SHEPHERDSTOWN – On Tuesday evening, Shepherdstown City Council resumed its monthly meeting in Zoom format. The online meeting covered a variety of lengthy discussions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the city‘s approval of grant funding.
To start the meeting, the City Council quickly approved the third and final reading of the City Bonds Ordinance “Authorizing the issuance of a maximum amount of $ 1,250,000 in aggregate principal of the Corporation of Shepherdstown Water tax obligations”. The Bond ordinance will help the city to cover its project to renovate and improve its water supply system.
The first reading of amendments and adoptions to 13 of the city’s other ordinances followed, and was also unanimously approved by the city council. Changes to the ordinance ranged from how to deal with minors using false IDs to theft of parking meters.
“Most of them were penalty phase adjustments, either because they were too much or because they were not enough. These were still in the books ”, Shepherdstown Police Department Chief Mike King said of the orders currently in place. “It was just to catch up with me. West Virginia state law has changed over the years, and we have never caught up with it. “
King also took a moment to introduce the new member of the Shepherdstown Police Department, Constable Bryce Dickens. Dickens, a resident of Sharpsburg, Md., Is currently learning the ropes, having held the recently vacant position on September 9.
Mayor Jim Auxer then presented a plan that could allow the city to make money while helping the surrounding community. The plan, proposed by Martinsburg resident David Deamer, who is on the Jefferson County Broadband Committee, will not cost the city a dime.
“We discussed the use of water tanks to access the internet in rural areas outside of Shepherdstown”, said Deamer. “What we’ve been discussing is simply having the ability to manage the wireless assets on the tower, opening up the area for broadband providers to come and place their signal to go to areas where there is access. fault. I would deal with all potential requests for use on the tower.
“The broadband equipment is quite small, in terms of the equipment that would go on the tower – it’s about the size of a pie plate. It’s a pretty small piece of equipment, and everything would be managed by the wireless group, to make sure it’s safe and secure on the water tanks ”, said Deamer. “The speed capabilities just aren’t there right now. There is a five mile radius outside the tower which [this project] should give way to a better Internet.
According to Auxer, Charles Town is currently making up to $ 4,000 a month from companies that lease water tower space.
“Just 150 meters from the city, internet service drops significantly. I was really surprised to learn that ”, said Auxer. “By using the water towers for service, we are able to significantly help our community.
The city council unanimously approved the project.
Although concerns about new strains of the coronavirus were raised at the monthly city council meeting on Tuesday evening, the city council approved the return of social distancing events for the upcoming holiday season.
While some of the events have not been carefully considered, regarding how to deal with the problems of the spread of COVID-19, City Councilor Jenny Haynes said she knows those involved will understand the need to cancel them, if security demanded it.
“I think we need to organize these events rather than canceling them, because I think people need them”, said City Councilor Chris Stroech. “We have to have a balanced approach to all of this and really adjust to it. “
With safety and celebration also in mind, City Council and organizers Steve Pearson and Haynes have agreed on tentative decisions to allow trick-or-treating in town, but not to make it happen. The advertisement; to organize BooFest events for adults like the Vampire Ball and “Polar” dance, but not entertainment for children, due to lack of vaccine for children under 12; hold Haynes’ annual haunted house in the War Memorial; organize the annual Shepherdstown Rotary Club Christmas Parade; and to once again host Christmas events in Shepherdstown, such as an in-person Christmas tree lighting ceremony and fundraiser for Kiwanis chili cuisine.
City Council also unanimously approved the resumption of the sidewalk cost-sharing program, which the city will allocate $ 40,000 to fund. Public Works Director Frank Welch is leading an investigation of the city’s sidewalks to determine which ones are most in need of repair. Residents who own the adjoining properties will be contacted by the city with return requests, regarding funding they would need to repair the sidewalks themselves or for a professional to do so.
“I think the last time this was done was in 2017” Welch said. “We went around trying to hit all the sidewalks finding cracks and other issues. We’re going to do all the sidewalks in town.
The meeting ended, shortly after a contentious vote in favor of the city accepting the US bailout matching grant. The grant money will be used to help the city cover the $ 1 million increase in the cost of the water treatment plant upgrade project. However, several members of the city council expressed concern that the city would bear the brunt of the cost of the project, as the project itself would have a significant impact on people outside the Corporation of Shepherdstown.
“Some of these things happen all of a sudden. We didn’t know we were gonna get this [grant], then they asked us if we had the $ 560,000 to match it. What we have done “, Auxer said, mentioning that the grant was recommended by the finance committee. “There has been a lot of thinking about it, a lot of rumination.”