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 March 16, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

 

PRESENT:   Vice-Mayor Dr. James L. Gates; Suzanne Jennings, Jane Hale, Mel Leaman, Mark Warren, and Bill Weaver, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk; Community & Economic Development Manager Ken Heath, Purchasing Agent B. J. Hamm; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Lt. Rex Anders and Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets.

 

INVOCATION/PLEDGE TO THE FLAG:  Mr. Warren rendered the invocation.  Dr. Gates led the Pledge to the Flag.

 

VISITORS:  David Barrett, Joe Ellis, Bill Buchanan, Shirley Blackwell, Evelyn Lawrence, Charles Conner, Wythe Morris, Dave Richert, Joe Beattie.

 

MINUTES:  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes were approved as written and distributed.  Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, and Warren voted affirmatively.

 

MRPDC-PRESENTATION OF SERVICE-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DAVE BARRETT:   MRPDC Executive Director David Barrett was present to inform Town Council of the programs and services offered by the MRPDC.  He noted that the MRPDC has provided services for 40 years.  A celebration will be held in September at the Annual Meeting to be held in Wytheville.   The full Commission meeting will be conducted at Holston Hills Country Club on April 2 at 6 p.m. with their Economic Development partners and will be sponsored by Smyth County.   Mr. Barrett stated that the MRPDC is much diversified.  They offer technical assistance in grant writing and management of the same, assistance with state and federal funding agencies, water & wastewater projects, housing projects and economic development to the localities in their district.  The Marion Downtown Streetscape III is one of their current projects.  He encouraged the Council to identify any potential projects for 2010, as they are currently preparing work schedules.  Stimulus funds will be coming available and the MRPDC staff will work with DHCD, CDBG, or ARC to secure funds for eligible projects.  He added that there has been no relaxation of conditions for stimulus funds and early preparation is essential to successful applications.

 

TREE COMMISSION-STORM WATER MITIGATION-WASSONA CIRCLE:  Mr. Dave Richert, representing the RC&D Council and Virginia Department of Forestry presented an overview of the Wassona Circle Water Quality Improvement Plantings Storm Water Mitigation Project. Grant funds are from the Virginia Department of Forestry.  A design of the central and south planting units was presented.  Picture and detailed descriptions of the selected trees were also provided.  Initially twelve trees will be planted.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver, Council approved the design for this project.

 

SONG OF THE MOUNTAINS:   Joe Ellis and Bill Buchanan were present on behalf of Song of the Mountains.  Mr. Ellis stated that the Song of the Mountains is in its fifth season.   It is currently the only venue for Bluegrass music on television.   Song of the Mountains is now partnered with UNC-TV.  UNC-TV, funded by the General Assembly and affiliated with the University.  The plan is to produce 5,000 Song of the Mountains episodes this year.    The new partnership will provide access to the program to potentially 67 million viewers, nationwide.  The budget for 2010 is $193,000.  The request to the Town of Marion is $15,000.   Tourism is the main plan for the Song of the Mountains, by bringing more foot traffic downtown.  Most recently 3 tour buses brought visitors to Marion to attend the Song of the Mountain performance.   Mr. Ellis hopes that visitors will explore other opportunities in the area.   Mr. Ellis cited several attractions and proposed attractions that are or hope to be available to visitors

 

ADOPTION OF CDBG RELATED NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY, GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE, ANTI-DISPLACEMENT CERTIFICATION AND LOCAL BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT PLAN:   Mr. Clark explained that these documents are required to be adopted as part of the grant application to CDBG.  The final public hearing on the specific projects will be conducted at 7 p.m. on April 6.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Leaman and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES the policies were adopted. 

 

CLARIFICATION OF FILLING COUNCIL SEAT:  Ken Heath resigned his Council seat on February 28.  His term would have expired on June 30, 2010.  Smyth County Registrar Sandy Elswick advised the following from the State Board of Elections: “The appointee will serve the unexpired term.   The Code of Virginia 1950, as Amended, Section 24.2-226 establishes the Court’s necessity to call the Special Election at the next ensuing May General (5/4/10) Election.  Sub-paragraph B further establishes, “…no election to fill a vacancy shall be ordered or held if the general election at which it is to be called is scheduled within 60 days of the end of the term of office to be filled.”  Therefore no Special Election is necessary.”   Mr. Fenyk reminded Council that the position must be filled by appointment within 45 days or the Courts will appoint a replacement.

 

LETTER TO RAILROAD REGARDING CLOSING PRATER LANE RAILROAD CROSSING:  Mr. Fenyk advised that he had written a letter to Mr. James S. McKay, AECOM, concerning Norfolk Southern Railway Company advising that the Town is not willing to provide them with indemnification.  The Town had previously paid a fee for the permits and would pay no additional fees of any type for this project.   To date, there has been no response from the Railroad.

 

ACCOUNTS:  Mrs. Jennings moved that the accounts be paid in the amount of $608,796.28.  Mrs. Hale seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES.  Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Weaver, Warren and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

INVESTMENTS:  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, the Investment Report was approved as presented.   Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Weaver, Warren and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

RESOLUTION TO PETITION VIRGINIA’S FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES TO SPONSOR A GRANT FOR BUILDING A MODEL 21ST CENTURY RAIL “STEEL INTERSTATE” SERVICE IN THE I-81 CORRIDOR: A resolution was presented to petition Virginia’s Federal representatives to sponsor a grant for building a model 21st Century rail “Steel Interstate” service in the I-81 Corridor to demonstrate fast rail freight and passenger service.  Upon motion of Mrs. Hale, seconded by Mr. Weaver, and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, the Resolution was adopted.  Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Weaver, Warren and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

FRANCHISE WITH TELEPHONE COMPANY:  Mr. Fenyk provided a draft copy of an Ordinance granting a franchise of United Telephone Company-Southeast, Inc. D/B/A Embarq to provide telephone service within the Town of Marion.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Leaman and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, this matter was referred to the Ordinance Committee.

