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Nitro mayor outlines efforts to clean up city

By Bridget May

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt outlined several efforts city officials have undertaken to clean up the city at Tuesday's regular meeting.

The mayor said he wants the public to know that "council, public works, the fire department, the police department, everybody is working to try to clean this town up; it is a major task."

The city formed the Property Maintenance Board, comprised of the city's department heads, to identify properties that need to be addressed, and has "aggressively" targeted properties that require maintenance improvements, he said.

The board has developed a new procedure to condemn houses that violate maintenance codes. Instead of condemning a property outright, the city is taking the initiative by doing any work that it can. This work includes removing trees and cutting grass.

Once the work is complete, the city then sends a bill to the property owners for any improvements that were made. If money cannot be recovered, then the city's next step is to condemn the house and eventually tear it down.

Casebolt said that Ronnie King, city building inspector and fire marshal, has delivered more than 200 property maintenance violations, and the fire department is working on a procedure to follow up on those violations to ensure compliance.

Clean-up efforts are not limited to property maintenance, however. Police Chief Brian Oxley has issued about 100 towing violations.

Oxley said those notices are issued for vehicles that do not have a valid registration and for vehicles that are inoperable.

Last year, council members passed an ordinance prohibiting residents from putting trash out more than one day in advance. Casebolt said that ordinance is having the desired effect.

"There was an immediate impact from that." Casebolt said. "You don't see trash sitting out even close to as much as you used to.

Even with all those efforts, Casebolt said the city still has one problem but that officials are working to address it. The problem is littering.

He has instructed Oxley to make littering citations a top priority.

Casebolt also announced the city was awarded a $300,000 state grant for its streetscape program. The project will cover of 21st Street, Bank Street and 2nd Avenue. The city has to pay $75,000 as part of the grant, totaling $375,000 in improvements.

Casebolt plans to call a streetscape meeting within the next week to discuss the project.

In other business, Casebolt introduced Jeff Elkins as the city's new fire chief.

After the meeting, Nitro City Council performed its first wedding ceremony.

Councilman Andy Shamblin, who is also an ordained minister, performed a wedding ceremony for fellow Councilman Craig Matthews and his fiancée, Jennifer Hillenbrand. All council members were in attendance to show their support.




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