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 April 20, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.


PRESENT:  Mayor David Helms; Dr. James L. Gates, Jane Hale, Mel Leaman, Mark Warren, Bill Weaver, and Eugene Hendrick, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Engineer/Assistant Town Manager Cecil Hicks; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk; Community & Economic Development Manager Ken Heath; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Lt. Andrew Moss, Purchasing Agent B. J. Hamm and Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets.


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


VISITORS:  Andrea Dennison, Joe Rogers, Debbie Rogers, Tanya Billings, James R. Billings, Tim Oakes, Emily Raber, B. J. Oakes, Tracy Lewis, Adam Lewis, Shelia Glenn, Tanner Glenn, Katie Dishner, Nick Groseclose, Kim Langston, Ella Kegley, Willie McFarlane, Doug McFarlane, Alan Morgan, Corey Morgan, April Morgan, William E. Thompson, Olivia Sawyers, David Sawyers, Demetry Sawyers, Henry Evans, and Andy Blevins.


MINUTES:   Mr. Weaver corrected the minutes to read that Arbor Day will be observed on April 24, 2009.  Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mrs. Hale and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes for the meeting conducted on April 6, 2009  were approved as corrected.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, Weaver, and Warren voted affirmatively.


MINUTES-SPECIAL CALLED MEETING:  Mr. Warren moved that the minutes of a Special Called Meeting, conducted April 13, 2009 at 5:30 p.m., to discuss matters of redistributing funds allocated for the South Main Street Widening and Drainage Project be approved.   Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, Weaver and Warren voted affirmatively.


REQUEST FOR A SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR HOME OPCCUPATION BY JAMES BILLINGS-917 HENRY STREET:   Mayor Helms opened the public hearing by asking Mr. Hicks to summarize the request.   James and Tanya Billings are requesting a Special Use Permit for Home Occupation to operate a day care business.  The Billings’ have applied for certification from the Commonwealth to care for more than five (5) children at a time.  If approved, the Billings’ must adhere to all state regulations.  Also, the Billings’ proffered to fence in the child care area for the safety and protection of the children and adjacent properties.    The staff made no recommendation for the approval or disapproval of the request.  Traffic is a consideration in this request.   Mr. Hicks referred to letters from citizens who were against the Special Use Permit to operate a Day Care Center.  They were from Bonnie Barker, Christy Bise, Pat Racine, Harley and Cornelia Hall.  They cited Fowler Street has a lot of traffic. Henry Street is narrow to handle the flow of traffic, posing a hazard to motorists and pedestrians.  There are no protective barriers on the property.  The letters stated that the children play in the street and neighbor’s property.   It is their wish to keep the area residential. 


Several citizens spoke for and against the request.  Mr. Billings responded to the matter of children playing in the street.   He stated “those are my children” not the ones that attend the daycare.  He and his wife have four (4) children.  He noted that there are several businesses within a block of his home.  The Billings’ have applied for a state license to host a daycare facility but were informed, on this date, that anyone who has a Special Use Permit could not hire additional help.  Any helper must be a resident of the home.  Therefore, based upon state regulations, only five (5) children may be kept.  Mrs. Billings stated that she is currently caring for 10 children with one hired assistant. 


Doug McFarlane, 507 Adams Street, was opposed to the request.  So were Willie McFarlane and Ella Kegley.  Mr. McFarlane stated that Gary Smith and Barry Ellis were opposed.  They met with Mr. Clark on the situation several months ago.   They were concerned with children on their property, including playing on decks and children’s safety of playing in the street.  Mrs. McFarlane stated that the children are unsupervised and that there are more than 4-5 children there.


Joe & Debbie Rogers, adjacent property owners, had not had the unfortunate situations of the other neighbors.  He added that they are in support of a neighbor who wishes to operate a business as long as it is legally permitted.  He stated that he had no problem with children in his yard; however, according to the Billings’ they plan to fence in the playground.  Kim Langston and Andy Blevins spoke in favor of the day care facility.  Their children attend the day care and they are very satisfied with the care given to them.  Mr. Blevins added that the four (4) children of the Billings’ are polite, helpful and well behaved.  Mayor Helms closed the Public Hearing.


RESOLUTION OF RECOGNITION-MSHS STUDENTS:  Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Dr. Gates and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the following resolution was presented to each of the MSHS students who responded to the bus incident.  Mayor Helms read each resolution and presented them to Andrea Dennison, B. J. Oakes, Corey Morgan and Demetry Sawyers.







