Wow, March already! Will it come in like a lamb and go out like a lion, or will it come in like a lion and go out like a lamb?
Lots of daffodils, crocus, forsythia, flowering quince, and tulip magnolias are blooming, and there are hints of green in the trees on the lower levels of the hills. Spring is just around the corner, and I hope you are enjoying the longer, sunny days. Daylight Savings time begins Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., so get ready to “spring forward.”
Our little city is still undergoing some transformations, but a least the Michigan and Kanawha sidewalk projects are almost done. Yes, there’s still some work left, but the asphalt companies shut down for the winter, so contractors are waiting on those to reopen.
When they do reopen, then the final touches to sidewalks and the edges of the streets will be completed.
We also plan to order new signposts and street signs and, when they arrive from the factory, there will be solar lights installed along three blocks of Michigan Avenue. “Old-fashioned”-looking light poles will be partnered with new technology. They aren’t designed to look like bright LED lights, but, rather, to help bring back some of the historic look of the city.
The existing streetlights will remain in place, so, the new lights will be additive, not replacement lights.
FEMA representatives have begun their flood damage assessment to city-owned properties, vehicles, and equipment to determine how much of the flood damage to city facilities, including sewer lines and streets, the city will get reimbursed for so we can (hopefully) begin repairing and replacing.
In addition, the city’s insurance company is assessing flood damages, and, while there is a $25,000 deductible in flood-related claims, there is over $300,000 in damages, so all the financial help the city can get will help.
After these determinations and payments by both FEMA and the city’s insurance company, then the city will be able (hopefully) to fix more of the damage.
Grant-funded Integrated Trails, Oakland Riverfront Park, Mammoth Welcome Center, and Gateway Center upgrades are in the design and engineering phases. We’ve spent four years getting the grants written and approved, and it may take another four years to finish all the construction, but we’ve started, and your support and patience are greatly appreciated.
Thanks to a donation by the Boone East Coal Company, the city now owns the “old ballfield” along Cannelton Hollow Road, and city leadership is very pleased to announce that a group of energized area residents (coaches, teachers, parents, and Fayette County Board of Education leadership) have expressed a strong interest in bringing the field back to use. Get involved and help bring this valuable field back to good condition for our area children.
City leaders continue to take legal exception to the proposed rate hike by the Falls View Public Service District, which treats our sewage. They just got a rate increase effective in November, and now they have asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission to grant them an additional — and huge — increase.
Because we know this newly requested rate increase will be difficult for residents to absorb in their household budgets, we will continue to oppose this rate increase and work to get it defeated or at least reduced. So far, we have gotten a stay on the newly requested increase, and we are continuing our efforts to make this decision permanent.
The demolitions of dilapidated, city-owned properties continues this month, leaving us with more green space and a healthier, safer, and more attractive community. All this work is grant supported through the state’s REAP program.
The Market renovations continue at a measured pace as we transform the old Cavalier Market/dance studio into a safe and useable commercial building so it can have another 100 years of utility for us all.
Looking to start a new business or know someone who is? Then let me hear from you. The location is ideal since it can be seen from U.S. 60/Midland Trail, and, thanks to grants both large and small, the building will be attractive and ideal for many different types of business opportunities.
The City of Smithers and the Smithers Volunteer Fire Department are once again unified and the city leadership is very pleased that Benny Filiaggi is the new Smithers fire chief and that we have a newly formed board of directors, as dictated by state law. Chief Benny not only brings years of firefighting experience, but he also brings years of successful fire department management to our service area.
The new Smithers Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors is comprised of Larry Bostic, chair; Rhea Cavalier, vice chair; and members Alma Bowles, Steve Giannini, and Gordon Mitchell. The SVFD Board of Directors meetings are public and occur each second Monday of the month, at 5 p.m., right before City Council.
The city would like to thank all the SVFD firefighters for their dedication and courage that keep us safe. We’d also like to extend our thanks to both the Montgomery and the Boomer volunteer fire departments for readily agreeing to come out when there are “tones” sounded in Smithers.
We’re very fortunate for all these events and changes as we move forward. Chief Benny now has responsibility for both Smithers and Montgomery, and he will guide us in our forward progress.
Important dates this month:
• Sunday, March 12: Daylight Savings Time begins, 2 a.m. Set your clocks forward before going to bed on Saturday.
• Monday, March 13: Smithers Fire Department Board of Directors meeting, Council Chambers, Gateway/City Hall, 5 p.m.
• Monday, March 13: Smithers City Council, Council Chambers, Gateway/City Hall, 6 p.m. Live and Zoom
• Tuesday, March 14: Smithers Sanitary Board, 4 p.m., Gateway Conference Room.
I know it’s asking a lot of Mother Nature, but I hope March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lamb. I don’t know about you, but I have spring fever and I don’t want any more winter weather.