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 February 2, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.


PRESENT:  Mayor David P. Helms; Dr. James Gates, Mel Leaman, Bill Weaver, Ken Heath, Mark Warren, and Jane Hale, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Engineer/Assistant Town Manager Cecil Hicks; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Lt. Rex Anders; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk; and Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets.


INVOCATION/PLEDGE TO THE FLAG:  Cecil Hicks rendered the invocation.  Mayor Helms led the Pledge to the Flag.


VISITORS:  Jim Owens, Shirley Blackwell, Charles Conner


MINUTES:  Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mr. Heath and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes of the meeting conducted on 1/20/09 were approved as written and distributed.   Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Heath, Warren, and Weaver voted affirmatively.


RESOLUTION:  Upon motion of Mr. Heath, seconded by Dr. Gates and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the Resolution in honor of Larry L. Davis was adopted.






WHEREAS, Larry L. Davis was born in Jefferson, North Carolina on October 6, 1942;


WHEREAS, Larry L. Davis retired as C.E.O. of Royal Mouldings, Inc. of Marion in        2006; and


WHEREAS, Larry L. Davis was active in the industrial development of the area as well

            as community affairs.  Mr. Davis’ leadership was immeasurable.  He was selected

            Business Person of the year 2004 by the Smyth County Chamber of Commerce.


WHEREAS, Larry L. Davis’ other interests included Archeological Society of Virginia,   becoming a lifetime chapter member. 


WHEREAS, Larry L. Davis relocated to Georgia to be near his family after his      retirement, his legacy to Smyth County will remain due to his unselfish         contributions to our businesses, industry, and community.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Town of Marion                       hereby officially honors Larry L. Davis for his service to our Town and offers our     heartfelt sympathy and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time.


RESOLVED, 2nd day of February 2009.


SIGNED:                                                                                ATTEST:


________________________________                                _______________________

David P. Helms, Mayor                                                          Dixie O. Sheets, Town Clerk



Mayor Helms stated that originals of the Resolution will be sent to Mr. Davis’ daughters.  Mr. Jim Owens a former supervisor at Royal Mouldings was present and thanked the Council for the recognition and Resolution in honor of Larry Davis.  He added that it was well deserved.


EXECUTION OF DEED OF GIFT FOR PROPERTY NEAR OLD PRATER LANE RAILROAD CROSSING:  Mr. Fenyk advised that the deed and plat have been recorded.  Mr. Hicks was to contact VDOT.  Mr. Fenyk added that the Railroad may request additional finances and renewed permits.  Originally the Town paid $2,000 in insurance fees with the Town accepting liability.   Dr. Gates expressed concern that the Town of Marion should not be responsible for perpetuity.  He further stated that the Prater Lane Railroad Crossing Project began at the request of VDOT and N/S Railroad.  It was not pursued by the Town.    Mr. Fenyk will get clarification on any additional funds expected from the Town.  Mr. Clark stated that he is scheduled to meet with Mr. Barrett in Richmond this week to discuss the matter.


DEVELOPMENT OF PROPOSED SIX-YEAR PLAN:  Mr. Hicks stated that several projects have been identified for possible use of the funds previously obligated, by VDOT, for the S. Church Street Project.  Deadline for proposed projects must be received by 2/10/09 to be considered for these funds.


