Moorefield Town Council approves pay raises

By Shawn Stinson, Moorefield Examiner

MOOREFIELD – Two requests to enter an executive session highlighted the latest Moorefield Town Council meeting.

All seven of the members of the council were present at the Sept. 6 meeting in the Council Room of Inskeep Hall.

The initial request for the council members to enter an executive session was made by Moorefield Police Chief Stephen Riggleman. The final request came minutes later when Lucas Gagnon, director of Public Works, asked for an executive session. Both requests were made due to personal issues.

The council members entered into an executive session for nearly 15 minutes regarding the request from Gagnon. The second part of the executive session to discuss the request from Riggleman lasted nearly an hour.

When the council members returned to the meeting, they approved pay increases for Tyler Riggleman and Brady Van Meter, Public Works employees, following a 90-day period. They also OK’d a pay increase for Doug Mongold, another Public Works employee, after he receives his Class 2 water operation training. Josh Eye will receive a pay increase immediately as a team leader under Juwana Titus, park director, and another raise on July 1, 2023.

The council members elected to not take any action on the other issue at this time.
Riggleman discussed the August police report with the council members. He informed them there were 202 calls for service received in the month, 13 felony arrests, 46 misdemeanor arrests, 70 traffic citations were issued and officers provided 149 traffic warnings.

Riggleman added officers have been enforcing school zone infractions since the school start on Aug. 19 in the county. He said officers have been “actively patrolling the back streets and areas near school zones.” Drivers passing school buses when the stop arms are extended are being investigated. Riggleman said seven arrests for drivers suspected of driving under the influence were made in August, including one from a traffic stop initiated for a school zone violation.

After presenting his monthly report, Riggleman discussed providing SIM cards to his officers to be installed in their body cameras. He added the cards will provide him with location information “to check to see where everybody is at.” Riggleman said the information will also show areas of the town “that aren’t being patrolled as much as they should be.”

Riggleman added the department has been working with the street department to get “some of vehicle issues worked at.” He mentioned fabricating printer mounts and replacing the blue lights and spotlights on the older patrol vehicles. Riggleman said officials with Pilgrims Prepared Foods donated a copy/fax machine to the department. He said it was a needed item to avoid taking individuals under arrest upstairs or leaving them alone in the office. He added an additional phone line would need to be installed to connect the fax machine.

The council members were informed of a malfunction to the license plate reader on Winchester Avenue. Riggleman said the data from Aug. 20 to Sept. 1 was lost due to the malfunction, but the equipment is “back up and running.”

In his monthly report, Gagnon said there was one service line leak during the month of August. He said a small section of the line at South Fork Estate Lane need to be replaced. Gagnon said a boil water notice was issued as a result of the break.

Gagnon said the South Branch Inn Pump Station upgrade was completed and the two pumps have been installed and “are working great.” He added employee have painted the new restroom at the concession stand at the town park. Gagnon said there is an on-going storm drainage issue on Washington Street near Fraley Funeral Home. He added it may need to be cut and tied into another inlet.
At the end of his report, Mayor Carol Zuber asked Gagnon about a date for the grand opening for the water plant. No date was set at the meeting.

An item carried over from the Aug. 16 meeting was the opening of bids for paving of portions of several streets including Central Avenue, Clay Street and Third Street. Gagnon said he received two bids and expected another before the end of the bidding process. He said one company elected to not submit a bid. The lowest bid received for the project was from Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating based in Strasburg, Virginia. Gagnon said the bid was for $393,716. At the meeting, Gagnon requested the council members accept the lowest bid before the final bid was received. The council members unanimously approved the request.

Vic Shockey, the town’s code enforcement officer, presented the council members with the August report. Shockey highlighted the total number of violations reported in the previous month. He said there were 39 property owners contacted regarding 85 various code violations. Shockey added 79 of those violations were resolved and six were still pending.

There were 31 grass or weeds violations in August, 13 violations for yard junk and clutter, 11 violations for trash, eight for zoning issues, another eight for brush issues, five violations for junk or abandoned vehicles, four for trailer underpinning, three for not having a town business license and two for unsafe or unsecure structures.

For the year, Shockey said there have been a total of 526 code violations and 515 have been resolved. There are still 11 pending, one has received an official notification and legal action has been taken on one. There have been 108 grass or weed violations, 97 violations for yard junk and clutter, 96 trash violations, 61 violations for junk or abandoned vehicles, 44 violations for brush, 32 violations for trailer underpinning, 31 violations for sidewalk hazards due to snow or ice, 17 violations for unsafe or unsecure structures, 12 violations regarding fowl or livestock, 10 violations for no building permit, 10 violations for zoning issues, six violations for not having a town business license and two violations for barking dogs.

Shockey also presented the council members with the four approved building or improvement permits. The first was requested by Mike Phillips to demolish two outbuildings and to do groundwork at a property on Washington Street. The estimated cost is $200,000. The permit was issued on Aug. 10.
The second permit was also issued on Aug. 10 to Trina Branson to erect a fence at a property on Central Avenue. The estimated cost is $6,000.

A permit was issued on Aug. 2 to T-Mobile to perform nearly $25,000 in upgrades to a tower located on South Fork Road.

The final permit issued in the month was provided to Roy Hendrickson on Aug. 29 for paying a parking lot located on S. Main Street. The estimated cost of the paying is $15,000.

Shockey said there have been 50 permits used this year for an estimated improvement value of slightly less than $1 million.

Before concluding his report, Shockey said he will be pushing code enforcement through September to ensure the town is looking good for the upcoming Heritage Weekend.

In other action, following a brief discussion, the council members unanimously voted to schedule trick of treating in the town for Halloween from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31. They also unanimously approved a request from officials with Believers Victory Center to hold a live nativity scene on Dec. 4 at the town parking lot
The council members unanimously approved purchasing 35 to 40 mums a $6 a mum to place in the downtown area. They also unanimously OK’d paying the invoices submitted since the last meeting.

One item on the agenda was briefly discussed before being tabled by the council members. Zuber suggested renaming Sewer Plant Drive in honor of the late Gary Stalnaker, former mayor of Moorefield. Council members and town employees suggested finding another street to be renamed for Stalnaker.
The minutes from the Aug. 15 meeting were unanimously accepted without comment. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Council Room of Inskeep Hall.

The next farmer’s market associated with Celebrate Moorefield is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The last farmer’s market is set for Oct. 15. Another food truck day is set for Oct. 22.