 

RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT FROM SOUTH MAIN STREET WATER AND MARION TANK PROJECTS FROM HEALTH DEPARTMENT STIMULUS PACKAGE:  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, Council adopted a resolution to apply for funding from the Virginia Department of Health Financial Construction Assistance Program to fund the Marion 365,000 Gallon Water Storage Tank Rehabilitation Project in an amount that shall not exceed $100,000.  Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Warren, and Weaver voted affirmatively.

 

Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, Council adopted a resolution to apply for funding from the Virginia Department of Health Financial Construction Assistance Program to fund the South Main Street Water Line Replacement Project in an amount that shall not exceed $163,350.   Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Warren, Weaver, and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

REAL ESTATE COMMITTEE ON MS. SLEMP’S REQUEST TO RENT THE LOT BETWEEN OLD HAPPY’S AND HUNGATE’S ON NORTH MAIN STREET:  Mr. Warren moved that the property be rented after advertising for sealed bid seasonal contract.  Season to be determined by the Town Manager and cost of advertising will be paid by the successful bidder.  Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES. 

 

FINANCE COMMITTEE ON STREET SWEEPER:  Mr. Leaman expressed concern that a new sweeper machine be properly operated and maintained.   He also stated that it should be used on all streets.   Mr. Warren advised that the Company selling the sweeper will provide on-site instruction on the use and maintenance of the machine.  Mr. Warren moved that the Johnson MX450 street sweeper be purchased from Carolina Industrial Equipment, in the amount of $146,610 contingent that delivery is on or after June 10 and that funding be secured.    Bids will be requested to finance this equipment over a period of five (5) years.   Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES.   Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Weaver, Warren, and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

WATER COMMITTEE ON PLACEMENT OF FIRE METER AT SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA CORRECTIONS INSTITUTE:  Mr. Hicks presented an estimate for the installation of an 8” Fire Series Meter assembly with strainer at the SWVa Corrections Institute:  Mr. Hicks reported that the cost of this project would be approximately $20,247.57.   The Department of Corrections has agreed to pay 50% of the cost of this meter.  The Town’s share of the cost would be taken from the Water Escrow Funds.  Mr. Leaman moved that the Town proceed with the project and work with the Finance Director on funding.  Mrs. Jennings seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES.   Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Warren and Weaver voted affirmatively.

 

REQUEST FROM SMYTH COUNTY TO DISCONTINUE SALE OF DECALS:  A request had been received from Smyth County to consider discontinuing the sale of auto decals.  Fees for the decals would appear on the personal property tax ticket.  The request stated that Marion, Chilhowie, Saltville and Smyth County must all agree to the change or there would be no change.  Upon motion of Mr. Leaman, seconded by Mrs. Jennings, and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was referred to the Ordinance Committee.

 

CLOSING OF REST AREAS ALONG I-81:  Dr. Gates asked if there is concern that the Governor has proposed to close many of the rest areas along I-81, including our surrounding area, proposal to close the VDOT residency in Abingdon, and possible the Marion VDOT Shop.   Mrs. Jennings moved that Mr. Clark contact the County and the Town will follow suit if they have sent or plan to send a letter of support to keep the VDOT residency and Marion VDOT Shop opened and to reconsider the closure of I-81 rest areas.   If Smyth County agrees, Mr. Heath and Mr. Clark will draft a letter to express the Town’s views on these matters.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Leaman and carried by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES.   Mr. Weaver noted that a meeting to discuss the proposal will be conducted in Cedar Bluff, VA on March 25.

 

EDWARD BYRNE ASSISTANCE GRANT:  Chief Roberts informed Town Council that he has been notified that the Town is eligible for a grant in the amount of $29,680. 

 

ROUND HILL CEMETERY DAMAGE:  Chief Roberts reported that his Department anticipates charges against three (3) juveniles with regard to the vandalism in Round Hill Cemetery.

 

FARMERS MARKET:  Mr. Heath advised that the Farmer’s Market will open on May 9.

 

FIREWORKS:  Letters have been mailed requesting sponsors for the July 4th event.

 

HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK KIOSK:  Mr. Heath stated that he will be working with Hungry Mother State Park to provide information on the Town that would appear on the kiosk located at the Discovery Center.  The information on the kiosk can be viewed statewide at any state park.

 

EASTER EGG HUNT:   Mr. Heath advised that there will be two (2) Easter Egg Hunts this year.  One will be held at Hungry Mother State Park and the other at the MSHS Track field. 

 

TRANQUILILTY LANE EASEMENT:  Mr. Hicks stated that the easement for Tranquility Lane Water Line has been secured and filed at the Courthouse.  Mr. Fenyk suggested that any easement obtained be reviewed as to form and content.

 

CLOSED SESSION- Pursuant to Code of Virginia, 1950, As Amended,  Section 2.2-3711 (A)(7) and upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, Council entered into Closed Session to discuss probable litigation.  Mrs. Jennings moved that Council return to Open Session and that it is known that only those matters identified in the motion were discussed during the Closed Session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and carried by a vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES.  Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Warren, Weaver and Leaman voted affirmatively.

 

Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 5 AYES and 0 NOES, the meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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Vice-Mayor                                                                 Clerk