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Council approves transfer of fire station ownership

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- City Council on Thursday passed final reading of an ordinance that will give the Fire Department's Central Fire Station to the Municipal Building Commission.

Once the commission passes final reading of a similar ordinance, renovations to the nearly 75-year-old structure can begin. The commission is expected to consider the ordinance at 2 p.m. Sept. 30.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program has approved a $200,000 loan for the renovations.

City Council cannot borrow money for longer than a single fiscal year.

To get the money, the city will give the building and property to the commission, which will in turn lease it back to the city on a year-to-year basis. Payments will essentially be the same as the loan payments, said commission attorney Walter Williams.

For more than a year, city and fire department officials have discussed the much-needed repairs.

The station house was originally completed in 1928. The building is structurally sound but needs major interior and exterior renovations and upgrades, said Fire Chief Joe Gonzalez.

One of the major plans is to lower the floor to create a permanent wash basin for the aerial truck, Gonzalez said. This will be the first time any significant amount of money has been spent on the facility since it was built, Gonzalez said.

In other business, Council:

-- Approved the financial statement reports for the police and fire pension funds for the 2001-02 fiscal year. Both funds lost money last year, mostly because of losses in the stock market, Finance Director Frank Ferrari said.

-- Approved the city's semi-annual fall cleanup for Sept. 30-Oct. 25.

-- Approved the purchase of one fully equipped new police cruiser under state contract to replace two cruisers totaled in recent accident. The cost of the cruiser is not to exceed $27,000

-- Authorized City Manager Tom Vidovich to execute a letter of agreement with the West Virginia Housing Development Fund for the city to participate in a new employer assisted home loan program.

-- Passed final reading of an ordinance setting Water Board members' pay at $100 per meeting, with a cap of $2,500 per year. The ordinance does not raise the pay, but clarifies how pay issues are to be addressed.

-- Heard from several expressing concern about the city's skate park and skateboarders in general.

-- Along with Police Chief John Walker, presented an award to Chestnut Street Go-Mart employees Guy Carpenter, Carol Sutton and Nancy Higginbotham for the store's efforts to curb underage sales of alcohol.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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