safety officials.

The ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee meets Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to continue consideration of possible uses for funds received by Elkins under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The city has been awarded approximately $3 million, half of which has been received and half of which will be disbursed next summer.

Elkins City Hall will be closed on Friday for electrical work being performed as part of the parking-lot project. As a result of this electrical work, the building will be without power all day. For more information about the parking-lot project, see: www.bit.ly/ElkinsCityHallParkingLot

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City Hall Flag at Half Mast for Doris George

The U.S. flag at Elkins City Hall will be at half mast Tuesday, August 3 in honor of Doris Gail George, who died Sunday at Davis Medical Center at the age of 75.

Ms. George served as an Elkins city councilor from April 1993 until March 2005. During her time in office, she was the long-serving chair of council’s Personnel Committee and the council representative on the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. She was also a small business owner here in town.

Current and past mayors, councilors, and city staff remember her as a helpful and effective colleague and mentor.

City Hall News: Week of July 26

Elkins, W. Va., July 24, 2021: Council is currently reviewing a proposed new zoning ordinance, the product of six years of work by the Elkins Planning Commission. To learn more about this proposed update to the city’s zoning code, the current version of which dates to the 1950s, visit the city website: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning-update.

For the Tuesday 4 p.m. meeting of the Water Board, the agenda includes an update on water meter replacements, consideration of revenue sources for expenditures related to recent water main breaks, and the reinstatement of a team dedicated to systematic replacement of aging water-system infrastructure.

Second-quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns are due to the Treasurer’s Department by July 31.

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City Hall News: Week of July 19, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., July 17, 2021: Next week will see meetings of council’s Public Safety Committee and Personnel Committee. Also meeting are the Elkins Sanitary Board, the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. The Elkins Planning Commission presents its proposed zoning ordinance to council on Wednesday.

The Public Safety Committee, meeting Monday at 10 a.m., will continue its discussion of body-worn and dashboard cameras for the police department and take up questions about the interpretation of the city’s vacant structures ordinance.

The Sanitary Board meets Monday at 3:15 p.m. to hear an update about the sewer/stormwater separation project and review invoices and financial statements.

On Monday at 3:45 p.m., there will be a special meeting of the Personnel Committee to review staffing in the Operations Department and consider a new software tool offered by AlignHR, the city’s human resources contractor.

Tuesday’s 4 p.m. meeting of the Historic Landmarks Commission has an agenda that includes discussion of the possible expansion of the downtown historic district and an update about Maplewood Cemetery.

On Wednesday at 5 p.m., the Planning Commission will present its proposed zoning ordinance to council. The commission has since 2015 been working on updating the city’s zoning laws, which have not been significantly updated since adoption in the 1950s. This is an informational presentation; the proposed ordinance cannot be adopted until after two additional public hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. This meeting will be live streamed on the Elkins City Hall Facebook and YouTube pages.

Also at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation Commission will select a bid for the replacement of the gym floor and hear reports.

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Elkins council meetings to be streamed online

Elkins, W. Va., July 14, 2021: Elkins City Council meetings can now be viewed online, thanks to a newly installed streaming system that transmits both audio and video from the council chamber in city hall to the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Meetings can be viewed live and will also be archived on both sites for later review.

Although technical issues encountered using commercial conferencing services during the pandemic drove home the need for a better way to share council meetings with remote viewers, city officials had already been thinking about ways to make council meetings even more accessible.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase transparency and provide the public with as much information as possible about their city government,” says Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “The strategic plan council adopted in 2018 included a goal of increasing public engagement, and broadcasting council meetings is a great step in that direction.”

City of Elkins contracted with Electronic Specialty, the same company that modernized the council-chamber sound system in early 2020, to install a streaming system. Electronic Specialty recommended a solution that uses a broadcast-quality high-definition PTZOptics camera with a 12x optical zoom to capture video. Digital audio is captured from the chamber’s new sound board. An AV encoder streams the resulting signal to the city’s social media pages.

Electronic Specialty based its recommendations for this system on its extensive experience deploying similar solutions throughout the state.

“We’ve set up streaming systems for a lot of churches, county commissions, courts, and even the state legislature, and we’re always evaluating new equipment,” says Mark Wood, the AV manager for Electronic Specialty. “The PTZOptics camera is an excellent balance of cost and quality for this kind of setup.”

The overall cost of the new streaming system was about $3,500.

To allow city officials and staff to learn and test the system, at first only council meetings will be broadcast. In the fall, city staff will evaluate the possibility of broadcasting committee meetings as well.

According to Wood, Elkins’s new streaming system puts the city ahead of the curve.

“There aren’t many cities in West Virginia we know of that have deployed this kind of capability,” he says. “Elkins is kind of on the cutting edge by going this route.”

Sutton agrees that the new system should be seen as a point of pride for Elkins officials, residents, and business owners alike.

“Council makes decisions that affects thousands of people, including residents and business owners, and all of those people have the right to observe the process and understand how their representatives are arriving at those decisions,” she says. “By making it simple and convenient to view meetings online, the new streaming system really underlines our commitment to transparency and public engagement.”

The meetings will be streamed on:

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City Hall News: Week of July 12, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., July 10, 2021: Meeting this week are council’s ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee and Rules & Ordinances Committee. Council meets Thursday.

Meeting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., the ARPA Advisory Committee will continue its consideration of possible uses for the approximately $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds awarded to Elkins. Funds will be disbursed this year and next and must be obligated no later than 2024.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. The committee will consider proposed additions to the city’s home rule authorities and a request for additional safety requirements when single-family houses are converted to multi-family dwellings.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda, which may be adjusted through Tuesday, currently includes allocation of excess FY 2021 revenues and reappointments to the Elkins Tree Board, the Board of Trustees of the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library, and the IPMC Appeals Board.

