Elkins City Council discusses armory

Elkins City Council met in executive session for nearly an hour and a half Thursday to discuss the possibility of working with other local agencies to purchase the old National Guard Armory in Elkins.

Just moments into Thursday’s council meeting, Councilman Bob Woolwine called for council to enter into executive session “on a real estate matter.”

Mayor Van Broughton asked that council members bring Robbie Morris, the executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority, and Mark Tomblyn of the Mountain State Forest Festival board of directors into the session as well.

Council emerged from the executive session 1 hour and 25 minutes later, with Broughton announcing that “no action was taken.”

After the meeting, city officials said they are working on finding a way to save the old Armory.

“We’re listening. There will be further discussions as council continues to look into the issue,” Broughton said.

“The city needs to analyze what its capabilities are and determine what its next step should be,” City Clerk Sutton Stokes said.

The construction of the new $15.5 million Armed Forces Reserve Center, located just off Corridor H near Coalton, has made the old Armory obsolete. In January, a feasibility study, initiated by the RCDA, was presented to local agencies to provide information on the costs of maintaining and upgrading the building.

At the time, officials were told they would have about six months to decide whether or not they could put together a plan to purchase the building.

After Thursday’s meeting, Stokes said the city had not been given a firm deadline, but it was understood that a decision must be made within a few months.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

– Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley said the city’s new Yard Waste Recycling Program will be an annual event.

On the first Tuesday of every month through October, the city will pick up yard waste placed by the curb by 6 a.m. Acceptable items include grass, tree and shrub trimmings, leaves, hay and plant debris. Branches and brush up to 2 inches in diameter and 8 feet in length will be picked up; they should be tied in bundles with a string or twine, but not wire.

Leaves and yard waste should be placed in paper compostable yard waste bags or plastic garbage bags. Residents may also bring yard waste to the Waste Water Collection and Transmission Department, located at 31 Jones Drive, Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. from now through October.

Pingley pointed out that the new program was undertaken in connection with the settlement of a civil action against the city.

The action involved waste water issues in the city dating back about a dozen years, Pingley said. The federal and state governments brought the action against Elkins on behalf of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection under the Clean Water Act.

The city paid more than $60,000 in fines, Pingley said, and will spend a similar amount to create the new yard waste program. The city negotiated to create the new program as a way of “keeping some of the money in the area and doing something positive with it locally instead of sending it all away,” Pingley said.

– Pingley said the city has received a quote for how much it would cost to buy a backup generator to power City Hall in an electrical outage.

The price was $75,000 for a 60-kilowatt generator, Pingley said. Council members said they would look into the matter.

– Police Chief H.R. White told council that the Randolph County Board of Education had provided a $6,000 check to help support his department’s drug dog, K-9 officer Macy.

White said there is “another offer on the table” from an anonymous donor to provide funding for a second drug dog for the department. White said he was leaning toward accepting the offer, because having two drug dogs working on different shifts would give the city better coverage in fighting the local drug problem.

The next City Council meeting will be May 16 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.