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St. Albans officials hear of flooding troubles

By By Matthew Hill
For the Gazette

As heavy rain fell in St. Albans, several residents of a particularly flood-prone part of town asked for help from Mayor Dick Callaway and City Council members Tuesday evening.

Gary Hager, of Monmouth Street, said he had been dealing with stormwater issues for five years. According to Hager, he met with Callaway and other city officials in February.

“It’s now September. We almost lost a car. All I hear is talk, talk, talk,” Hager said.

“We have no action. It seems like you’re doing nothing. There’s at least six inches of water in the street. It smells like sewer out there. We have a lack of communication out there, and we’re all pretty [angry],” Hager said.

Callaway shot back, “If you’ll shut up, I’ll tell you.”

Callaway said a certain legal process has to be followed to correct the problems that plague Monmouth Street.

Before Hager’s remarks, the mayor offered to have Monmouth Street resident Jean Miller review and sign a temporary easement agreement that allows the city to enter her property and resolve what is thought to be causing issues for others downstream.

Miller, who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, said she would look it over and get back with Callaway.

“We had to go through the process. If we have permission to go on her property, we can go on her property to help her and help [Hager] with your problem. We had to do a study first,” Callaway explained.

Karen Kincaid, also of Monmouth Street, complained that the sewer drains had not been cleaned out.

“Health issues are very high. Flooding issues are high here. The water is all full of dirt and mud, and the street is full of mud, water and sand. It’s out of control and out of hand, sir. You’re going to have sinkholes open up. We want some help,” Kincaid declared.

“I’m not going to try to explain, because you don’t want to hear it anyway,” Callaway said.

Ward 1’s Robert Keiffer, Ward 4’s Cheryl Thomas and Councilman-at-Large John Boles were not present for Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Desper Lemon said Boles recently suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.

In other business:

n Council members unanimously enacted an ordinance clarifying that any registered and licensed vehicle in the city must carry insurance. Failure to maintain insurance coverage will result in the forfeiture of the license plate to the state Division of Motor Vehicles. A first offense carries a penalty of between $200 and $5,000. A second misdemeanor offense threatens the added proviso of 15 days to one year in jail.

n City Council approved allowing the mayor to sign for an Internal Revenue Service refund on behalf of the city Municipal Utility Commission. Michael Griffith, who serves as the city’s and the MUC’s accountant, explained that the city completes paperwork every six months to be awarded Build America bonds — federal money dispensed as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

He estimated that St. Albans will receive $146,340 this year, minus 8 or 9 percent due to sequestration. Griffith stated that he hopes St. Albans will be able to undergo a refinancing so that it won’t have to grapple with either the semi-annual application process or the sequestration cuts.

n City officials recognized Ned Arthur for his service of more than 19 years with the city Parks and Recreation Department.

“I personally want to thank you for your hard work and dedication. You’ve always been there and been appreciated by us. We’re going to deeply miss you,” Ward 8’s Kevin Pennington said.

n City Council unanimously resolved to support the $3 million Kanawha County Public Library levy appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot.

n The city will pay current invoices in the amount of $15,173.91.

n The city agreed to pay $2,533.54 to Tire Center LLC for rear tires on one of the fire department’s vehicles.

St. Albans City Council will meet again at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.

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