By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Several people attended the most recent meeting of the Parsons City Council. All council members were present with the exception of Kenneth Morrison. Mayor Dorothy Judy opened with a prayer which followed The Pledge of Allegiance before addressing the public for comments.
Tammy Greenlief Michael, Activities Coordinator, was first on the list wishing to clarify the donations requests mentioned at the last meeting for the upcoming fall events. “Our donations, remember, when we do events, 99.9% of our events are free events. I asked council back when I first started doing the events if I could do sponsorships,” she explained. This sponsorship is to assist in putting on the events and those who sponsors are in support of what the city does. “I just want to let everyone know that’s what that sponsorship goes for,” meaning providing for the community
Michael also stated there is a desire to “reinvent” what was formerly known as Dark in the Park as Parsons Haunted Trails. Parks and Recreations have already approved the function that is proposed to run October 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 31, as well as November 1, and 2. Wendell and Greg Cantrell are assisting with the project in hopes to make it another successful event. There is a volunteer meeting being held on September 25 between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the City Building for anyone interested in assisting. Price for admission will be $10 for adults, kids 12 and under will be $5, and half of the proceeds will go to the parks.
She continued to announce that she and Judy had decided on the Grand Marshal’s for the 2019 Parsons Christmas Parade, which will be Ben Long and Ren Adkins along with their families. It was suggested to have a couple honorary Grand Marshal’s along with Long and Adkins, being Trevor Keiss, Jed Drenning, and Congressman David McKinley schedule permitting. Lineup will be at 5 p.m. and parade will begin at 6 p.m. December 7, the weekend prior to the parade, at 6 p.m. there will be a tree lighting by Mayor Dorothy Judy alongside the council members. A candlelight vigil and mini service will take place beforehand as well.
Chris Davis spoke next as a park board member and Elkins Physical Therapy employee. They are looking at branching out their business to provide their services to local citizens. They are requesting to rent a small amount of space in the Wellness 24 center a few days a week to set up. “We’re looking at January 2 to be ready to get started that week to where we can do a two day a week clinic at that point,” Davis informed. Councilman Tim Auvil made the motion to permit the usage of the facility for therapeutic services with Councilwoman Amy Wagner making the second. All were in unanimous agreement.
Sandy Hockman followed with questions regarding the proposed changes to the ATV Ordinance. “I don’t even know how that got on the agenda,” replied Judy. “The reasons it’s on the agenda is, recently there’s been an uptick, it was actually at the request of the Chief,” stated Jason Myers, County Administrator and Treasurer. Chief T.D. Roberts explained they have been receiving complaints regarding UTV’s, (Utility Task Vehicles or side by sides) and the ordinance only pertains to ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles or 4-wheelers). Councilman David Greenlief recommended omitting the local ordinance and following the state statute relating to usage of ATV’s and UTV’s in municipalities. Greenlief made the motion to eliminate the city ordinance with a second by Councilman Tim Auvil. Discussion followed with Hockman stating the concern of the safety of her grandchildren due to drivers not following traffic laws in vehicles or other forms of transportation. “I want these kids in my neighborhood to continue using their bicycles,” she said and shared a story of a relative who was hit and killed along with her unborn child due to negligence of an ATV driver. She then quoted statistics relating to ATV and UTV accidents and is asking for them to not be used inside city limits and in congested areas. Davis spoke again stating he read the state law differently than explained by Greenlief. To his understanding, you are only to use the streets to access between trail heads, not to use as a main form of transportation. Chief T.D. Roberts confirmed it is to be less than a 10 mile span and under 25 miles per hour.
