For Coal Valley News

MADISON - The regular session of the Madison City Council on July 8 was well-attended by concerned citizens, many of whom are residents of Holly Hills.

Frequent summer storms have caused significant water issues for multiple homes in the area, but a drainage problem has made keeping water out of homes a recurring problem for Holly Hills, according to residents.

Diana Mayhorn, speaking on behalf of the neighborhood, provided photos for the council.

"I had probably 6 to 8 inches of water under my house," Mayhorn said of the most recent rainstorm to roll through Madison. She detailed that each heavy rain sends water from Cedar Lane, past her home, and into the garages of her neighbors. The ordeal is not a new one, either, as people from Holly Hills say they have dealt with flooding for years.

The council agreed to try to find the source of the drainage problems and have it fixed.

The next order of business was brought up by James Kelsh, an attorney with Bowles Rice LLP, who spoke on behalf of Dain Bender and Boone County Transfer regarding the reopening of the county's waste transfer stations, slated for 2020. Kelsh said the transfer stations allow the county's workforce to be centralized without the need to repeatedly run back and forth from Charleston. Kelsh said the reopening would be a three-step process, and the Boone County Commission approved the movement as it would be consistent with its Boone County Solid Waste Plan for better waste disposal in the county. Bender added that Waste Management has given them support as well, promising to make use of the station.

Bender requested a resolution from the council that would have the Rock Creek station be used by the city upon reopening. The council gave wholehearted support and lauded Bender's 18-month commitment to the project, but made clear their fiscal concerns in light of the city's tight budget. Bender said he understood their caution, saying he wants them to be sure they want to commit to the resolution. He did add that the resolution would mean less wear and tear on trucks and that waste management employees could be available for other services instead of being on the road back and forth between Charleston. The council asked to be sent a written resolution for their consideration.

Next to speak was Michelle Wheatley of the Children's Home Society, who made the case for a foster care forum for the sake of community building and resilience.

"We know that the foster care crisis does not exist in a vacuum," Wheatley said. "It exists alongside and after the opioid crisis, and all the factors like the economy, social, jobs, and education."

The foster care forum would allow caretakers of foster children to find support and aid in prevention efforts. West Virginia ranks first in children living in some form of foster care, which Wheatley cites as a good incentive to support a proposed event for foster families in the area. The event would take place early in the school year, when children are in school. Children under school age would be given crafts to work on separate from the main forum, where caretakers could discuss and learn about relevant topics facing foster care today. The daytime forum would take place on a Thursday or Friday, on Aug. 15 or 16, at a venue to be determined. The council, which has worked with the CHS previously, agreed to the event.

Sara Duran of West Madison expressed grievance at a grating in a blocked alleyway near her 2nd Street residence not being fixed.

"It's been almost a year to the day I asked [Chet] Burgess what could be done," Duran said. She is not the only resident who makes use of the alleyway, as other vehicles such as ATVs use it to get in and out. The grating is not strong enough to support the vehicles that drive over it, Duran said, and she wanted the council to make a resolution for a permanent fix. Burgess stated that he plans to look into it.

Also during the regular session:

- Councilwoman Kathy Cash brought forward new rental agreements for the Madison Civic Center, which were examined by the rest of the council. Buddy Hudson approved the draft, but suggested adding a section regarding whether a renting party has their own insurance. Other edits included a reasonable time frame for cancellation and refund, such as 72 hours, and agreements on kitchen cleanups and damages.

- The Coal Festival committee gave their thanks to the council for their support.

- Teena Merlin of Gypsy Sisters Tattoo requested 10 tables for Art Walk, receiving approval from the council.

- Forest Dolin from the DIG IN organization requested for the council to be responsible for a HUB grant set to be used by DIG IN, which they agreed to.

- Chief Chet Burgess said that the station will be posting more officers in order to keep up with an increase in calls, and requested that a decision be made on a welcome sign for the town. The council named candidates for the sign's location to be considered.

The next city council meeting will take place on Aug. 5.