City Moves Trick-or-Treating Back to October 31
Last night’s meeting of the Morgantown City Council dealt with rescheduling Halloween, a conflict over a modular home permit, recycling, and a statement by the mayor about unspecified allegations against city residents.
Morgantown Police Chief Billy Phelps reported that he had received “tons of calls” on the city scheduling Halloween trick or treating for Saturday, October 29. Phelps said the MPD would essentially be patrolling two nights for Halloween since many would continue to celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31 and strongly suggested the City Council reverse its decision. Council member Edra Dean Hampton said she had received negative comments from people about the Saturday date, and Council member Gary Southerland pointed out there was a state band competition that day. By a unanimous vote, the Council voted to change its Halloween observance back to Monday, October 31 with a 7:00 p.m. curfew.
Gilbert Hack addressed the Council regarding a permit he sought from the Planning and Zoning Board for a modular home. Aubrey West, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board, told the Council that Hack was denied the permit 1&1/2 years ago because a modular home could not be permitted in an industrial lot, and most recently the Board extended residential zoning down Chickasaw Drive to Hack’s property “so he may sell the property” according to West. From there, the meeting got contentious between West, Hack, Mayor Linda Keown, and Council members Russell Givens and Terrell House. Hack wanted action by the Council, but Givens repeated several times that the Planning and Zoning Board must present a proposal in writing to the City Council, and all parties must agree to all parts and restrictions. West insisted that the Planning and Zoning Board had acted and the Council could accept or reject the Board’s action. Hack said that nobody had authority to restrict private property and suggested at one point the city may owe him $15,000 over the dispute. After more contentious debate, Chief Phelps suggested to the Mayor they move on, and Keown and the Council suggested a written proposal on the matter at the November meeting by the Planning and Zoning Board.
Anita Minton, nurse for the school system, addressed the Council regarding recycling. Minton said that recycling needs to be made convenient or people won’t do it. She said they use a recycling bin in Hadley; bins have five compartments for different materials like plastic and glass. The issues Minton and the Council saw with obtaining a bin for Morgantown is where to locate the bin in a central location that is well lit and where the property owner would consent to a recycling bin.
Richie Bratcher of Cancer Assistance Inc. told the Council that the Fiscal Court had given his organization $4,000 for a trailer to serve food from and raise funds for the organization. Since the Council had promised to give a matching amount contingent on the Fiscal Court, the Council voted to donate the funds. However, Givens cautioned that in the future all organizations need to prepare proposals ahead of the city’s spring budget process, and Hampton said she had gotten feedback from citizens concerned about city government donating money to organizations.
Mayor Keown read a non-specific statement that the city “cannot confirm or deny” allegations involving residents of Morgantown. She stated the city will take several precautions for public safety and that she had discussed this issue with Chief Phelps. No details were offered.
House said that work on the G. L. Smith Street sidewalks would begin next Tuesday and the concrete work on the section from Cash Express to Garrison’s would come in under $20,000, a fraction of what was once expected. The Council and Mayor went over amendments to the project contract and approved the changes. The city will seek bids on the handrails.
In other business, a meeting on golf cart permitting will be held Tuesday, October 18 involving Council members and Chief Phelps. Morgantown VFD Chief Tim Hampton told the Council that Morgantown’s fire rating improved from a 6 to a 5, the first time it had been that low; he also talked about the importance of checking smoke detectors and urged the community to call the VFD first even when attempting to self-extinguish a fire. Upcoming community events next weekend include Harvest on the Square on Oct. 22 and the Butler County Antique Engine and Tractor Show Oct. 21-22.
Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News