There remain two openings on the Board of Zoning Appeals. This board hears appeals of zoning decisions and will play an even more important role after the pending adoption of the updated zoning code. To learn more, including how to apply, see: www.bit.ly/Elkins-Boards-Commissions.

This week’s meetings will be held in person in the council chamber on the second floor of Elkins City Hall (401 Davis Avenue).

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City Hall News: Week of July 5, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., July 3, 2021: Elkins City Hall will be closed Monday, but garbage will be picked up on the normal schedule. Meeting this week are council’s Personnel Committee, Finance Committee, and ad hoc Fire Chief Hiring Committee.

The Personnel Committee meets Thursday at noon. The committee will discuss the topics of a part-time humane officer, a compensation review by the city’s human resources contractor, consideration of changes to policies concerning temporary employees, and a part-time code enforcement officer.

The ad hoc Fire Chief Hiring Committee meets Thursday at 1 p.m. to plan interviews. The committee is interviewing five candidates starting Friday.

At its 9 a.m. Friday meeting, the Finance Committee will take up the following agenda items: FY21 excess revenues, YouthBuild partnership, American Legion Post 29 baseball team, and fire chief salary.

Second quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax forms have been mailed. Tax returns are due July 31.

The regular meeting of the Elkins Tree Board has been cancelled. The board will not meet in July.

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City Hall News for Week of June 28, 2021

Elkins, W. Va., June 26, 2021: Meeting next week are the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Planning Commission. Business license renewals are due Wednesday, and council meets Thursday.

The Sanitary Board, which oversees the city’s sewer system, meets Monday at 3:15 to review invoices and financial statements. The board will hear an update on the Phase II Sewer Project (sewer/stormwater separation project). More about this project: www.bit.ly/Phase2Sewer.

City business license renewals are due to the Treasurer’s Department by Wednesday. B&O taxes must be current in order for your renewal to be processed.

Meeting virtually Thursday at 1 p.m., the Elkins Planning Commission—which has been at work updating the city’s zoning laws since 2016—is set to finalize its proposed draft and forward it to council. The commission will present an overview of the proposed ordinance to council on July 21. Log-in information for Thursday’s meeting is here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda may be adjusted through Tuesday. Current items include the final readings of ordinances revising statutory language concerning the Elkins Tree Board, abandonment of public rights-of-way, and nuisance properties. Also receiving a final reading is an ordinance finalizing the recent codification and publication of city ordinances. The city’s external affairs specialist will present an orientation to the city website.

To further protect public and employee safety, Operations Department staff members will undergo flagger/barricade training this week, courtesy of the West Virginia Rural Water Association.

Unless otherwise stated, the above meetings are in person at Elkins City Hall. Meeting times and agendas are available here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

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Elkins Officials Remind Public of Fireworks Rules

Elkins, W. Va., June 25, 2021: With the approach of Independence Day, City of Elkins officials want residents to stay safe, remain courteous, and follow city laws when using fireworks.

The state legislature reduced statewide restrictions on fireworks in 2016. However, per Elkins city code, “it shall be unlawful for any person to use, shoot, or discharge consumer fireworks within the City limits.” Violators of the city fireworks ordinance may be fined as much as $500.

“Consumer fireworks—which include firecrackers, rockets, Roman candles, and that sort of thing—are illegal inside city limits,” said Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett. “Basically, if it’s a handheld device like a sparkler, or if it’s a ground-based device like fountains, snakes, or smoke bombs, it’s allowed. If it fires something into the air or explodes, it’s against the law in Elkins.”

Fireworks that fire into the air or explode are a significant cause of emergency room visits each summer, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In a recent year, according to an NSC press release, “eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents.”

Children are especially vulnerable to fireworks-related injuries. “Of those 12,000 injuries, 50% were to children and young adults under age 20,” the NSC release states. “And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade, or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.”

In addition to potentially causing injury, fireworks can terrify pets and may trigger adverse reactions in people suffering from PTSD, including veterans.

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EPD Seizes 1.7 Pounds of Meth and Three Firearms

  • Largest methamphetamine seizure in EPD history
  • Citizen information contributed to probable cause for search warrant

While on routine patrol on River Street in Elkins this morning, EPD officers D.T. Sayre (Patrolman First Class) and N.G. Elbon (Patrolman) contacted two individuals, Eric Armstrong and Roger Ware.

After obtaining consent for a pat-down search for officer safety, EPD found Armstrong to be in possession of a firearm and a personal-use amount of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine. Arm strong was detained for further investigation. A search of his backpack found approximately 135 grams of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine.

After attempting to flee officers, Ware was also found to be in possession of a firearm, as well as a digital scale and baggies.

Based on this encounter and information about Armstrong received from the public, officers received and executed a search warrant for Armstrong’s residence in Heavener Acres, which he shares with Krystal Ann Dellagatta.

Officers contacted and detained Dellagatta at this residence. She directed officers to three safes hidden under a bed and containing additional amounts of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine. Officers also found ledgers, scales, and other items consistent with the ongoing distribution and sale of controlled substances.

Armstrong, Ware, and Dellagatta were transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

In total, this investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 750 grams (1.7 pounds) of a crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine and three firearms. The street value of the alleged methamphetamine is approximately $85,000.

“This is the largest methamphetamine seizure in EPD history,” says EPD Chief Travis Bennett.

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