By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, WV – The City of Welch Council met Monday, November 4th, 2019 to discuss the following:
Building Code Inspections
No new building permits were presented to the Council Monday, but Mayor Harold McBride updated everyone about contracting out a Building Code Inspector.
“Josh (Miller) has told us that we’re legal to contract the Inspector out so that turns us loose to let Bob (McKinney) get everything he needs together,” said McBride. “Once he gets his paperwork done, we’ll come back before you. Josh and I are also going to meet with the Fire Marshal’s Office one more time to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
McBride advised the Council that after that meeting, the next step would be to adopt a State Code that is subject to immediate enforcement.
“We can then issue permits and do the inspections,” said McBride.
Police Judge Chosen
Bobby Bowman agreed to become the City of Welch’s next Police Judge and it was approved by Council.
“We now have a police judge which will help because we’ve been getting backed up,” said McBride. “I think with his expertise, he’ll be good.”
New Building Commission Member
With steps being made to adopt and enforce State Code in the City of Welch, Mayor McBride recommended adding Hoppy Horne to the Building Commission.
“He has good building skills, he knows materials, he knows what needs to be done to make a building safe, so I would recommend we approve him,” said McBride.
Mike Day motioned to approve, seconded by William Spencer. It passed.
Levy Election Order
The next thing up for Council approval was the Levy Election Order for the Saturday, February 1st upcoming election.
“It allows us to maintain street lighting, the pool, street repair and it continues to be a vital part of our budget,” said McBride.
“A lot of the citizens think tax increases when they hear the word levy, so there’s really not going to be an increase to pay more,” asked Kathy Gentry.
“It will be a continuance for what’s already in place,” said Robin Lee. “It’s been the same for over 50 years.”
Once clarified that it would not affect tax rates, it was approved.
Coal Heritage Grant Resolution
A resolution for a Coal Heritage grant was presented for Council approval next.
“This is a resolution the Council needs to approve for a grant that will help provide a walking tour of Welch’s historic commercial district,” said Lee. “Signs will be placed on buildings with their historical information.”
“Has anyone been to Matewan,” asked McBride. “You’ll notice how they have signs on all the old, important buildings. This would be the same thing.”
The grant would require a $655 match for a $1310 grant and it was approved.
Mayor McBride presented a hand-drawn representation of a new vision for Patriot Park near Coney Island in Welch.
“I went to the American Legion the other night,” said McBride. “They seemed awfully happy at the thought of having something for them.”
The vision for the update park would include a smaller replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall emblazoned with the slogan, “For all who served America,” suggested by Charles Honaker. A stepping stone path leading past the Corky Foster monument and across the Rt. 52 Bypass exit.
McBride also said he’d like to put a small fountain in, some benches for visitors to enjoy the park from and new sign reading Patriot Park.
“Jason (Grubb) is about to secure some money so I’m going to get some of the guys and we’ll start cutting some trees back, start getting ready,” said McBride.
“Is there any issue with the bypass road coming through there,” asked Gentry.
“That’s the only thing, hopefully we can talk with the State to get us a sign to say crossing there,” said McBride.
“Possibly some speed bumps too,” said Gentry.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mike Day.
“Well we have more veterans per capita than anywhere else in the world,” said McBride. “It only seems right we do something for them.”
Head of the Dragon
Before the meeting adjourned, Councilman Mike Day asked if any feedback had been received about potentially relocating the Head of the Dragon statue to a more acomodating location for visiting bikers.
“No I haven’t, we offered to do it with them, but I haven’t heard back,” said McBride.
“I heard some of the riders weren’t happy with it,” said Day.
“They’re not. Most of the things like that are designed so you can pull you bike up to it and everybody take a picture. Tazewell has a special place for them to pull up,” said McBride. “We offered to put it up on the bypass.”
“They like that idea,” asked Gentry.
“There are some people that aren’t happy with it but I think once its done they will be,” said Mike Day.
“We could make it really, really nice,” said McBride. ”I proposed taking a 4×8 sheet of metal, painted white and weld the head to that so it will display nicely against the white. Then we can also have a map of all the businesses around it so somebody comes in, they can see. We can pour a small pad in front of it so you can pull your bike up and take a picture.”
McBride said the overlook could also have room for a covered picnic area highlighting information about Welch and surrounding areas.
“But we haven’t got any feedback yet,” said McBride. “It’s really their’s, so we need to wait and see what they want to do.”
Potential Parking Building Renovation
The Parking Building, the oldest in the nation, has also been receiving some attention from the City, with hopes to restore it.
“The more I look at the Parking Building, the problem is surface. I’ve climbed all over it and under it. It’s really structurally sound. The surface needs some attention and painted more than anything else. That and lighting,” said McBride.
According to McBride, the City would use half the amount of lights currently in the aged structure by switching to LED lighting. He also wished to bring in a contractor to for a second opinion on the matter. Contracting with an engineer would be the next step towards the goal.