APPROVAL OF WASSONA CIRCLE WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PLANNING GRANT-NEW RIVER HIGHLANDS RESOURCE COUNCIL:  Mayor Helms welcomed Mrs. Shirley Blackwell and Mr. Charles Conner and thanked them for their support on Arbor Day and service on the Marion Tree Commission.  Mr. Conner stated that the Tree Board has an opportunity to receive a $1,500 grant to perform some much needed landscape and tree improvement on Wassona Circle.   The grant is through the New River-Highlands RC&D Council and will demonstrate Best Management Practices for water quality in the category of storm water mitigation.  The project will include rain gardens, bioretention/filter strips and removal of some of the larger trees.  Dr. Gates stated that some residents may have issues with removal of the larger trees.   Mrs. Blackwell assured Dr. Gates that any tree taken down should be removed prior to falling down.  She added that this is Phase 1 of several phases.  Mr. Leaman asked that the trees that are slated to come down be identified.  Mr. Conner noted that these are listed on the Tree Inventory.  It was requested that when these trees are selected that they be marked for identification.  “The exact location of these water quality improvement plantings will be determine by New River-Highlands RC&D, Council, and Staff according to input from Miss Utility, Marion’s Town Manager, Town Engineer, Marion Tree  Commission and residents of Wassona Circle.”  There will be no cost to the Town.  The Tree Board requested a letter of support for the project.”  Upon motion of Mr. Heath, seconded by Dr. Gates and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, approval was granted to write a letter of support of the Marion Tree Commission Wassona Circle Water Quality Improvement Plantings Project and work within the Town resources.    Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Warren, Weaver, Leaman and Heath voted affirmatively.


“CRYING TREE”-REMARKABLE TREES OF VIRGINIA:   Mr. Conner informed Council that the “Crying Tree” has been selected as the second most significant tree in Virginia.  He noted that the story of the tree is documented in a book just released entitled Remarkable Trees of Virginia.  He loaned a copy of the book to Council to read about our famous tree.


ARBOR DAY:  Arbor Day is slated for April 24 from Noon-1:00 at Wassona Circle.  Everyone is encouraged to attend. 


ATKINS WATER LOSS:  Mr. Hicks stated that on January 17, 2009, due to a leak at the former Virginia House Furniture (now owned by Wellborne), the Atkins Tank completely drained and parts of Atkins were without water.  The estimated loss of water was 713,481.  Now that the eight (8) inch line has been located, staff recommended that an 8 inch valve be installed on the main line to prevent this from happening again.  They further recommend that the Town install a six (6) inch line up to Industrial Welding property line with a fire hydrant.  A one (1) inch line would tie over to Industrial Welding.  Cost of the project is estimated at $21,384.  It was noted that in order to proceed with the project, a letter from Wellborne authorizing the change and an easement would be required.   Mr. Clark stated that the Wellborne building is not heated and this could happen again.  The project could be done in-house and the cost would only be materials.  Mr. Weaver asked if insurance would reimburse the cost of the lost water.  Mr. Fenyk answered that the Town is pursuing this matter.  Dr. Gates moved that the Town proceed with the project, weather permitting, issuance of necessary permits obtained and a letter from Wellborne received.  The funds would be spent from budgeted water & sewer contingency monies.   Mr. Warren seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Heath, Weaver and Warren voted affirmatively.


REAL ESTATE COMMITTEE ON TOWN PROPERTY BETWEEN HAPPY’S & HUNGATE BUSINESS SERVICES:  Mr. Fenyk had advised at the sale of the Happy’s Building, the Town agreed to have parking available on the Town parking lot on North Main Street.  Mr. Leaman thanked the Real Estate Committee for the many hours of work on this matter and moved that the issue be dropped from the agenda.  Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was dropped from the agenda.


RECREATION COMMITTEE ON PROPOSED PAVILION AT RIVERBEND PARK:  Dr. Gates stated that he had met with the Recreation Committee, with Mr. Bill Huber in attendance.   Mr. Bill Thompson had informed them that the Rotary Club(s) may apply for grants for these types of projects.  Mr. Huber will work with Mr. Hicks and Mr. Clark on positioning the amphitheatre on the proposed site of the old sewage treatment plant on Baughman Avenue.  It was noted that only electrical hookup would be required on the site.   Parking was also discussed.  It was determined that, during an event, a portion of Baughman Avenue could be closed to thru traffic and allow parking in that area.  Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mr. Heath and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was continued. 


