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City of Welch Considers Road Annexation, Approves Annual Project Priority List and New Building Inspector

By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor

WELCH, WV – Property annexation, an annual Project Priority list, and more were discussed at Monday’s City of Welch City Council Meeting.

“I’ve talked with the County Commission, and what we would like to do is annex up to the Superior Bridge, just the highway itself,” said McBride. “Kimball is going to come down and we will butt up against each other there. We think that will help as we go along. Second, I think they’ve done core drilling on that bridge. I think they’ll replace that bridge before too long and the B&O taxes will help us considerably.”

Looking ahead to the future, McBride also suggested expanding City limits to the Wyoming County line, also taking in the future Highway 73/74 exchange site. 

“We’re not taking any housing into City limits so we won’t need to hold public hearings,” said McBride. “We just approach the County Commission and they vote to allow it or not.”

William Spencer and Steve Ford motioned to approach the County Commission concerning the annexation. It was approved. 

“Are we going to look at Edmore Village sometime in the future,” asked Councilman Mike Day.

“I think we’ll get some resistance there, but I would love to,” said McBride. 

“We had discussed it previously, they’re getting the benefit of fire and police protection from the City,” said Day. 

Jim Spence also questioned about city limits on Premier Mountain, with the park being confirmed as the end of City limits. 

Next was discussion of the City’s Annual Project Prioritization list to be submitted to the Region One Planning & Development Council. 

Region One also creates an annual priority list to match against County and Municipality priorities. 

“If we get high on their list, we may be able to go through them for funding instead of the other State grants,” said McBride.

An aging holding tank for the City’s water topped the list, already subject to some leaks. 

“At some point we’re going to have to address that,” said McBride. “If something happened to that thing, we’re totally out of water. It was put in during the 70s and needs some serious attention and serious money to do it”

Combined Sewer Overflows, binding water runoff and sewer together, were second on the list.

“If we don’t fix these, someone has to bring me chocolates in jail,” said McBride. “One is on McDowell Street, all the drains along the street go into the sewer. There’s another one coming off of Hobart Street.”

In the past, former Mayors Martha Moore and Reba Honaker took care of 28, leaving only two left for the City to fix. 

“One of them has to be done by 2024 and 2028,” said McBride. “We were talking the other day and we don’t want to wait.” 

McBride explained that he had contacted an engineer, seeking ways to address the problem without damaging pavement along McDowell Street. 

“We can go before we get to the treatment plant and start separating it out there,” said McBride. “I think it would be best to stay away from the street so the engineer is looking at that now.”

Restoration of the first Parking Building in the country was third. 

“One of my goals is to redo the Parking Building, new lighting, get it back up to par,” said McBride. “I think it will be utilized more and more. It’s the cheapest place to park, your vehicle is out of the weather. It’s not tremendous damage but it does have some that we need to look at.”

“Are there any grants from the Department of Arts and Culture,” asked Councilman William Spencer. 

“There are, but the quote to repair it, about 525,000, exceeds what grants are available,” said Jason Grubb. “Hopefully we can fix it in stages, but some stuff needs to be addressed right now, structural fixes. But overall, its a half million dollar project.”

Lighting may be a faster fix in the parking structure, with Grubb saying it would cost $5,000 if the City handled the labor. 

“I look forward to the new lights, we got a good deal from a company in Pennsylvania and the Mayor can install anything,” said Grubb. “We’ll get double duty out of him.” 

Grubb said he recently met with Charleston representatives and officials, all of whom promised to be on the City of Welch’s side in finding funding for various projects. 

Restoring Historical Downtown Welch along McDowell Street was 4th on the City’s List. 

“We’re determined, we’re going to do something with Main Street,” said McBride. “We’ve met with building owners and we’re trying to work with them, not cram anything down anybody’s throat. If you have a vacant building with no money coming in, it’s hard to shell out a lot of money to put back into it. We’re looking for ways to help them also. At some point, we’ve got to get McDowell Street looking fantastic.”

North Welch water line replacement made 5th on the list, with aggressive soil cited as the primary cause of damage to the current metal lines laid in the 80s. 

“They’re getting eaten up,” said McBride. “It was put in before plastic was used, so it’s metal. The protective wrapping around it didn’t help much and we’re already changing some of it out so that will have to be looked at down the road. Premier is the same way. At some point we’ll have to do that as well.”

A clear well at the Water Plant and Sidewalks were 6 and 7th on the list, but the Community Center project involving both the City of Welch and the County Commission was discussed more in depth, 8th on the list. 

“It will be community for all of McDowell County if we get this pulled off,” said McBride.

Jim Spence questioned to what extent would the City be obligated to upkeep of the armory building. 

“Josh and I are going over that now, I’ve talked with the Commissioners,” said McBride. “We’ll be contracted to run it. The building, payment, expenses will be the County Commission’s responsibility. There’s now way we can handle the daily expenses of utlities and all that. I’d like to see it someday hold it’s own. Maybe a joint account between the City and County to funnel anything the Center made itself and that could pay staff and maintain it.”

The Council approved the Priority list for submission to Region One. 

The Council also met with Bob McKinney to approve his new position as Building Inspector for the City. 

“To be an inspector, you’re not just a certified electrician or contractor, you’re certified through the State Fire Marshal’s Office,” said McBride. “Bob is the only one I know that is qualified.”

McBride stated that having an Inspector can save a lot of trouble for residents in the area. 

“It saves a lot of people from getting ripped off, with some shady stuff that goes on with contractors,” said McBride. “It will be good for the City too.”

Speaking on the new Renaissance Village structure, McBride estimated the permit costs would have been $70,000 for the City if they had an inspector in place at the beginning of construction.

Mike Day motioned to approve McKinney, seconded by William Spencer. It was approved.

“It’s a two year probationary period, as soon as it’s approved by the State Fire Marshall, I can start issuing permits, doing all sorts of inspections and I have two years to get recertified,” said McKinney, currently waiting for everything to process with the State. 

“We’ve got all the faith in you Bob,” said Mike Day. 

The City Council also held the first reading for a property swap ordinance, trading a parcel beside the G.C. Murphy’s building for the location of the former Sports Den along McDowell Street.