Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 28, 2013

Bluefield board could hold meetings in multiple districts

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Meetings of the Bluefield City Board of Directors may be coming closer to home as board members considered holding meetings in each of the city’s three districts.

Member Michael Gibson proposed holding board meetings throughout the city as a way for the new board to introduce themselves as well as to educate people about how the city operates.

“I would like for us to hold a meeting in each voting district,” Gibson said. “I think it would be instructive for us to take a board meeting to the people. I would propose we have at least one of those meetings at Bluefield State College.”

Vice-Mayor Barbara Thompson Smith agreed with Gibson.

“I would say having a meeting with the city board in the districts may bring more people to the meetings,” she said. “I’m not sure how that could be done.”

Mayor Tom Cole proposed City Manager Jim Ferguson could look into how and where the city could hold meetings in the different districts.

Ridge Runner Coordinator Lori Mills updated the board on the season for the train.

“We have a little over a month left in the Ridge Runner season,” she said. “We have had 10,428 riders this year and have very strong numbers. Our last day is Sept. 30. This is the third year we have been open. We also do private train rentals to businesses, churches and other organizations.”

Ferguson also updated the board on several ongoing projects taking place around the city. Ferguson said he was working with Appalachian Power to coordinate projects on Raleigh, Federal and Bland Streets so installation of electric lines did not interfere with sidewalk and other projects currently taking place in the area.

Additionally, Ferguson said the city was moving forward with a sidewalk replacement project on Bland Street ending at Clifford Street.

“We received a $100,000 grant from the Division of Highways for this project,” Ferguson said. “A lot of businesses and residents are inquiring about their sidewalks because they are seeing this done. This is only being done because there was state money provided for the project. The property owner is responsible for maintaining their own sidewalks.”

Ferguson said further study has also been made of the traffic change on Commerce Street.

“We removed the no left hand turn signs but have ordered caution signs for inclement weather,” he said. “We have discussed the possibility of putting a guardrail in the area. Officials with the library and Bluefield Preservation society are adamant we keep it one-way coming off Scott Street.”

City crews are overseeing other projects as well, Ferguson said.

“The public works department has been busy the last few weeks painting stripes and curbs, weed eating, cleaning up alleyways, patching potholes and they have demolished 28 houses,” Ferguson said. “That is the first time we have been under 100 structures on our demo list in quite some time. They have also been working on some improvements to the Rotary Green Park.”

Ferguson told the board he is also looking into the purchase of a covering for the new gym floor at the Herb Simms Youth Center.

“The parks and recreation department is looking into purchasing an estimated $9,000 floor covering,” Ferguson said. “The grant from the Shott Foundation should absorb the cost of that purchase. Having this floor covering will protect the floor and help that gym be a multi-use facility for events, such as the upcoming Italian Festival.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com