FIRE EQUIPMENT ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT EQUIPMENT GRANT:    Mr. Clark stated that he spoke with Rural Development concerning a grant for turnout gear and breathing apparatus for the Marion Volunteer Fire Department.   Currently, the Town is awaiting a letter of conditions.    He added that the grant also involves two police vehicles.  The total of the grant is $78,000 and is a 55%-45% match.


PROPOSED CLOSURE OF VIRGINIA’S PUBLIC CHILD AND ADOLESCENT INPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS:  Mr. Heath encouraged those attending the VML Legislative Day on February 5 to discuss the impact that this would have on the communities of Southwest Virginia.   The Town supports keeping these facilities open.


THIRD ANNUAL SMYTH COUNTY CELEBRATION:   Mayor Helms announced the dates for the Smyth County Celebration.  It will be held on June 25, 26 and 27 at the Davis Valley Winery.  This event has grown each year.


599 FUNDS TO BE CUT:  Mr. Helms encouraged those attending the VML Legislative Day on February 5th to discuss the problems of small localities with the proposed cuts of 599 Funds with our legislators.


WEE READ PROGRAM:  Mayor Helms read a portion of a letter from Mrs. Sara Jennings thanking the Town for support of the Wee Read Program.


GARDEN CLUBS:  Mayor Helms stated that the Garden Clubs will be placing hanging baskets in the downtown area again this year.  He reminded staff that it is the Town’s responsibility to water these baskets.


VML LEGISLATIVE MEETING:  Mayor Helms asked that those who have registered for the VML Legislative Meeting remain to discuss transportation arrangements.


ORDINANCE  - PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE TOWN OF MARION CODE OF ORDINANCE ARTICLE VI-DOWNTOWN SERVICE TAX DISTRICT:   Mr. Fenyk provided members with a draft of Section 70-184 (a)(b)(c) of the Town of Marion Code of Ordinances.  A Public Hearing will be conducted on February 17, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF MARION, VIRGINIA, that Section 70-184 Purpose of the Assessment should be adopted as a part of the Town Code for the Town of Marion and is hereby amended and enacted as follows:


Sec. 70-184. Purpose of the Assessment.

           (a)      The assessments collected from the Downtown General Service and Assessment District shall be paid to the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor. The funds received and collected by the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor, as a result of the tax imposed on the Downtown Special Tax District by the Town of Marion, shall then be immediately delivered back to the Town of Marion to be used to help pay for projects identified as needed by the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor, and the Town of Marion. However, the Assessments collected from the Downtown General Service and Assessment District shall be used only for the following uses: Economic Development Services, beautification and landscaping, public parking, sponsorship and promotion of recreational and cultural activities, and such other services, events or activities as are included within the activities described in the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, § 15 .1-18 .2(B), and that will enhance the public use and enjoyment of and the public safety, public convenience and public well-being within the general special service and assessment district.

(b) Taxes collected pursuant to this article shall be segregated so as to enable the same to be expended only in the Downtown Service District in which raised.

                      (c) Disbursements to the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor, shall not be less than quarterly beginning on the last quarter of 1996, but more often if deemed necessary by the Town. The Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor, shall then deliver the funds received as described back to the Town, no less than three (3) business days after being received by the Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor. The Marion Downtown Revitalization Association, Inc., or its successor, is not authorized to use these funds for any other purpose other than to be returned to the Town for the Town to expend for the purposes and places described in paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

Passed in Council this 2nd day of February, 2009.

________________________Mayor                                   ____________________Clerk





HOUSING BOARD MEETING:  Mr. Clark stated that a Housing Board Meeting has been scheduled for February 11 to discuss applying for grants for the Pearl Avenue and Buchanan Street rehabilitation projects.


SCHOOLHOUSE:   Mr. Clark thanked Mr. Heath for his assistance in writing a letter to County Administrator Ed Whitmore concerning the County’s plan with regard to the Old Schoolhouse.  Minor adjustments to the letter were made and will be mailed 2/3/09.


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



_______________________________                        ___________________________

Mayor                                                                             Clerk