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


PRESENT:  Mayor David P. Helms; Dr. James Gates, Jane Hale, Eugene Hendrick, Suzanne Jennings, Bill Weaver and Mark Warren, Council Members; Town Manager John E. B. Clark, Jr.; Police Chief Michael Roberts; Town Attorney Mark Fenyk;  Community & Economic Development Director Ken Heath; Engineer’s Assistant Todd Long; 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: Members of the Marion Little League All-Stars – Hunter Lefler, Riley Blevins, Nicholas Stiefel, Michael Ellis, W. K. Dalton, Jacob Spencer and Coaches Junior Wolfe, Joe Ellis and Brian Leaman.


MINUTES:   Upon motion of Mr. Weaver, seconded by Mrs. Hale and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the minutes of the meeting, conducted on July 6, 2009, were approved as written and distributed.  Dr. Gates, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Jennings, Mr. Warren, Mr. Weaver, and Mr. Hendrick voted affirmatively.


 UPDATE ON OLD SCHOOL PROJECT AND APPROVAL OF AGREEMENT FOR BEGINNING PARKING LOT WITHIN TWO YEARS OF CONTRACT SIGNING: Mr. Clark reported that the Town has been informed by DHCD representative, Todd Christensen, that a grant in the amount of $1,000,000 will be awarded to the Town based upon HUD’s national objectives, the elimination of slum and blight.  Also, consideration has been given to job creation for low and moderate income individuals both during the construction and sustaining jobs from the Appalachian School of Music and for other businesses that will be rehabilitated. The project must be under construction by December 2009.  Although the parking garage is not a direct part of the slum and blight project, Mr. Christensen requested a timetable on the construction of the parking garage.  Mr. Christensen stated that the project must begin within two years of the Town signing a contract with DHCD.  Town Attorney Mark Fenyk and County Attorney John Tate added a section in the contract with regard to the two year proviso.  Mr. Hendrick expressed some concerns but was satisfied that Mr. Fenyk had covered all the bases.  It was noted that $250,000 of the grant would be paid to Smyth County to purchase the 1908 schoolhouse.   Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the agreement was approved.


Mr. Clark commended Mr. Michael Armbrister from the MRPDC and Ken Heath on the preparation of the grant application.    Mayor Helms asked Mr. Clark to contact Charlie Clark to come by the office and sign the agreement.


MARION LITTLE LEAGUE-REQUEST FOR FUNDS:   Marion Little League Coach Junior Wolfe informed Town Council that the Marion Little League Baseball Team 11-12 year old All-Stars have won the Area 1 Tournament and are the first Area 1 team to win the District in Bristol.   The team has qualified for the State Tournament and will play in Centerville, VA this week.   Cost of the hotel rooms alone will be $7,000.  They requested any financial assistance the Town could provide for this trip.  Upon motion of Mrs. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Weaver and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the request was referred to the Finance Committee, with power to act, not to exceed $1,000.    A donation of $500 was donated to the Marion Little League.   Members of the team in attendance were:  Hunter Lefler, Riley Blevins, Nicholas Stifel, W. K. Dalton, and Jacob Spencer.   The Team presented Mayor Helms a signed photo of the team and an autographed baseball.   Mayor Helms extended the Town’s best wishes to the Team and noted that a send-off for the District Champion Marion Little League Team Age 11-12 will be held at the Municipal Building on Thursday, July 23 @ 8:30 a.m.    Mr. Ellis stated that any personal donations will be accepted and may be left at the General Francis Marion Hotel. 


NOTICE OF AWARD ON PEARL AVENUE/BUCHANAN STREET CDBG PROJECT:   Governor Kaine’s office has announced that the Town of Marion will receive $715,190 in CDBG funds for the Pearl Avenue/Buchanan Street Housing Rehabilitation Project.  The Town’s local share will be $36,000, over a three (3) year period. “Project Description:  The Town will address substandard housing conditions in the Pearl Avenue and Buchanan Street community.  The project includes the rehabilitation of 15 owner-occupied houses, the rehabilitation of 6 renter-occupied properties, the substantially reconstruction of one owner-occupied home, and demolition and removal of two vacant blighted structures in addition to general debris and trash removal.  The project is expected to benefit 46 persons, all of whom are low-to-moderate income. 


