Little blue signs cause uproar at Marlinton council
Marlinton, W.Va. – Little blue directional signs continue to cause a big flap at the Marlinton town council. Division of Highway officials visited the town earlier this summer and told Mayor Joe Smith the signs were illegal. The state officials will be visiting again in early August to give the town advice on how to legally replace the blue directional signs. During its July 2 meeting, council debated what to do with the signs in the mean time.
Councilmember Loretta Malcomb says she thought the signs were coming down and Smith responds.
“I thought it was stated that they were going to come down,” Malcomb said.
“Undoubtedly, you have two people on council, that’s not here, that thinks opposite and you got a committee that felt like they was going to stay up until we could find out how to correct the problem, without taking them down,” Smith responded.
The mayor and councilmembers David Zorn and Norris Long support leaving the signs in place until the state officials return. Councilmember Louise Barnisky says she thinks the signs should come down and Marlinton bed and breakfast owner Nelson Hernandez responds.
“He absolutely said they are illegal and I don’t know why this town wants to do something that’s illegal, when we know it’s illegal,” said Barnisky.
“Because you’re trying to help the businesses off Main Street,” said Hernandez.
“I’ve got family that’s got businesses, Mr. Hernandez,” Barnisky said. “But I tell you – if they tell me something’s illegal, I don’t want her doing nothing that’s illegal. The signs were never approved by the council. Everybody just went up there and done their own thing. And that seems to be what’s happened to our town. People just do what they want to do and then go right on.”
Smith says the town never got anything in writing regarding the legality of the signs.
“They verbally told us that they was illegal, but they never showed us anything in black and white that they was illegal,” he said.
Hernandez urged council to leave the signs up until the state officials return.
“It isn’t going to hurt anything for the next few weeks to leave them alone, until the expert comes and says what we can do and what we can’t do,” he said. “Is it going to hurt anything?”
Town recorder Robin Mutscheller gives her opinion.
“If we know the town is doing something illegal, the town should act on it immediately,” she said. “My personal concern is the liability to the town,” she added.
Council took no action on the signs but Mutscheller said she would research applicable regulations.
During the mayor’s report, Smith informed council that he had hired two temporary workers to help with storm clean-up. The town will help residents haul branches to the street pick up debris for disposal.
The mayor also reported that Potesta engineer Dave Sharp had completed a preliminary engineering report for the next phase of storm water and sewage drainage improvements. The estimated project cost is $2.1 million and Sharp reported that forgivable loans should be available for the entire cost.
In other business, Marlinton council:
– donated $500 for the upcoming Harley Owners Group rally, parade and cookout in Marlinton on July 14. As many as 800 bikers on 500 motorcycles are expected for the event.
– renewed the State Police contract for town law enforcement for six months;
– donated dog tax proceeds of $508 to the Pocahontas County Humane Society;
– approved on first reading an updated store ordinance, which eliminates outdated blue law clauses;
– took no action on garbage rates.
The next regular Marlinton council meeting is scheduled for Monday August 6 at 7 p.m.