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South Charleston reimbursed $217,000 for derecho cleanup

By Amelia A. Pridemore

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of South Charleston has received $217,000 -- and will receive more than $100,000 on top of that -- for its cleanup of the June 29 derecho that ripped through the state.

The city received the first round of money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this week, Mayor Frank Mullens said after Thursday night's council meeting.

He credited Public Works Director Gerald Burgy for getting the funds. Burgy was not present at Thursday's meeting.

"This is well over $300,000," Mullens said. "(The process for reimbursement) is very meticulous. Everything has to be just perfect."

South Charleston incurred power outages, downed trees and personal property damage, Mullens said. While the private property damage was a separate issue, the city was reimbursed for repairs on public property. The eastern part of the city seemed to be hit the hardest.

"We had a tremendous amount of trees down," he said. "We worked around the clock, 24/7, to get back to normal, starting as soon as the storm was over. We had all but two roads open within 24 hours, and those two (were delayed because they) had live wires on them. We worked with the power company to get them cleared."

The storm cleanup, altogether, took several weeks, Mullens said. Businesses such as Walmart and Target were closed for a few days, but he does not believe the storm caused any significant blow to the amount of business and occupation taxes collected.

In other business:

* Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance that would annex properties off W.Va. 219, past Southridge shopping center and near Ruthlawn Elementary School.

Mullens said residents of a condominium complex requested the annexation. It would also include two churches and the elementary school.

The ordinance is set for a public hearing and for possible passage Dec. 20.

* Fire Chief John Taylor said the fire department has corrected deficiencies found in a state fire marshal's audit. The audit, conducted early this year, showed the department had equipment, training and testing deficiencies.

* Police Chief Brad Rinehart announced the department's "Shop with a Cop" program would be able to help more children this year than in previous ones, thanks to $3,000 in donations from businesses, government, and organizations. This year, he estimated, about 20 children would be able to participate.

That number is up from its first year, when 12 participated. Target, the event's host, donated $1,000. The Fraternal Order of Police and its' civilian counterpart, FOP-A, each donated $500. The city and the local United Steelworkers union each donated $500.


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