Scott Booth, of MRPDC, has advised that the Town may receive additional funding for this project from Rural Development.  Mr. Booth applied for $113,305, which may be used to further expand housing rehabilitation. 


APPROVAL OF ENGINEERING CONTRACT ON SOUTH MAIN STREET WATER LINE PROJECT:  The Engineering Services contract for the South Main Street Waterline Replacement by The Lane Group was presented for discussion.  The Project will be paid for by 100% stimulus funds.  Mr. Clark noted that $5,500 has been allocated in the budget for administration.  This had already been paid by the Town, however, those funds may be used for required monitoring of the workers with regard to the Davis-Bacon Act, environmental reviews, and certification of “buy American” (use of American made iron).   Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mr. Jennings and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, Council approved the contract based upon Health Department Approval. 


UPDATE ON TOWN WEBSITE:   Todd Long reported that the current minutes and current agendas are now on the website.   He and Chris King are working to get the search engine back on line for the minutes.   Mr. Long also intends to send out requests to departments for updates and news to post on the website.   Mr. Hendrick stated that the heading on the first page is difficult to see and should be clarified.   Mr. Long agreed and stated that they may be able to change this banner.  He stated that he may contact Steven Taylor to determine if the Town staff can change or clarify this image.


UPDATE ON DEER POPULATION CONTROL:   Mr. Clark reported that the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries is aware of the problem with deer population.   This has become a problem all over the State.  Mr. Clark added that a date is being determined to schedule a meeting between VDGIF, Town representatives and the Ordinance Committee.  Mr. Weaver stated that several individuals have spoken to him with regard to the Urban Archery Program.  This will be discussed with the VDGIF representatives.


REPORT ON CHILI COOK-OFF AND RELATED EVENTS:  Mr. Heath reported that a crowd of approximately 8,000 attended the Chili Cook-off on Friday night and several hundred attended the Broad Street Celebration on Saturday night.  The Town’s first Corn Hole Tournament hosted 10 teams.  The winning team plans to attend the Work Championship in Indiana.    The Car Show on Friday night was also very successful.   The Town Chili Team, “Mel’s Diner” won the Showmanship award.    Mr. Heath stated that more volunteers are needed for these types of events.  He encouraged people to volunteer.


Discussion is underway for a fall celebration.   Mr. Heath will provide more details as they become available.


APPOINTMENTS TO LINCOLN THEATRE BOARD, MT. ROGERS PDC BOARD AND MARION PLANNING COMMISSION:  Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 5 AYES and 1 ABSTENTION (Dr. Gates), Dr. Gates was reappointed to the Lincoln Theatre Board.   


Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 6 AYES and 0 N0ES, Mayor Helms was appointed to the MRPDC Board.   Mayor Helms served on the initial Board for MRPDC which will celebrate the 40th Anniversary this year.


Upon motion of Mr. Warren, seconded by Mrs. Jennings and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, James Barker was reappointed to the Marion Planning Commission.  


ACCOUNTS:  Mr. Warren moved that the accounts be approved for payment in the amount of $551,884.34.  Mr. Weaver seconded the motion.  Council approved the same by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES.


INVESTMENTS:  There were no investments for this period.  Upon motion, duly seconded and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, the report was accepted.


NEW COMMUNICATIONS METHODS FOR TOWN EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS:  Mr. Heath advised that the Town now offers Twitter or Nixel as a means of providing an emergency alert and/or community information to those who sign up on their cell phones.  


