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Parkersburg City Council receives Memorial Bridge draft documents

Parkersburg City Clerk Connie Shaffer, right, hands copies of the draft request for proposals for the purchase of the Memorial Bridge to Councilman Jeff Fox during Tuesday’s council meeting at the Municipal Building. Council will reconvene as the Committee of the Whole at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, to consider the document. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — City Council will meet in special session next week to consider the next step in the proposed sale of the Memorial Bridge.

At the end of Tuesday’s regular Parkersburg City Council meeting, copies of a draft request for proposals and instructions to proposers for the purchase of the 65-year-old toll bridge were distributed to council members. They voted 7-0, with Councilmen Bob Mercer and Eric Barber absent, to resolve into the Committee of the Whole and recess until 5 p.m. Aug. 20.

The Committee of the Whole consists of all nine council members. Mayor Tom Joyce said he expects council to vote on approving the documents and appoint a representative to a committee that will evaluate the proposals at the upcoming meeting, which will be held in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.

In December, council voted to give notice to the West Virginia Division of Highways that it planned to pursue the divestiture of the bridge. Joyce has said there are no structural or safety concerns regarding the bridge, but that selling the span is a way to pursue its eventual replacement.

When the time comes, that is expected to have an eight- or nine-figure price tag. The city won’t be able to afford it, Joyce said, and he doubts the state will be interested in doing it, since the bridge is one of convenience, not necessity.

Jump Company USA members, from left, Izzy Barbarow, Abbie McElroy and Hannah Strcula perform a routine at Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. The girls were among the gold medalists for the team at July’s World Jump Rope Championships in Norway. Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce invited the team to the council meeting to celebrate their accomplishments. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Toward that end, the request for proposals and instructions will emphasize finding a buyer with a “demonstrated and willing ability and proven track record with regards to bridge recapitalization,” Joyce said.

“The whole key to this process is that we have a bridge in the future,” he said.

During Joyce’s message at the start of the meeting, he introduced members and coaches of Jump Company USA, a Parkersburg-based, volunteer-run, nonprofit jump rope program that participated in the American Jump Rope National Championships in June in Raleigh, N.C., and the World Jump Rope Championships in July in Norway. The jumpers earned 27 medals and three grand national titles at the American competitions and 23 medals and a grand world title at the international event.

“You have to work very long and very hard to do this, to be this good,” Coach Rochelle Boggs said.

The five members who earned gold medals at the world championship — Izzy Barbarow, Cece Fatta, Abbie McElroy, Hannah Strcula and Lily Wharton — performed a brief routine for council and the audience.

Jump Company USA members Lily Wharton, left, and Cece Fatta perform a routine at Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. The girls were among the gold medalists for the team at July’s World Jump Rope Championships in Norway. Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce invited the members to the council meeting to celebrate their accomplishments. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

During the meeting, council approved four resolutions on 7-0 votes.

The first authorized multiple budget revisions, most involving funds that had been encumbered for work that was not completed by June 30, the end of the previous fiscal year. The second authorized Joyce to submit a Justice Assistance Grant that would provide $26,939 for new equipment for the Parkersburg Police Department and $14,051 for the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.

The other two gave the go-ahead for revisions to the Community Development Block Grant budget to fund LED lighting enhancements for Quincy Park and the HOME budget for rehabilitation of a house in the 500 block of 13 1/2 Street.

Council also voted 7-0 to approve the final reading of an ordinance vacating a utility right of way on property off Camden Avenue where an apartment complex is planned.

Parkersburg Finance Director Eric Jiles answers a question about budget revisions during Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting. Council approved multiple revisions involving funds encumbered for specific projects in the previous fiscal year but not spent before it ended June 30. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Parkersburg City Councilman J.R. Carpenter, left, asks a question during Tuesday’s council meeting as Councilman John Reed listens. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

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