WHEREAS, on the morning of Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Eddie Foster was driving his regular route between Marion Senior High School and the Smyth Career and Technology Center; and


WHEREAS, enroute, Mr. Foster suffered a medical emergency; and


WHEREAS, four students – B.J. Oakes, Andrea Dennison, Corey Morgan, and Demetry Sawyers, utilized skills, training, and education to safely steer the bus to the shoulder, stop the bus, evacuate the students, summons emergency assistance, and provide first aid to Foster; and


WHEREAS, the students took command of the emergency and brought the situation to safe a resolution for all involved.


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Town of Marion in Regular Session assembled 20 April 2009, that the Town hereby officially commends Demetry Sawyers, B.J. Oakes, Andrea Dennison, and Corey Morgan for exemplary courage and leadership.


RESOLVED, this 20th  day of April, 2009.



SIGNED:                                                                    ATTEST:




___________________________                              ______________________________

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



Following the presentation, B. J. Oakes stated that Mr. Eddie Foster, the bus driver, was responsible for getting the bus off the road and responsible for the safety of all on board the bus.  He said “Thank you” to Mr. Foster. 


SPECIAL PRESENTATION-TRANSDOMINION EXPRESS:   The Town’s representative on the TransDominion Express Committee, Mr. W. E. Thompson, reported to the Town that Segment 1 of the plan has been implemented to study the Amtrak to Washington, DC passenger rail line.  Norfolk Southern has endorsed the plan.  Mr. Thompson stated that the announcement was made on April 2 with Governor Kaine and other state representatives in attendance.  The second phase involves the Roanoke to Lynchburg line. The third phase is a line from Bristol to Roanoke and the final phase is the Lynchburg to Richmond line.   Mr. Thompson added that he has served as the Town’s representative for 11 years and is delighted to finally bring some news of progress to the Town Council.  Mayor Helms thanked Mr. Thompson for his service on behalf of the Town.


COUNCIL ACTION ON SPECIAL USE PERMIT REQUEST:  Dr. Gates stated that it has generally been the practice to deny requests for Special Use Permit when there is opposition from the neighborhood.  Mr. Hendrick noted that the business has operated for a year and a half with no complaints.  Mr. Clark advised that this meeting is a result of the actions of the Billings’ older children.  Several of those opposed met with Mr. Clark on this matter.  It was noted that the parents of the children in daycare are satisfied with the care their children are receiving.  Upon motion of Mr. Hendrick, seconded by Mrs. Hale, and vote of 3 AYES, 2 NOES, and 1 ABSTENTION (Leaman), the request was granted with the following conditions and contingent upon state certification. 

1)      That all Town ordinances, State and Federal laws be observed in general, and that the Town regulations concerning land use, signs, storm water management and on-site parking be observed in particular.

2)      That any changes in ownership of the property, residency of the applicant, change in apartment or material change in the nature of the business would invalidate the special use permit.

3)      That all childcare performed at the home be confined to the interior of the residential structure except when children are to play outside which the play area will be determined by a fenced in area for protection and safety of the children.

4)      That no on-site advertising be visible from adjoining property or street or located anywhere on site of the residents.

5)      That the business continues to meet the definition of Home Occupation (Section 210.51 An occupation carried on by the occupant of a dwelling as a secondary use in connection with which there is no display and not more than one person is employed, other than members of the family residing on the premises; professional offices such as medical, dental, legal, engineering and architectural offices conducted within a dwelling by the occupant.)  in the Town’s Zoning Ordinance.

6)      That Mr. & Mrs. Billings are required to obtain a Town of Marion Business License.


UPDATE ON AGREEMENT AT MARION CORRECTIONAL TREATMENT CENTER AND WELLBORNE-ENGINEER/TOWN MANAGER:   Mr. Clark reported that an agreement has been reached for the installation of a new 8” Fire Flow Meter and Vault to be installed at Marion Correctional Treatment Facility.  The cost is not to exceed $29,674.  The Town and MCTC have agreed to share the cost evenly.  The Town’s share will be $14,837. 


UPDATE ON FEDERAL STIMULUS PACKAGE FOR WATER & SEWER PROJECTS:   Mr. Clark reported that the Town has applied for $423,000 for a full replacement of the ultra violet disinfection system at the sewer treatment plant and for $66,180 for the replacement of a section of sewer line on East Chilhowie Street and Elkton Street from the Department of Environmental Quality.  Apparently, the Town’s projects were not selected for funding from the stimulus package. 


For the water projects, the Town has applied for approximately $60,000 for tank repainting and $163,500 for a water line replacement project along South Main Street from Jones Street to Hulldale.  Funding has not been announced for these stimulus packages.   Information has been received that one or both of these projects may be considered for funding under the “Green Project Reserve”.