BUILDING AND REAL ESTATE COMMITTEE ON OLD POLICE DEPARTMENT USES:   Mr. Warren reported that Appalachian Spirit Gallery advised that the Museum has approached them concerning the use of the upstairs of the facility.   Mr. Warren informed them that they, as lessees, have control of the upstairs space.   The ASG plans to deny the use, at this time, as the schedules would not always allow someone to be in the Art Gallery when the upstairs was in use.     On the other hand, the Town has control of the basement of the property.   A private benefactor has offered to create a railroad museum in the basement.   Items from the basement would have to be moved before this area may be discussed.


COUNCILMAN LEAMAN:  Mrs. Jennings reported that she had spoken with Councilman Leaman and he has returned to Duke for additional treatment and doing well.   He sends his best wishes to Council.  Mr. Leaman asked her to thank everyone for their participation in the Chili Cook-off.  He stated that he had a great time.


ARTWALK:  The Art Walk reported that approximately 200 people attended the monthly Art Walk.


DECALS:  Mr. Weaver stated that he was unaware that the Town’s elimination of the decals was contingent upon the County eliminating theirs.  Mr. Weaver moved that the Town revisit the decal situation and refer the matter to the Ordinance Committee.   Dr. Gates seconded the motion.  Council approved the motion by a vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES. 


SMYTH COUNTY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL PUBLIC HEARING:   A public hearing was conducted at the Municipal Building to receive input on the plans to establish an 18 bed rehabilitation facility in the current hospital facility on July 16, 2009.  Several individuals and companies spoke in favor of the facility.  Only one, Health South, spoke in opposition.


VML EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING:   Mayor Helms attended the VML Executive Council Meeting in Vienna on July 11th.   He advised that the deer population is causing problems all over the Commonwealth.   Budget problems are also plaguing most other localities. 


TOURISM BY-LAWS:  Mr. Fenyk reported that County Attorney John Tate has requested a meeting to discuss an amendment to the Tourism By-Laws.


TV CABLE FRANCHISE:   Dr. Gates asked if Mr. Fenyk had further information on the TV Cable Franchise Agreement.  He stated that he does not have information of the Franchise Agreement.   The Franchise Fee has been eliminated; however, Comcast must pay a business license.


The Communication Tax, $0.35, is coming in at an average of $10,000 per month.  Mr. Fenyk noted that he has requested a break-down from where the funds are coming.  


NEW BUSINESS:  Mr. Heath was pleased to announce that a new business has opened in Downtown.  The Cottage Boutique II is located at 215 East Main Street. 


BROCHURES:  Mr. Heath advised that the Town has exhausted the supply of brochures.  These were printed several years ago.   A number of volunteers have come forward and offered to redesign the brochure, free of charge.   The estimated cost to print 10,000 brochures is $2,500.  Upon motion of Dr. Gates, seconded by Mrs. Jennings, and vote of 6 AYES and 0 NOES, approval was given to design new brochures.     Dr. Gates, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Hale, Messrs Hendrick, Weaver, and Warren voted affirmatively.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY:  Mayor Helms asked Mr. Fenyk to review the recently passed revised regulations with regard to care of premises.


LEAK DETECTION STUDY:  Mr. Clark informed Council that the Leak Detection Study is going well.   Several million gallons of water loss have been identified. 


UV SYSTEM:   Mr. Clark advised that grant funding for the UV System at the Sewer Plant was unsuccessful.  The Town staff is considering hiring an engineer to review the system and make recommendations.   This item is budgeted for capital improvement at $45,000 per year for 10 years.   Dr. Gates asked if money from the Tobacco Fund is available for this project.  Mr. Clark advised that Tobacco money has been allocated for this year.  The Town and County are preparing to request funds for the parking deck.


BUDGET BOOKLET FOR 2009-2010:   Mr. Weaver stated that the Budget Booklets are well put together and will be a helpful tool in the year to come.  


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



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Mayor                                                              Clerk