It’s time to fish or cut bait.
That’s the message that the Marion County Commission has for the City of Fairmont over a deal to trade the county’s 100 block of Adams Street for the city’s piece of Palatine Park.
The county wants to develop the riverfront using land it purchased from CSX in June. The county wants to use land that extends from the Bauer Building/Election Center to the site of the former Low Level Bridge and clear out space for walking trails, restrooms, fishing docks, boat docks and ramps, a splash park, picnic tables, parking, pavilions, a water garden and maybe even a gazebo for weddings.
It’s something that has been on the planning wish list of the city for more than a dozen years. What the city has lacked is major funding to even start such an endeavor or an anchor business that would keep the momentum of development going.
Even without an anchor business, the county can achieve great things with the plan it has released. With that $800,000 investment, there’s no doubt that weekly fishing tournaments could be held along the banks of the Mon River. And there is major money to be had from those kind of tournaments — from beds being filled in local hotels and motels to purchases being made in stores by out-of-town guests to seats being taken in local restaurants by hungry fishermen and their families.
So we’ll say it again. It’s time to fish or cut bait.
Why? The city has yet to even talk about the trade. There has been very little discussion at Fairmont City Council meetings, other than updates from Charlie Reese, the director of the Marion County Development Office. There hasn’t even been an executive session in the nearly two months since the county unveiled the plan to city council.
These types of discussions, as we all know, have to take place during official meetings. The city says it needs time to dot I’s and cross T’s. But if there has been no official discussion of the proposal, we say the nine elected members of city council seem to be dragging their feet on even discussing what the county has to offer, much less giving it serious consideration. They haven’t even asked for public comment to gauge what city residents want to see. After all, aren’t these elected members of council accountable to the people who put them there?
When council members have expressed concern over trading property, not once have they mentioned Fairmont residents. Yes, council serves as a steward of public funds and property, but we elect them to make the decisions based on what is best in the short-term and long-term for the city and its residents, not their legacy or ego.
Council has said it will discuss options at its Aug. 27 meeting behind closed doors. They are within their rights to do so, as consideration of the purchase, sale or trade of property is a matter that is exempt from open-meeting laws.
But on Aug. 27, we certainly hope that council comes out of that chamber with an answer. Yes or no, the county is going to move forward. Having a fully developed riverfront, including the city’s portion of Palatine Park, would be ideal and in the best interest of all residents of Marion County, including the nearly 20,000 who live in the City of Fairmont.
Few would say a developed riverfront is a bad thing. If that’s the case, does it matter who got the job done? Have egos gotten in the way? Are leaders more concerned with equity than what’s best for the residents of the city? This decision now rests in the votes of nine members of city council.
After two months, it’s time to make a decision. Your residents deserve one. Fish or cut bait.
It’s time to fish or cut bait.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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