Minutes of a regular meeting of the Town Council of the Town of Marion, Virginia held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building on January 5, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.


PRESENT:  Mayor David P. Helms; Dr. James Gates, Mel Leaman, Bill Weaver, Ken Heath (Excused Early), Mark Warren, Jane Hale and Suzanne Jennings, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Engineer/Assistant Town Manager Cecil Hicks; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Sgt. Wes Thomas; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk (arriving late) and Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets.


INVOCATION/PLEDGE TO THE FLAG:  Rev. Alan Gray rendered the invocation.  Mayor Helms led the Pledge to the Flag.


VISITOR:   Rev. Alan Gray, Teresa McNeil, James McNeil, Ron Parsons, Jeff Spickard


MINUTES:  Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes of the meeting held December 15, 2008 were approved as written and distributed.  Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Dr. Gates, and Messrs Weaver, Heath, Leaman, and Warren voted affirmatively.


RESOLUTION OF CONTRATULATIONS FOR BLAKE V. RICHARDSON ON THE OCCASION OF EARNING THE RANK OF EAGLE SCOUT:  Mayor Helms informed Town Council that Mr. Richardson was unable to attend and asked that this item be continued.


UPDATE ON POLICE DEPARTMENT 12-HOUR SHIFT WHICH BEGINS JANUARY 3 – POLICE CHIEF:  Chief Roberts advised that the Marion Police Department began working 12-hour shifts on January 3, 2009.  All officers have signed off on the regulations with the new schedule.


SIGN-UPS FOR VML/VACo LEGISLATIVE DAY:  VML/VACo Legislative Day will be held on February 5, 2009 at the Richmond Marriott.  Members of Town Council were encouraged to notify the Clerk if they plan to attend.


UPDATE ON DEED FOR LAND OFF OLD PRATER LANE RAILROAD CROSSING:   Mr. Hicks stated that the plat has been completed.  Mr. Leaman moved that, as the Town Attorney was not in attendance, the discussion on the requested easement be continued.  Mrs. Jennings seconded the motion.  Council approved the same unanimously.


APPROVAL OF FINAL PAY REQUEST ON WATER TREATMENT PLANT:  The 17th and final pay request, in the amount of $9,264, was presented for approval.  Mr. Spickard recommended that the payment be approved.  He further noted that $28,570.55 remains in loan proceeds.  Mr. Clark advised that the staff is considering several options to use these funds.   Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Heath, and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the request to pay the final bill (#17) was approved.   Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Dr. Gates, Messrs Leaman, Heath, Weaver, and Warren voted affirmatively.


Dr. Gates asked that Mr. Spickard check for cracks in the sediment basin.  This was a problem in the past and hopefully has been remedied.   It was noted that four (4) years remain on the warranty for the basin. 


Mayor Helms expressed the Town’s appreciation to Mr. Spickard for keeping the Town Council apprised of the Water Treatment Plant Update and the Water Tank Renovation Projects.


PROPOSED CLOSING OF ADOLESCENCE MENTAL HEALTH UNIT:  Ron Parsons and Teresa McNeil were present to discuss the proposed closing of the Adolescence Mental Health Unit at SWVMHI.   The unit, as part of Governor Kaine’s reduction in services plan, is slated to close on March 1, 2009.   The unit employs 37 individuals, including 9 of the Hospital Education Program, with a budget of approximately $1.5 million.  Closure of the facility would result in a permanent workforce reduction for the community.  The Adolescent Unit at SWVMHI is the only source of public inpatient services for children ages 13-17 west of Roanoke.  The unit has 16 beds and serves approximately 250 children annually.   If closed, the children would be placed far from their families.   The nearest facility would be in Salem.   


When asked about the difference between Keystone and the Adolescent Unit, Mr. Parsons explained that Keystone is a residential, long-term facility.  The Adolescent Unit is an acute mental health care facility.   The average stay of patients at the Adolescent Unit is eleven (11) days.   Mr. Parsons explained that this unit is needed in our region and community.   Discussion ensued.  Town Council members agreed that the Adolescent Unit is a vital service to our region.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Heath, and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, Mr. Heath and Town staff will prepare a Resolution of Support for the SWVMHI Adolescent Unit.  The same will be presented at the 1/20/09 meeting for approval.


ACCEPTANCE OF ROOF BID AT SEWER TREATMENT PLANT UV BUILDING:  Three (3) bids were received for the roof at the Sewer Treatment Plant.  The apparent low bidder was Marion Roofing at $4,411.50.  Other bidders were Frizzell Construction ($8,500) and Ralph Price ($6,000).  Upon motion of Mr. Heath, seconded by Mrs. Hale, and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the bid was awarded to Marion Roofing.   Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Dr. Gates, and Messrs Leaman, Heath, Warren, and Weaver voted affirmatively.  Mr. Clark noted that the bid is well under the $12,000 budgeted for this project. 


