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 May 4, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

 

PRESENT:  Mayor David Helms; Dr. James Gates (arriving late), Jane Hale, Suzanne Jennings, Mel Leaman, Eugene Hendrick, Bill Weaver and Mark Warren, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Town Engineer/Assistant Town Manger Cecil Hicks; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk; Community & Economic Development Manager Ken Heath; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Police Lt. Andrew Moss, Sgt. Rick McNew; Town Clerk/Director of Finance Dixie Sheets.

 

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

 

VISITORS:  Robert Lincoln, Joe Ellis, Susie Ellis, Glenda Armbrister, E. Lynn Sayers, Betsy Sayers, Linda Lindsey, Moe Weaver, Jane H. Weaver, Alvin E. Crowder, William E. Thompson, Fairfax Patterson, John Glenn, Lydia Glenn, Marshall Collins, Martha Copenhaver, Cici Vesce, Suzy Sukle, Bill Huber, Tom Hower.

 

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES:  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mrs. Hale and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes were approved as written and distributed.  Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, Weaver and Warren voted affirmatively.

 

WILLIAM CAMPBELL CHAPTER-SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION:  This item was continued to the meeting of May 18, 2009.

 

PUBLIC NOTICE-BYRNE JUSTICE ASSISTANCE GRANT:  Mayor Helms explained that these funds have been awarded to the Police Department to purchase needed equipment.  It is part of the Recovery Act recently passed.   A requirement of obtaining the funds is to conduct a public notice meeting where the public may comment or ask questions.  No one was present to ask questions.  Chief Roberts added that this is a grant and requires no match from the Town of Marion.

 

BIDDING OF SPRING PAVING:  Mr. Hicks stated that $150,000 has been budgeted for paving this fiscal year.  The Street Committee met, with authority to bid, and selected the Priority List of Streets for Spring Paving.  Bids have been let and are to be opened on May 15, 2009.  The bids shall include milling and paving.   Milling material will be used on Town Streets according to needs.  Mr. Warren asked why Panorama Drive, especially in the curve, was not included.  Mr. Hicks explained that the problem in the curve on Panorama Drive will be repaired by the Town crew.  Upon motion of Mr. Leaman, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the paving list was approved. 

 

PRESENTATION ON FUTURE OF OLD SCHOOL HOUSE:  Suzie Sukle had prepared a video that was played for the Council Members.  The video noted historic homes that have been torn down or moved and others that have been restored and serve the citizens of Marion and Smyth County.  A host of citizens attended the meeting in opposition to removal of the school.  Several spoke to Council on the subject.

 

Mr. Joe Ellis stated that the School is an asset to the Town and has been deemed sound and suitable for renovation.   CDBG Grant funds of up to $250,000 are available for derelict property renovation.  Potential uses for the building have been identified.  As for the parking garage, the Town had previously committed $500,000 to help construct a 3 deck parking structure.  This construction would help to keep jobs in the Downtown area; Smyth County plans to move the dispatchers, Commonwealth Attorney, and all Constitutional Offices to a new building to be constructed outside the Town limits.  Mr. Ellis stated that there are two (2) issues.  One is saving the schoolhouse.  The other is the courthouse renovation.   He encouraged Council to consider these matters separately. 

 

The immediate concern, according to Mr. Ellis, is the school.   If the County proceeds with their current plan, the schoolhouse could be demolished at any time.     A plan to establish the Appalachian School of Arts and Music there is in place.  He encouraged the Town to approach the County once more with the proposal to purchase the school from Smyth County for the assessed value (paid for by CDBG Grant funds, not to exceed $250,000) and recommit the Town to up to $500,000 to assist with costs to construct a parking structure.

 

Glenda Armbrister spoke as a business owner and Town and County taxpayer.  She was in favor keeping the Constitutional offices downtown.  It was suggested that the Town adopt A Resolution of Opposition to expansion of the Courthouse.  The resolution shall also state that all constitutional offices be kept in town.   She further stated that the School is a landmark and should be saved.  Mrs. Armbrister was the spokesperson for the group assembled.  Also, speaking in opposition to removal of the school were Cici Brown Vesci, Fairfax Patterson, and Tom Hower.

 

Ken Heath, Community and Economic Development Director, stated that to save the 1908 schoolhouse three (3) things must happen.  (1) Secure a Commercial appraisal and submit it to DHCD for approval.   The appraisal will be paid for by citizens who wish to save the school.  There will be no cost to the Town or County.  (2)  Secure Town commitment to provide funding to assist with construction of a downtown parking deck.  (3)  Secure County commitment to accept the Town’s offer. 

