Council rejects Homecoming funding shift

Additional money for fire station reduced, approved

Parkersburg Homecoming President Mike Cottrell answers questions during Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. Council voted 5-2 against reallocating $12,500 in city funds from the fireworks display to the powerboat races after one of the organizers said he was stepping down over concerns with how the event was being run. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The co-director of the planned powerboat races at the 2018 Parkersburg Homecoming announced his resignation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and council voted against a resolution to reallocate $12,500 to the event.

“With me not being part of it, I don’t see how they’re going to pull it off,” Jay Jones said during the public forum portion of the meeting in council chambers at the Municipal Building.

Following the meeting, Homecoming President Mike Cottrell said the races would “most definitely” happen, and the committee already had two candidates to take over for Jones.

Council also unanimously approved a resolution to accept a $1.5 million federal loan to demolish fire station 2 at 16th and Covert streets and build a replacement. They approved allocating an additional $50,000 for the project and adding $580,000 in carryover funds to this year’s paving project.

During the public forum, Jones said he was stepping down because of “misleading texts by the president of Homecoming, emails about what he’s got done and what he’s going to do, and I find those are not true.”

Jay Jones addresses Parkersburg City Council during the public forum portion of its meeting Tuesday. Jones said he was resigning from his position overseeing the planned powerboat races at Parkersburg Homecoming over concerns he had with event President Mike Cottrell. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Jones pointed to necessary paperwork for planned beer gardens, the revenue from which would support the races, as an example.

“Right now, to date … we’re $16,000 behind in paying the race promoter for this race,” he said. “The total race promoter’s cost is $30,000.”

Before council voted on a resolution to shift $12,500 in city funds from the fireworks show to the races, Cottrell said a portion of the $16,000 was past due, but he had discussed that with the promoter and informed him the city funds would not be available until after the start of the current fiscal year on July 1.

“He was fully aware of the situation with the money. He knew it was tight,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell said plans for the beer gardens are progressing. City Attorney Joe Santer said he expected legislation on them at council’s July 24 meeting.

Parkersburg City Councilman Zach Stanley asks a question about options for construction of a new fire station at 16th and Covert streets during Tuesday’s council meeting. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Jones said he would like to run the powerboat races as an independent event next year. Cottrell said Homecoming will run the races this year and in the future.

“It almost sounds like a competition, and I don’t want to get involved in spending tax dollars on a competition,” Council President John Reed said.

Ultimately, council voted 5-2, with Councilmen Eric Barber and Mike Reynolds absent, against the resolution to reallocate the funds. Councilmen J.R. Carpenter and Jeff Fox voted in favor of it.

After the meeting, Jones said he wants Homecoming to be successful, “but I had to get out of it, the way it’s being run.”

The resolution to allocate additional money from the projected carryover to the fire station project passed 7-0, following a unanimous amendment to reduce the amount from $150,000. That was proposed to cover potential change orders and alternate options for the project, for which bids came in just below $1.5 million.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce answers a question about alternate options for the construction of a new fire station at 16th and Covert streets during Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Councilman Zach Stanley asked whether any of the alternates beyond purchase and installation of a backup generator were truly necessary. They included decorative features, glass doors and epoxy on the concrete floors to decrease noise.

“I believe the only true necessity would be to provide emergency power,” Mayor Tom Joyce said, noting that is estimated to cost about $40,000. With a generator to power the entire station, it could serve as an emergency shelter or cooling station in the event of a widespread or prolonged power outage, he said.

Reed said he was concerned that change orders needed beyond the approximately $10,000 remaining would have to come to council and could slow the process down. However, he said he supported the change after Joyce indicated he was comfortable with the amount.

In other business, council unanimously approved a budget reallocation of $10,400 to fund a part-time executive assistant in the Fire Department. Fire Chief Jason Matthews previously said he could use a full-time assistant but a part-time position is what was requested and supported by the mayor.

Council voted 6-1, with Carpenter opposed, to waive the residency requirement for the city engineer, as allowed by the municipal charter. Newly appointed Engineer Adam Stout lives in Mineral Wells.

“Adam is a professional engineer. He has proven himself to be motivated, cooperative, innovative,” Joyce said.