REPORT ON BIDS FOR TEMPORARY, SEASONAL AND COMMERCIAL LEASE OF THE TOWN’S PROPERTY LOCATED BETWEEN NORTH MAIN STREET AND MIDDLE FORK OF THE HOLSTON RIVER:    One bid was received to lease the property located between North Main Street and the Middle Fork of the Holston River from Ms. Shelly Slemp. Ms. Slemp intends to operate a Snow Shack business on the site. 

Her bid for the lease from April 27, 2009 to September 12, 2009 was $160.   Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mr. Weaver, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Council accepted the bid.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, Weaver and Warren voted affirmatively.


ACCOUNTS:  Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mrs. Hale, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the accounts in the amount of $746,808.14 were approved.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Warren and Hendrick voted affirmatively.


INVESTMENTS:    Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the Investment Report was approved as presented.


NEW IRS MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT:   According to the Internal Revenue Service, a standard mileage rate for the cost of operating a personal car for business use is 55 cents per mile.   Council had previously decided that the Town would adhere to the rate as set by the IRS.   Further, when attending a function on behalf of the Town, prior permission must be attained before using a private vehicle and only if no Town owned or rental vehicle is available for use.


REQUEST FROM FIRST FRUITS-TOWN MANAGER:   Mr. Clark reported that he has been advised that First Fruits Beverage Company, LLC will be creating up to 75 new jobs over the next three year period.  They have requested assistance in upgrading the water line from a 4 inch to a 6 inch line to insure property sprinkler flow in case of a fire.  The change would also allow a more rapid flow to the facility.  The facility will be located in the former Pepsi Building located on Washington Avenue.  Mayor Helms referred this matter to the Water Committee.  Dr. Gates so moved.  Mrs. Hale seconded the motion.  Council approved the motion by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.


APPLICATION OF ATMOS ENERGY-ATTORNEY:  Council was advised that Atmos Energy Corporation has filed for an increase in its annual revenues of approximately 3% for gas service effective May 1, 2009. 


AWARD FROM HEALTH DEPARTMENT FOR WATER TREATMENT PLANT-TOWN MANAGER:   The Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water has awarded the Town of Marion waterworks with the 2008 Excellence in Waterworks Operation/Performance Award.   The award will be presented at the Holiday Inn Roanoke Valley View Hotel on May 7, 2009.   The Town intends to send representatives from the Water Treatment Plant to receive this award. 


STIMULUS MEETING ON EMERGENCY SERVICES-COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR:   Mr. Ken Heath, Mr. John Clark, Police Chief Roberts and Mr. B. J. Hamm attended the Stimulus Meeting on April 20, 2009.   Mr. Heath reported that there may be some Homeland Security Grants to assist in purchase of air packs for the Fire Department.  He noted that 45 Virginia departments have these air packs and must replace them as they will not be certified after December 31, 2009. 


EARLY DELIVERY OF STREET SWEEPER:  Mr. Hamm reported that notice has been received that the sweeper could be delivered to the Town sometime in the week of April 27, 2009.  If the Town accepts early delivery of the sweeper, Carolina Industrial Equipment would honor the payment agreement of July 2009.  Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mr. Leaman, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Council agreed to accept delivery of the street sweeper with the stipulation that payment be made the first week of July 2009 and training commence upon arrival of the sweeper.

Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Weaver, Hendrick and Warren voted affirmatively.


REQUEST FROM DESTINATION IMAGINATION:  MSHS Destination Imagination members, Nick Groseclose, Henry Evans, Katie Dishner, Tanner Glenn and (not present) Mary Briggs Graham, have again qualified, for the 7th time, to compete in globals  for Destination Imagination.  The cost to attend is $5,000.  Dr. Gates moved that the request be referred to the Finance Committee.  Mr. Warren seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES. 


PERSONNEL COMMITTEE ON REVISIONS TO PERSONNEL POLICY:   Mr. Clark stated that the following revisions have been recommended to the Personnel Policy:


Section 3.09.  Salary of Transferred Employee.  Transfer is defined as the assignment of an employee from a position in one class to another position in the same class or to a position in another class with the same salary range.  The salary of an employee shall be changed because of the transfer.


The salary of an employee, who is moved to a lower classification because of reorganization or because of a lack of work or funds, shall be adjusted according to the procedure as described in Section 3.08.


Section 3.12 (E) Reduction in Pay.   Second paragraph.  The salary of an employee, who is moved to a lower classification because of reorganization or because of a lack of work or funds, shall be adjusted according to the procedure in Section 3.08.


Section 5.04 (B) Payments for Overtime Work.  Under the FLSA regulations, overtime will be paid to eligible employees for all hours over 40 worked during any given workweek.  Holidays, vacation and sick leave shall not be counted as time worked for the purposes of computing overtime.


Mr. Weaver moved that the changes in wording within the Personnel Policy be approved as presented.  Mrs. Hale seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.