Judy moved to the next speaker being Jim Summerfield. He recently purchased a UTV and asked if he could travel from his home to McDonalds to get his grandson an ice cream cone, if that would be acceptable. Unfortunately, it would not be according to the understanding of the state code. Ron White spoke next with a lot of the some viewpoints as Summerfield. David Guy and Greg Cantrell also spoke up regarding the usage of UTV and ATV’s and the benefits they can offer to the area. He even carries a copy of the law on their units to present if need be. Roll call was done to take vote from the council with Melissa Jones voting no and requesting it go to the people to vote, Greenlief voted yes to remove the old ordinance, along with Bruce Kolsun and Auvil, with Samuel Blosser voting along with Jones, and Wagner voting yes with a four to remove to two to not remove, motion carried. Auvil then moved to adopt the state code with Greenlief making a second. Roll call was done again with Jones saying no, again thinking the citizens need to vote along with Blosser, and Wagner, Greenlief, Kolsun, and Auvil voted yes. The motion carried and state code was adopted to be applied in the city of Parsons.
Holly Ferguson was represented at the meeting by Amy Wagner. Wagner briefed everyone that Ferguson recently purchased and restored a house in the Pulp Mill Bottom when Officer N. Gidley stopped by to discuss a trailer sitting on the property. Wagner said she stopped by and spoke with Code Enforcement Officer N. Gidley regarding protocol of ordinance violations, when he informed her, “That you all (Mayor Judy and the council) tell him who to call to give a violation to, that’s what he said to me, today, and he wrote down the orders he gave.” “No, Amy, when it comes from us it comes from you also, we’re all together,” replied Judy. Wagner stated she was never contacted about it and asked who told Code Enforcement Officer N. Gidley to go to that residence since his orders had to come from someone. No one could answer that question. Wagner then quoted the ordinance procedure and stated, “My thing with Holly Ferguson is she was trying to restore and better our community. She didn’t even own this property for 20 days before you guys sent him over to give her a violation,” she said. Wagner then called Ferguson and placed her on speaker phone to address the council. She stated she did not receive a citation, but the police showed up at her door and they also served her a fire fee bill. Judy informed her water bill, which also includes the fire fee, wasn’t paid that is why she received that bill. As for the camper, Judy said the previous owner had been attempting to remove it for approximately 6 months prior to Ferguson purchasing the property. Since this occurrence, the camper has supposedly been relocated, to which Wagner asked, “Did you go and knock on their door? It’s been there a week now.” “We need to find that out,” Judy replied.
Once the conversation with Ferguson ended, Wagner stated she feels the ordinance needs to be laid out better in general because of the backlash it is causing. She also had another resident, Susan Marks, approach her regarding issues she has had with complaints of a truck in her yard she uses for photographs. Emotions soared as conversations continued regarding why some people keep receiving litter notices when other dilapidated buildings are allegedly not being addressed. Kolsun told Wagner she was one of the driving forces behind this ordinance, to which she agreed, but felt it was not being carried out fairly or appropriately.
Before the meeting moved on, Wagner said, “Let me say one more thing. I have on video of you all laughing at me, at my name, several times, I have on tape. I am seeking legal advice.” “Oh for Pete’s sake,” Auvil said. “I don’t laugh at anybody,” commented Kolsun. “Really?” replied Wagner, “Because you did.” “I’m excusing myself from the rest of this meeting,” said Wagner. “You guys have a nice evening,” she said as she left the room. Myers made the comment for the council not to forget, this meeting was being recorded as the doors were closed to cancel out background noise.
The former meetings minutes were approved and Assistant Administrator and Finance Director Danielle Sponaugle presented an invoice list for $37,705.59. Auvil made a motion to pay the invoice with a second by Blosser. Myers then suggested moving onto another section of the agenda to release the next speaker, stating “We need to move onto this so he can get out of this * s [explective] show.” “Aren’t you glad you’re not here anymore?” asked Judy, directing her comment to former councilmember Nick Carr, as she directed the attention of the council to new business. The purpose is to consider insurance quotes from G.J. Garton Insurance Agency and AssuredPartners, Inc. as they contacted Assured via phone. The Assured representative apologized for not being in attendance, but recapped their proposals being the current provider of the city for over two decades. He stated remaining with his company may be beneficial in the occurrence of a claim in preventing premium increases. As he explained their proposal, Judy asked if he had some numbers to offer the council for consideration, which he referred them to their proposals. He explained the figures as they scanned his quotes with a grand total of $100,287.31.