 

Mrs. Jennings stated that the community is coming together on this issue.  She added that the Town has tried to work with Smyth County on these issues.    She reminded the group that the Town does not own the school.  Smyth County owns the schoolhouse property. 

 

Mr. Leaman stated that the Town’s proposal has been on the table and the Town has been on board to do its part for a long time.   He added that no one knows the County’s commitment to the parking garage.  He asked, “What indication does the Town have that the County would change their minds?”   Mr. Leaman stated that the Town was never privy to the plans for the courthouse.  

 

 Dr. Gates arrived.  Discussion ensued.

 

Dr. Gates moved that the Town work with Smyth County on resolution of the parking situation with a proposal up to $500,000 without the stipulation of keeping the Constitutional offices downtown.  That an appraisal of the 1908 Schoolhouse will be performed and paid for by local citizens and submitted to the funding agency for their approval to purchase the school from Smyth County with a pass-thru of up to $250,000.    Mrs. Jennings seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES.    Dr. Gates, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Leaman, Hendrick, Warren and Weaver voted affirmatively.

 

Mayor Helms thanked the Council and Town staff for the work put into these projects. 

 

LINCOLN THEATRE:  Mr. Huber reminded those present that this is the 5th Anniversary of the Lincoln Theatre and a performance of “Riders in the Sky” may be seen at the Lincoln Theatre at 8:00 p.m. on May 9th.

 

REQUEST FROM EBENEZER LUTHERAN CHURCH:   A letter of request was received from Ebenezer Lutheran Church located on West Main Street for two (2) additional handicapped parking designations at their church.  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was referred to the Street Committee for study and recommendation.

 

WATER COMMITTEE ON FIRST FRUITS REQUEST:  First Fruits Beverage Company, LLC. has requested an upgrade of the water line from a 4 inch to a 6 inch line to insure proper sprinkler flow to their facility.  First Fruits Beverage Company will be occupying the former Pepsi Plant on Washington Avenue.  They anticipate creating up to 75 new jobs over the next three year period.    Mr. Heath noted that this is not an Enterprise Zone incentive.  Mr. Hendrick felt that since the Town has the money in the budget, the Town should install the line.   Mrs. Hale stated that she thought the Town should participate in 50% of the cost as considered in the Committee meeting.  Dr. Gates moved that First Fruits Beverage Company pay for the installation and after one (1) year, if 12,000.000 gallons of water has been used the Town would reimburse 50% of the installation of the line.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Warren and carried by a vote of 5 AYES and 2 NOES (Hendrick, Hale). 

 

REAL ESTATE COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY GARDEN:  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mr. Leaman and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, this item was continued.

 

OBESITY EPIDEMIC IN SMYTH COUNTY:  Mrs. Jennings thanked the staff that attended the meeting with her on the obesity epidemic in Smyth in conjunction with Mt. States Health Alliance.

 

STREET SWEEPER:  Mr. Hendrick stated that the new street sweeper was operated in his neighborhood and he was not pleased with its performance.  Mr. Leaman advised that maybe the employees are still in training.    Mr. Clark stated that he would discuss the matter with Mr. Perry, the Public Works Director.

 

EXIT 47 DEVELOPMENT:  Mr. Warren requested a status report on development of Exit 47 and the Community Development Authority.  Mr. Clark stated that he has not heard anything on this matter. 

 

TOWN SECTION MEETING:  Mayor Helms reminded Council of the Town Section Meeting to be conducted on May 22 in Vinton, VA.

 

RECYCLING:  Mayor Helms stated that a letter of concern had been received from Rev. Jonathan Jonas that the Town is not doing more recycling.   Mayor Helms stated that the Town is recycling where it can and asked that staff investigate other ways to recycle.  He noted that recycling trucks will be available at the Farmer’s Market.   Mr. Heath stated that he is working on a day for hazardous collection, i.e. paint cans, tires, etc., at the Farmer’s Market. 

 

WALK AMERICAN:  Mayor Helms stated that approximately $20,000 was raised for the March of Dimes during a “Walk” held on Saturday, May 2nd.   He expressed his appreciation to those who helped with the event.

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOIA) REVIEW:   Mr. Fenyk stated that he will work with Mr. Clark to set a date for this review.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS:  Mr. Heath noted the following upcoming events:   Go Green Workshop on May 8, 2009 in Roanoke; The Farmer’s Market will open on May 9, 2009; Recycling with Johnson Control and Lunchtime on the Lawn begins on June 5. 

 

BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE:  Mr. Clark advised that the Finance Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 8, 2009 to continue budget preparation.  This week will focus on Public Works, IT, and Engineering.

 

Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 7 AYES and 0 NOES, the meeting was adjourned.

 

______________________________                           __________________________
Mayor                                                                             Clerk