County Commission agrees to help fund a magical musical performance

GRAFTON—The Taylor County Commission agreed to help send the Grafton High School Marching Band to Walt Disney World in Florida.

The trip is slated for April 7, and the students are excited to go perform, while marching with Mickey Mouse down Main Street, Disney, according to Christopher Rucker, band director.

“I’ve always been able to send the kids through our fundraising efforts, but this year, we ended up a little short,” explained Rucker.

According to Rucker, it is going to cost approximately $70,000 to send the band to Disney. He said that equates to $815, per student.

“The band boosters are responsible for covering $515 of that cost, and then the parents and students have to pay the remaining $300 difference,” shared Rucker.

He explained to the commissioners that this year, the boosters came up $2,000 short for the trip.

“So, your trip is going to cost $70,000 and you have come up with $68,000 of that,” questioned Commissioner Rusty Efaw. “It would be a shame for the group to miss out, when they were so close.”

Rucker said he hadn’t thought about going to the commission or the Grafton City Council to ask for help funding the trip, until someone mentioned that they might be able to help out. He said he has been fundraising for the past 18 years, and that is all he has ever known.

“I know we’ve helped sports teams before,” said Commission President Orville Wright. “Recently, we helped the girl’s softball team get a cover for their field.”

Rucker said he is trying to instill a sense of community in his band members.

“I’m trying to make good people, not just good musicians,” explained Rucker. “The band is very supportive of the community. We play at the Memorial Day ceremonies and parade, as well as, the Veteran’s Day parade and the Christmas parade.”

He said, in addition, this Christmas season, the band held a food drive to help collect food for needy families in the area. According to Rucker, the band collected enough food to feed nearly 40 families.

“Well, you have a good band, Chris,” expressed Commissioner Tony Veltri. “We are very proud of you.”

Rucker told the commissioner that the band would make them and our community proud, while performing in Florida, at Disney.

The commissioners agreed that they thought it was a good cause to give $2,000 to. A motion to give the money was made and accepted.

“I appreciate it very much, and my students appreciate it too,” said Rucker. “We will do anything we can to make Taylor County proud.”

During the meeting, an update was made about the proposed nature/walking trail, presented to the commission by Phil Kelley.

After questions arose at the last meeting, Kelley met with CSX to ask what land previously belonged to them, which was later given to the commission. He said he was told the right-of-way for the railroad was 30-feet wide, and ran along the banks of the Tygart River, from the bridge almost to the dam.

The commissioners presented Kelley with a list of questions, and told him once the questions were answered completely, the Save the Tygart Watershed, who would be leasing the land for the trail, would need to have a lease agreement presented to Taylor County Prosecuting Attorney John Bord.

“Once a lease agreement is drawn up, and John looks over it, we can go from there,” expressed Wright.

In addition, Olive Ricketts and Dave Cantu, with the Taylor County Historical and Genealogical Society, were present to ask the commission for help with funding a new roof for the old M&M Bank building.

Cantu explained to the commission that the society currently owns three buildings, but plans to use that one to house a museum and conference rooms.

Cantu told the commissioners that he believes the estimated cost of the roof replacement will be close to $75,000, which includes restoring the witch’s hat at the top of the spire. The building has a rolled roof that suffered damage during the April 2016 hailstorm.

“There were around 25-30 holes that have been patched, but the roof needs replaced,” said Ricketts.

The society is applying for a grant that would cover the cost of the replacement of a roof, but Cantu said they would only be asking for $50,000.

Cantu told the commissioners that he and Ricketts had attended the City Council meeting earlier in the day, and they had agreed to help with the costs.

“We will match the $10,000 that the City Council has pledged,” explained Wright. “Should you receive the grant, we will give you $10,000, as well.”

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