By Hannah Heishman
Moorefield Councilman Doug Mongold asked Police Chief Steve Reckart about the local drug epidemic. In the past several days there were multiple 911 calls for unresponsive people which turned out to be drug related. One resulted in death.
“Our officers make drug arrests almost nightly,” Moorefield Police Chief Reckart replied. “Since we’re effectively combating the issues in town, the drug sales occur more frequently out of town.”
Councilman Roger Pratt asked if people involved in the drug trade are going to jail. Reckart said it depended on the schedule of drugs and the amount of drugs officers find.
Related, Reckart said, is the lack of evidence storage the police department is experiencing.
Pratt asked if the empty trailers in Misty Terrace have been used for the drug trade.
Reckart said a complaint must be filed through the town Code Enforcement Committee. The committee can decide the disposition of the trailers.
Reckart said if the trailers have been used to manufacture methamphetamine, it could cost as much as $10,000 to be professionally cleaned. That cost is the responsibility of the owner.
[private] Reckart requested permission to purchase a new police cruiser. “I’m really in dire need of a cruiser,” he said.
He located a 2016 Dodge Charger already outfitted as a police vehicle. It costs $23,000.
The council approved the purchase.
Public Works Director Lucas Gagnon began his report by summarizing a February 22nd meeting with FEMA representatives regarding Moorefield’s levee.
Gagnon explained that a section of the north levee is too low, which will prevent FEMA from certifying it and classifying the entire town as protected behind a levee, or Zone X.
Moorefield has two levees, divided into north and south. They are determined by the South Fork river, where it runs through Moorefield, and are identified most easily at the bridge on Main Street immediately south of Pilgrims.
The section that is too low begins at the old wastewater ponds, just north of the Evans Motel, and runs to the far side of the Corridor H overpass.
The levee is always high enough that a 100-year flood should not overtop it. However, the required freeboard — a safety factor that is the height above that basic flooding level — is too low. FEMA requires three feet of freeboard over that required level; in some places, the north levee is only one foot over.
FEMA’s certification affects flood insurance requirements. The part of Moorefield behind the north levee will either be certified Zone A/E or Zone D. Zone A/E indicates no protection from a levee, and the federal government requires flood insurance.
Zone D acknowledges the levee is there, but the level of protection is uncertain. The federal government would not require flood insurance, but banks and mortgage companies likely would.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, supervised construction of, and initially certified both levees.
Exactly why the levee is too low is unclear. It is possible that changes to the river and float patterns behind the north levee may have changed, affecting elevations enough to make heights acceptable 20 years ago, but too low, now
Gagnon explained that, right now, the entire town is Zone X. The changes would occur in maps and documentation FEMA is creating, but which likely won’t exist for another 12-18 months.
The FEMA representatives at the meeting expressed a willingness to work with Moorefield on the certifications and zoning, as long as Moorefield progressively moves forward on getting the levee adjusted.
Gagnon mentioned that Chris Strovel, from U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s office, requested a letter outlining what Moorefield needs, and where it is in the process to fix the levee.
Gagnon listed three options for improving the north levee: build it up; steel sheet piling; and a concrete wall. Each has advantages and disadvantages, including price and appearance. The Corps of Engineers will do an estimate on the 1000-foot section of the north levee, and make recommendations.
Gagnon said FEMA is definitely willing to help, but, “We have to show we’re moving forward.”
The Corps of Engineers is due to conduct a 5-year inspection on the levee at the end of March.
Park Manager Juwana Bridger began her Town Park report by requesting the Council hire a pool manager at $10 per hour. Position responsibilities would include ordering chemicals, ordering food, and managing the pool employee schedule.
The council approved the request.
The pool will be open from 12:00 pm to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 – 4 p.m. on Sundays. Bridger is getting information from the schools before setting an opening date.
The power company donated assistance to change burnt-out lightbulbs in field and court lights. American Legion Post 64 and VFW Post 9606 donated new flags, which are hung at the park entrance.
Bridger said work needs to be done on the Rocket Slide. The interior of the slide is full of rust and sharp points. It was decided Bridger should close the Rocket Slide pending repairs. It will be blocked at the bottom of the stairs, and the top and bottom of the slide, and she will post signs.
Town Clerk Rick Freeman asked the Council to consider establishing a rainy day fund, which can have up to 30 per cent of the amount in the general fund. If established, a rainy day fund would have the same use restrictions as the general fund, but would make budgeting easier and wouldn’t require every dollar to be earmarked.
Freeman also asked the Council if they wanted him to budget for an additional police officer, or for a part-time position that would assist the city court clerk and police secretary.
Mayor Gary Stalnaker supported the idea of another police officer, due to the community’s issues and police department’s existing work.
Freeman will budget for another entry-level police officer, and will be able to provide information both with and without a new officer added.
The Council agreed to meet Thursday, March 16, at 4:00 pm to specifically discuss the budget initially. The meeting is expected to be brief.
Freeman encourages the public to visit the Town’s website, www.townofMoorefield.com. There is a link on the page to the Utility Payment Portal, where citizens can pay their utility bills online.
If citizens use a credit or debit card through the portal, they are charged a processing fee of either $3.25 or 3 per cent of the payment amount, depending which is greater. This fee does not go to the Town or to the power company, but to a third party for processing the card payment.
The next regular meeting will be March 21 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall. The public is invited to attend. [/private]