BUILDING & GROUNDS – COMMUNITY GARDEN REQUEST BY PROJECT CROSSROADS:  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mrs. Hale and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was continued.


FIRE COMMITTEE REPORT:   Dr. Gates reported that he met with a member of the Chilhowie Fire Department to discuss their system of billing insurance companies for fire calls to structures, lots, or accidents.  This matter will require further discussion.   Dr. Gates moved that the Town send a letter to Smyth County to advise them of the Town’s intention to investigate billing insurance companies to compensate for fire calls in the Town and in the Town’s coverage area in Smyth County, as allowed by their insurance policies.   Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.


BUDGET PREPARATION  FY 2009-2010:  Mr. Clark reported that there is a net loss of $70,000 for the Comcast Business License.   The Town’s franchise attorney, Brian Grogan has advised that Comcast owes the tax, while Comcast contends that they do not.  This has not been paid for two (2) fiscal years.   Mr. Fenyk was asked to contact Mr. Grogan concerning this matter. 


DEER PROBLEM:  Mr. Weaver stated that complaints are being received concerning the increased deer population in town and the problem with them eating shrubs, flowers and gardens.  Dr. Gates stated that one option is a controlled hunt.  Mr. Fenyk advised that the Town Police may obtain a permit from the State.  Mr. Leaman asked that the Town work with game officials on this matter.   Mr. Hendrick stated that the Game Commission will not trap and relocate deer but will grant controlled hunt permits.


RECREATION COMMITTEE-  Dr. Gates reported that the Recreation Committee met and discussed the increased costs of pool supplies and chemicals.  The Committee proposed the following rate changes:  1) Admissions - $4 per person; 2) Single Pool Pass - $100.00; Family Pool Pass - $200.00; and Pool Party - $150.00.    Also, the Committee recommends that the Town change to vending machines rather than open the Snack Bar. 


Dr. Gates stated that the ratio of participation in the recreation program is 65% County and 35% Town.  The County contributes $15,000 to the Recreation Department.  Dr. Gates advised that he will again go to the County to request an increase in their allocation to the Recreation Department based upon the ratio of county participants.


STUDENT GOVERNMENT DAY:  Student Government Day will be conducted on April 23.


ARBOR DAY:  Arbor Day will be celebrated in Marion on April 24 with a ceremony at Wassona Circle.


TOWN SECTION MEETING IN VINTON:  Mayor Helms advised that the Town Section Meeting will be conducted in Vinton, Virginia on May 22.  He urged those who plan to attend to contact the Town Clerk so that arrangements can be made.


TOURISM VOLUNTEER TRAINING:  Mayor Helms reported that the Tourism Volunteer Training appears to be going well. 


HAZARDOUS MATERIALS:  Mayor Helms stated that he had been approached about the Town hosting an event for citizens to dispose of hazardous materials, such as, oil, paint cans, etc.  Mr. Clark was asked to have staff investigate what would be required to conduct such an event.


FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT:  Mr. Fenyk stated that, as required by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Council must have a meeting for an overview of the FOIA regulations.   Mr. Fenyk will inform the Town of a time when he will be available to conduct the program.


RECYCLING AT THE FARMER’S MARKET:  Mr. Heath reported that the Farmer’s Market will have someone there to accept farm plastics for recycling one Saturday and another Saturday they will accept “E-waste”  to recycle cell phones, VCRs, etc. 


NEW BUSINESSES:   Mr. Heath advised that Pizza Plus will be relocating to the former Burger King Building on North Main Street.   There is also the possibility that a new business will be locating in the former Seaver Opera House at the lower end of Main Street. 


DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  Lt. Andrew Moss stated that the Police Department is on-track to receive the Byrne Justice Grant.   He requested that the Town advertise for Public Comments on May 4th at 7:00 p.m.   Lt. Moss gave an overview of where the funds will be spent and this list must be submitted for approval to the granting authority. 


Lt. Moss also applied for a CDBG grant to purchase equipment.  The grant is in the amount of $4,820 with a $536 Town match.   Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Council approved the Town’s $536 match for this grant.


Lt. Moss thanked Ken Heath for his assistance in the Chief’s Law Enforcement Challenge Grant and on other grant preparation.


MARION PLANNING COMMISSION:  Mr. Hicks informed Town Council that the Planning Commission will meet on May 11, 2009 for the purpose of election of officers.


BUDGET MEETING:  A budget meeting will be conducted at 9:00 a.m.,

April 29, 2009.   The Recreation Department, Police Department and MLSC will be present to discuss their respective budgets.


RECREATION COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS:   Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mrs. Hale and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Ms. Jill Robinson and Mr. Bobby Gilbert were reappointed to the Recreation Advisory Committee.


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



__________________________________     ______________________________

Mayor                                                              Clerk