Town Attorney Mark Fenyk arrived.


REQUEST FROM SMYTH COUNTY ON SEWER EASEMENT OFF ROCKY HOLLOW ROAD:  Smyth County is finalizing the plan the install sewer service to the Groseclose area.  The County had requested a permanent 20 foot wide easement and 40 foot wide temporary construction easement.  Mr. Clark and Mr. Hicks had viewed the area and report that by allowing the easement, it would enhance the property.  An easement was presented for the Town’s approval and signature.  Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mr. Leaman and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the easement was approved.    Dr. Gates, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Heath, Warren, and Weaver voted affirmatively.


ORDINANCE COMMITTEE ON PROPOSED ANIMAL WASTE ORDINANCE AND EXISTING ANIMALS RUNNING AT LARGE ORDINANCE:  Mrs. Jennings reported that the Ordinance Committee discussed the proposed Animal Waste Ordinance at length.  Involved in the discussion were the Committee Members, Chief Roberts and Animal Control Officer Lee Farmer.   The problem arises with enforcement of such an ordinance and the lack of willingness for complainants to testify or press charges.   It was the recommendation that no action be taken at this time. 


On the existing Town Code Section.14.2, farm animals, such as, goats, pigs, chickens and ducks, etc. may be kept in Town but not allowed to run at large.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Leaman and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, this section should be reviewed by the Ordinance Committee and continued.


WATER COMMITTEE ON WATER LINE AT OLD VIRGINIA HOUSE (CURRENTLY WELLBORN) IN ATKINS:   Mr. Hicks presented a map of the existing line formerly used exclusively by Virginia House Furniture.   Most of the line is currently not in use.  Dr. Gates suggested that the Town tap off the water to the part of the line not in use and consider the request from Mr. Copenhaver for taps on the line.   Mr. Hicks suggested that the Town request permission from the railroad to extend a one inch line thru an existing culvert under the railroad.  Mr. Hicks was asked to secure costs on this project.  Mr. Clark was asked to contact Smyth County concerning extending water service to two (2) county properties.   Upon motion of Mr. Heath, seconded by Mrs. Jennings, and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was continued. 


MARION DOWNTOWN REPORT:  Mr. Heath reported that he had distributed “Tips for Small Business Survival”.  Contact had been made with Mary Linda Carmines, Bill Jones daughter concerning the proposed Mt. Dew Museum, and the discouraging news that no funds were awarded from the Tobacco Commission for the Farmer’s Market.


NEW BUSINESS:   Grand Opening for the Pitter Patter Pathways Daycare will be conducted on January 9th at noon.


RESCHEDULE TOWN COUNCIL MEETING:  Mayor Helms advised that due to the holiday on January 19th, Town Council meeting will be conducted on January 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm.


ACORNS FROM THE CRYING TREE:   Mayor Helms stated that a professor at VPI has requested acorns from different parts of Virginia.  These acorns will be planted as part of President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.  The professor has specifically requested acorns from the”Crying Tree” located in Marion. 


SONG OF THE MOUNTAINS PROGRAMS:  Mayor Helms expressed pleasure that the Song of the Mountains Programming has brought many, many visitors to Marion.   The most recent program, held 1/3/09, was again a very entertaining and successful evening at the historic Lincoln Theatre.  


POLICE DEPARTMENT:   Chief Roberts advised that the MPD is assisting Smyth County Sheriff’s Department in light of the loss of one of their officers, Deputy Chris Paschal.  Mayor Helms noted that the County Sheriff’s Department had assisted our officers in a similar fashion last year. 


PERSONNEL COMMITTEE ON DOWNTOWN DIRECTOR TRANSITION:  Mrs. Jennings requested Closed Session to discuss this matter.  Mr. Heath was excused from the meeting.


CLOSED SESSION:  Pursuant to Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, Section 2.2-3711 (A) (1) and upon motion of Mrs. Jennings seconded by Dr. Gates and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Council entered into Closed Session to discuss personnel concerning the transition of the Downtown Director to a Town of Marion employee.   Mrs. Jennings moved that Town Council return to Open Session and that it be known that only the matter identified in the motion and allowed under Closed Session was discusses.   Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.   Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Warren and Weaver voted affirmatively.


Upon motion, duly seconded, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the meeting was adjourned.


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Mayor                                                                          Clerk