ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- The National Resources Conservation Service has informed St. Albans that it cannot help the city eliminate the causes of flooding that occurred in some neighborhoods in July.
The agency said the Emergency Watershed Protection Program it administers aids with the removal of watershed impairments caused by flooding or other natural events that have been declared to be a disaster. But to be eligible for assistance, "the impairment must have occurred from a single natural event and must pose an imminent danger to life or improved property," Julie Stutler, district conservationist, wrote in an Oct. 23 letter to Mayor Dick Callaway.
An Aug. 28 site review determined that the July flooding didn't meet the eligibility requirements.
"Communities located in floodplain areas along and on top of streams are, unfortunately, vulnerable to damages resulting from sudden, intense rainfall," Stutler wrote.
"There are periodic opportunities for floodplain buyouts and relocations offered by federal and state agencies," she wrote. "Property owners may want to consider participating in a floodplain buyout or relocation opportunity should funding become available. I regret that our agency cannot provide further assistance.
"It is evident that there are local drainage issues related to, and exacerbated by, channel alterations," Stutler added. "There are multiple points along this stream that are channelized and/or have excessive sedimentation. These issues can best be addressed at the local level by working with the Kanawha County Floodplain Coordinator and the WV Department of Highways."
Callaway read highlights of the letter at Monday evening's council meeting.
Also at the meeting, council agreed to send a recommendation from the Finance Committee to the Ordinance Committee that would set up a deferred retirement option plan for the city's firefighters.
The proposal would freeze the retirement pension amount of a firefighter when he or she retires. If they continue to work, the money that would have gone into their pension plan is held in escrow for one to six years, and then paid to the retiree from their pension fund in a lump sum.
Retirees would receive no interest on the funds paid after retiring. Instead, the interest would go into the retirement plan to bolster it.
Councilman John Boles Jr., who heads the Finance Committee, said, "This is a very important step for the city. We will be the first city in the state to adopt this plan, if approved."
The proposal will be presented to council again at its next meeting, Nov. 18. If approved then it will be effective on Jan. 1.
In other action, council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with the state Department of Transportation for the fifth phase of the city's streetscape project.
Callaway said prior to the meeting that the city is now in the process of gaining state approval of the environmental impact statement for the fourth phase of the project. It will involve moving the tall streetlights on Olde Main to the Loop and replacing the Olde Main lights with new lights that are a more appropriate height.
Also, federal Americans with Disabilities Act-approved sidewalks and ramps will be constructed on the lower part of Olde Main, between Second and Third streets; from Second Street to the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Kanawha Terrace; and on Kanawha Terrace.
"Phase five will continue to replace sidewalks along the length of Kanawha Terrace and on Park and Sixth avenues, and there will be additional street lights," Callaway said.
The phases will cost a total of about $600,000. Council approved a revision to the city's General Fund budget so the city can use labor and equipment as the 10 percent match it needs for the state grants that will fund the projects.
Also at the meeting, council agreed to pay current invoices, which total $34,785, and agreed to pay Heritage Truck of Cross Lanes $4,319 for repairs to a garbage truck.
During announcements, Calloway reminded everyone that the city will auction property at 852 Monmouth St. and 419 Washington St. at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Conference Room of the Municipal Utility Commission, off MacCorkle Avenue.
Councilwoman Loretta Griffith said Ward 6's Neighborhood Watch meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hansford Center and Ward 9 has been invited to attend. The door at the back of the building will be open.
Callaway thanked everyone involved in making the re-opening of the Dick Henderson Bridge a success and said 10 souvenir programs are available for purchase at City Hall for $5 each.
Prior to the meeting, Councilwoman Cheryl Thomas said the St. Albans Veterans of Foreign Wars will sponsor a Veterans Day parade Saturday. The parade lineup will begin at 9 a.m. at the St. Francis of Assisi Church. Organizations that would like to participate should report at the church at 9 a.m. The parade will step off at 11 a.m.
City offices will be closed Monday in observance of Veteran's Day.
Council's next meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 on the second floor of the city building at 51 Sixth Ave.