The Moorefield Town Council approved the fourth draw from the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for the water plant project at their last meeting of 2019 on December 17.
The sum drawn was $215,737.10. This pays both the construction company and the engineering firm, Triton Construction, Inc. and Gwin Dobson Foreman.
The project is running behind schedule. It is 100 days into construction, with a Summer 2021 deadline.
Per the most recent update, half of the clear well is excavated, intake walls have been poured, and a box culvert will go in after Christmas. Triton plans to add people and work five days weekly, rather than the four they’ve been working.
Public Works Director Lucas Gagnon clarified procedures with the Council: “We can’t direct them how to do their job; we can only make sure they do it properly.”
Gagnon meets monthly with Mickey Carr, who is Gwin Dobson Foreman’s resident inspector, representatives from the USDA and Triton, and City Clerk Rick Freeman for progress reports, which includes schedule updates.
Requested Consent for Refugees
Catholic Charities of West Virginia has placed refugees in Moorefield. Due to federal law changes, they now require a letter of consent from the Town.
These are vetted and certified political refugees. Moorefield is an ideal location, because they can work in local factories.
“It doesn’t change anything,” said Mayor Gary Stalnaker.
Moorefield is the second largest refugee population in West Virginia.
Fawley mentioned concerns regarding safety, security, and vetting, but noted he also knew people who had been in prison camps and tortured.
The Council tabled the discussion, requesting a presentation from Catholic Charities.
Previously, Park Director Juwana Bridger asked the Council to help pay part or all of a welding course for Park personnel. They found the training, and did the research to determine what was available and at what costs.
South Branch Valley Career and Technical Center has an 106-hour course for $1200. Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College has an 80-hour course for $2200.
Council member Carol Zuber expressed concern that if the council agreed to pay for this course, more employees would start asking for courses, get trained, and then leave.
Council member Terry Hardy asked if it was possible to, in that circumstance, make employees pay back the costs.
Other concerns included an employee requesting training for a skill not relevant to his or her current job, or for a skill that isn’t necessarily needed.
Gagnon clarified that the Town does need welders.
Council member Scott Fawley asked if it could be possible for a class to be brought to the Town, as it would be more cost-efficient.
“Eric (Linville) and Josh (Eye) sought it out, and brought it to us,” Zuber said. “I think we should send them, and create a policy for future requests.”
Zuber went on to suggest that if an employee quits the class, he or she owes the money back to the Town. If the employee finishes training, then he or she would have to stay with the Town for a certain number of years.
Fawley, who’d worked with Eastern through Pilgrims, said Eastern has access to grants that allow them to bring training to the community.
“I like a well-trained work force,” Fawley said, “But this creates issues.”
The Council ultimately denied Bridger’s request, but tabled the issue for future discussion.
Civil War Markers
The Council also tabled a decision on paying upkeep and maintenance for local Civil War Trail markers.
The markers, which are on Olivet Cemetery, at the McMechen House, Presbyterian Church, and on Harness Road, provide information on historical locations in and around Moorefield.
The cost is $200 per year per marker, so the total cost is $800 per year.
The Council expressed concern over the actual use of funds provided.
The truck that was available in November, isn’t, now, Gagnon said, but said they’re still looking online for a truck that meets the Town’s needs and is reasonably priced.
The Council approved buying a Vactor truck for up to $100,000. Gagnon said he would at least email for approval if it’s time-sensitive, and brief at a meeting if it’s not.
Hardy asked about a fire hydrant on Spring Avenue, which seems to be in an awkward position. Gagnon said they can put posts up around it, to protect it.
The next meeting is January 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall. The public is invited to attend.