Nick Carr, with G.J. Garton, spoke next regarding their proposals for the city and their differences in offerings. Myers commented on the thoroughness from Carr and other Garton employees on the preparation of the quotes to ensure Parsons will be covered in every aspect and angle. Auvil stated he and Myers recently went over the current policy and found several issues. Carr felt that with their current policy, they were underinsured approximately $4,000,000. After he finished his explanation, Judy asked Myers for his personal opinion on the two companies. Myers explained his experiences with both and how much more insurance for a lower premium the city would receive by going with G.J. Garton. Kolsun moved that once the contract expires to transfer the insurance business of the City of Parsons to G.J. Garton with Jones making a second.
Myers bounced back to the revenue budget report for the general fund and coal severance fund for approval, which all agreed. Chief T.D. Roberts had nothing to report on though Auvil did mention he would like to know exactly what happened over the Ferguson ordeal, however he was redirected. Myers stated he wanted to brag on Code Enforcement Officer N. Gidley for his work on the policies and procedures manual prepared for review by Chief T.D. Roberts as well as patrolling properties and working on delinquent accounts. Myers said he is very professional in his business and doing a great job. He continued to say, “I did apply for monies, and I’m sorry she’s (Wagner) not here to listen to this because I think she would be appreciative of that, maybe not, anyway $10,000 I applied for a grant and there’s no match, and I do believe we’re going to get it.” “It is $5,000 to update our building codes, that is to update them to bring them up to state and national codes,” he explained. This includes dilapidated, vacant, and all buildings and is done by a professional. “The other $5,000 actually provides training to Nick to be a certified code enforcement officer,” which would make him certified through the state.
Judy and Myers recently attended a Brownfield meeting and were asked to be speakers. There they learned about programs to assist with demolition projects. This lead to the conversation regarding the building falling in near the intersection of Route 72 and 219. Myers then added, “I assure you, we do not pick on anybody in the office, we do not target people, properties have been on this list for months,” which is why he felt Code Enforcement Officer Gidley addressed Ferguson. Kolsun agreed that names are not even considered when evaluating these properties, it’s based on physical addresses. Myers continued with blacktopping updates as he thanked Blosser for his contribution to the projects.
Auvil provided an update to the council on behalf of the Parks and Rec Board with a match grant program which requires a contribution of $45,000 from the parks in order to receive a full match of another $45,000 from this program. Auvil wants to mimic the type of equipment at Mill Race with that of River City Park. More investigation will commence to see what other type of support can be reached with this program without spending the full $90,000, so he made a motion to grant authority to the Parks and Rec Board at their discretion after clarification. All agreed.
Unfinished business began with matters pertaining to the Kingsford Sewer Extension Project, which has no updates, and the Parsons Industrial Park. Myers spoke with the surveyor and he is moving forward, however there is a discrepancy on the boarder of the U.S. Forest Service. The Wastewater Collection and Treatment System Upgrade Project have a few additions to the agreement, including a new vac truck and a specific pump. Auvil moved to accept the engineering agreement with Thrasher, with Jones making a second and all in favor.
This brought the meeting to new business where they mentioned the alleys, sidewalks, streets, and signs committee meeting on Monday at 9 a.m. to deal with current matters. Next was to consider an ordinance requiring address numbers to be clearly displayed on all houses, residences, and buildings fronting on public streets and alleys. Dave Gidley presented a sample ordinance derived from others across the state and country that Parsons could simulate. Not having the numbers causes a much slower response time for 911 and first responders in emergency situations. Judy recommended turning this topic over to the ordinance committee. The last line item for new business was to consider allowing members of City Council and employees to attend the 2019 State Auditor’s Training seminar for Municipal Officials and Assistants on November 6 in Bridgeport. All agreed.
This concluded the meeting of the Parsons City Council, who will come together again on Tuesday October 1 at 6 p.m.