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Wellsburg water problems discussed

August 14, 2013
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

WELLSBURG - The city manager on Tuesday responded to some concerns about the city's water service and City Council granted permission for a concert and town run to benefit a cancer patient.

Second Ward Councilman Paul T. Billiard asked City Manager Mark Henne about efforts to upgrade the city's water treatment system at Tueday's council meeting.

Henne said new equipment, including a new chlorination system, is being installed at the water treatment plant to improve the water's quality and divers have cleaned the reservoir and clear well and he hopes the upgrades can be completed by September.

Article Photos

SPECIAL THANKS — Wellsburg Mayor Sue Simonetti, City Manager Mark Henne and Wellsburg Council thanked the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee for organizing the city’s weeklong celebration of Independence Day. Participating were, front, from left, committee members 2nd Ward Councilman Brian Tennant, 1st Ward Councilman Bruce Hunter, Joellen Pizer, Barbara Yoder, the group’s treasurer; Morgan Engle, Debbie Baker, co-chair; and Simonetti; and back, Henne and Cecil Toner, co-chair. -- Warren Scott

He noted the efforts have been delayed by some setbacks, including two breaks to the main line to the plant and to water lines along state Route 2 near Graphic Packaging and 24th Street that left customers north of 22nd Street without water sporadically over the weekend.

Following the meeting, Henne said the disruption was unfortunate but not as extensive as in the past when such breaks would have resulted in large areas of the city being without service. He noted the addition of several valves to the water lines have enabled the city to reduce areas affected by such line breaks.

In addition to local media, the city has used a Facebook page, through the efforts of Daniell Diserio, a city clerk, to notify customers of disruptions in service.

Henne said the city is working to establish an automated calling system used by other municipalities to leave messages on water customers' phones.

Henne praised city crews who worked during the weekend to repair the line breaks.

Over the last few years the city has pursued various improvements to its water and wastewater systems with funds generated by the sale of $3.2 million in bonds and a $2.5 million 20-year federal loan.

During the meeting council granted a request by Rob Hilt, an organizer of the Michele's Miles for Smiles, to hold the run-walk at Central Park on Oct. 13 and a benefit concert featuring Refugee at the 18th Street Park on Oct. 5.

Hilt thanked city officials for supporting last year's walk, which raised $5,000 for Austin Powell, a Colliers boy with cancer. He said this year's event will benefit Paul Huff Jr., a Follansbee boy with a rare form of leukemia.

Hilt said the idea of helping a different cancer patient each year was something encouraged by Michelle Huffman, the young woman for whom the walk is named. Huffman and her husband, Alan, opened a Wellsburg restaurant and befriended many people through it and her involvement with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life prior to her death from cancer last year.

In other business, council:

- Approved the second readings for amendments to ordinances in the city's business and taxation code and building and housing code.

The business and taxation code was changed to shift the task of collecting delinquent business and occupation taxes from individuals appointed by the collector-treasurer to the city manager.

The building and housing code was changed to hold property owner and contractor responsible for securing required building permits and requiring permits for the demolition of structures.

City Solicitor Bill Cipriani said new language also clarifies what work requires and doesn't require a permit. For example, a homeowner painting the interior of his home isn't required to obtain a permit but is required to obtain one when hiring a contractor, though no fee is involved.

He said that helps to ensure contractors are bonded, have workers' compensation coverage and are paying business and operation tax to the city.

Another change to the code allows a building inspector to enter a privately owned structure in the event of an emergency. Otherwise, the building inspector must get permission from the owner or a court-issued search warrant.

- Discussed whether playground equipment from the former St. John School and donated by St. John Catholic Church should be placed at the city's 1st Ward or 4th Ward parks.

Billiard said the playground equipment best fits the 1st Ward Park and is most needed there, but Mayor Sue Simonetti said she believes church officials asked for it go to the 4th Ward.

Fourth Ward Councilman Charlie Harris said the equipment should go to the 4th Ward Park but agreed with Billiard that several safety concerns, including lack of fencing, needs to be addressed first.

- Approved the pavement of Charles Street from 16th to 17th streets at a cost of about $12,000. Henne said the section of street was inadvertently omitted from the city's paving list earlier this summer.

- Granted a request for $365 by Brooke Hills Park to cover lifeguards who worked during the park's National Kids Day event. The city has contributed for that portion of the event's cost in recent years.

- Simonetti and council recognized the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee for organizing a weeklong celebration of Independence Day. The volunteer group is headed by Debbie Baker and Cecil Toner, co-chairs; and Barbara Yoder, treasurer.

Simonetti also commented on the new Wellsburg Oldtime Festival held Saturday, saying it was relatively small but successful and she hopes it can become an annual event.

She thanked that event's committee, which includes Bill Konkle, Michelle Basil, Jon Meriwether and Francine Kraus, as well as the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Merco Marine for supporting it.

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