Grafton City Council addresses mutliple agenda items Tuesday night

GRAFTON—Members of the Grafton City Council called their meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, with an agenda full of new business to discuss.

Douglas Robinson, with the American Legion Mountaineer Boys State, addressed members regarding funding needs required to send the boys to Charleston.

“We have four boys that are going and we are working on getting two more to commit,” shared Robinson. “We also send six counselors. The cost is $200 a body, so this year we need to have $2,400.”

He further revealed that next year the cost per body would be increased to $250.

Councilman Earl Bartlett questioned whether or not the boys hold fundraisers to help themselves, rather than just looking for handouts. Robinson explained that by the rule of the American Legion the boys participating could not be charged for the trip and are not permitted to hold fundraisers.

“Although they can’t do fundraisers, the boys put back into their community after the trip. In past years, we helped the city with clean up efforts before the Spirit of Grafton Festival. These boys work hard and help out as much as they can, as a way to ‘pay back’ those who support them,” clarified Robinson.

He also commented on how great the Boys State program is and how much the boys truly enjoy the learning opportunities acquired through the trip. According to Robinson, the trip comes with the possibility for each of the participants to earn three college credits, in just one week.

“I think that speaks volumes to how much these kids do and learn while on this trip, to earn three college credits in just one week, a lot of time and hard work are put in,” he expressed.

Councilman Tom Bartlett, being a past member of Boys State, informed council that the trip is extensively instructional.

“The extensive instructional exercise these boys go through is real and a lot of hard work. The trip isn’t about just running around having fun. They are given a Bar Exam and required to put their knowledge to the test,” said T. Bartlett. “It is truly a wonderful program. I will personally donate $150 to the cause.”

City Council briefly visited the idea of increasing the amount that had been previously budgeted for Boys State. However, it was the decision of the council to stick with their previously budgeted amount of $600.

“We do support Boys State and have made it a line item in our budget,” shared Mayor Peggy Barney. “I think with the cost of the trip increasing, that perhaps next year we can revisit our budget at the beginning of the year, and possibly increase our contribution at that time.”

Robinson parted by thanking council for their gracious donation.

In addition, council held public hearings for 2017-2018 Current Expense Levy Rates, as well as the 2017-2018 Street Paving Excess Levy Rates. Citizens who were in attendance were given opportunities to discuss each levy. However, with a quiet crowd, the hearings were closed, and council members approved both rates.

Bids were also opened for the asbestos abatement/removal at the old Grafton Middle School, located at 225 West Washington Street. A single bid from a Morgantown independent contractor, Joe Jordan, came in at $285,000.

“The longer we wait, the more it will end up costing. The building is unsafe and could injure someone. Then we would have that on our hands,” remarked Vice Mayor Brenda Thompson.

E. Bartlett voiced his concerns of an increasing cost if more asbestos than they were accounting for was to be discovered. After a short discussion, council decided that they would make a final decision during their next meeting.

In other business, new members for the Grafton-Taylor Board of Health, the City of Grafton Planning Commission and the City of Grafton Historic Landmarks Commission, were all approved.

City Manager Kevin Stead also gave a brief update on plans for the Spirit of Grafton Festival.

He shared that the local Bluegrass group Hillbilly Gypsies would be performing on Friday, May 26 at 8:00 p.m. and that Sprint Communications had graciously donated money to the event with a request that the main stage be called the Sprint Stage.

“An official schedule of events should be ready in the next week or so,” concluded Stead.

Mayor Barney would like to remind the citizens of Taylor County that all City Council meetings are open to the public, and that public attendance is highly encouraged.