BLUEFIELD — The city board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to select a drawing dubbed as the “railyard crest” as the city’s new logo.
The illustration pays tribute to the city’s railroad history with a train and blue and green colors. It includes the slogan “Bluefield, West Virginia — Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.”
“We are not getting rid of the city seal,” Assistant City Manager Josh Cline said. “This is not a removal of it.”
Cline said the city’s seal will continue to be used in all official documents, proclamations and ordinances however, the new logo will be added to new vehicles that are purchased by the city and will be used in other venues promoting the city.
The new logo also reflects the “crest” or “hump” associated with the old Norfolk and Western railyard.
“The best way to explain it — the crest is significant, or the hump,” City Manager Dane Rideout said. “It is the natural gravity hump that was the highest point on what had previously been the Norfolk and Western rail line, and the rail riders used that gravity hump to collect east bound coal cars with the train.”
Rideout said choosing a new logo for Bluefield was important.
“It is a fresh start,” Rideout said. “It shows the city cares about its image. The new logo will be added to new vehicles as they are purchased in time”
For example, Rideout said the Shott Foundation has helped the city purchase three new Jeep Patriots that will be used as mobile offices for the city’s three code enforcement officers. “Those will be the first vehicles that we put this new logo on,” Rideout said.
In other action Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to turn over a list of 58 city accounts that are delinquent to a collection agency. The delinquent debts total a little over $89,000.
Board member Michael Gibson said he and Vice Mayor Barbara Thompson Smith did notice that the names of a few of the individuals on the list of delinquent accounts were those of people who are deceased. He questioned whether it would be a waste of money and time to try to collect past due debts from individuals who have passed away.
Mayor Tom Cole said there would be no additional cost to the city, adding there are instances where money may be available in estates for the payment of past due bills.
City code enforcement officer Lori Mills said the 2014 season of the Ridge Runner was very successful. Although she works as the chief code enforcement officer, Mills also oversees the Ridge Runner operations at Lotito Park as a volunteer.
Mills said the Ridge Runner had 13,289 riders this year which was an increase of 338 riders from 2013.
“Since restoring the train and getting her back in operation in 2001, the Ridge Runner has brought smiles to over 55,000 faces and continues to be a big part of Bluefield’s history,” Mills said.
In other discussion, Rideout said more than 80 individuals have submitted information to the city from the new “Fix It Bluefield” app, and more than 45 of those requests have been addressed. He said there was a learning curve for both the city and those who are using the new app. For example, Rideout said several citizens have submitted information about street lights that are out of service however, those lights are owned by Appalachian Power. As a result, the city can’t immediately correct them but, the city can hold Appalachian Power accountable for getting the lights fixed thanks to the information submitted by citizens through the app.
In other business, Rideout said a $5.9 million contract has been awarded to Triton Corporation of West Virginia for the replacement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. Rideout said the completion date for the project is Oct. 1, 2015. Current plans call for the bridge to be closed on June 5, 2015, and reopened to traffic in August of 2015.
“The term they are using is an accelerated bridge construction, meaning the hardest part will actually be the removal of the old bridge” Rideout said. “There is a very short window here where they will put the bridge in.”
Rideout said planning is now underway to ensure that essential services, including police, fire and rescue, are readily available to residents living in the impacted area during the bridge construction period.
In other business, Rideout said planning is continuing on the proposed Four Seasons Recovery Center, which is tentatively set to open on April 1 at the old Preston Street School. Rideout said the program will start with 20 men at first. The Four Seasons Recovery Center is a non-clinical program that doesn’t provide pharmaceutical intervention. It instead utilizes a peer driven model where you have other peers in recovery who share the same vision. Rideout said the program has an 80 percent success rate of helping men overcome addiction and stay clean.
In other action, Art Riley, head of the Downtown Merchants Association, said the Bluefield Christmas Parade will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bluefield Preservation Society also will be hosting the Blue Holly Days Saturday. The event will feature an ice skating rink in the basement of the old Granada Theater.
“We’ve got over 65 units in our Christmas parade,” Riley said. “We’ve got two bands, and over 200 participants so far listed in the parade. We are still taking applications and will take walk ins. We feel like we will have a good parade this year. Our city manager has assured me that we will have good weather, and we will hold him to it. I invite everyone to the parade this Saturday.”
Al Hancock, a local veterans advocate, also addressed the board. Hancock said recent improvements in the city are welcomed.
“Some of the things taking place in Bluefield needed to be done and are being done,” Hancock said.
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