Beckley Council Celebrates Achievements, Passes Ordinance

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Nov 10 — An international travel magazine named West Virginia one of the best places to travel in 2022 and featured Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine as one of the top tourist spots in its publications.

Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold congratulated Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Baker, who oversees the Exhibition Mine, and her team at Beckley’s regular city council meeting on Tuesday.

“It’s all over the world,” Rappold said. “It was quite an honor.”

West Virginia was ranked behind Iceland, which took first place.

Lonely Planet, a leading Australian publisher of travel guides, announced top travel destinations in late October.

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is a museum located within the New River Park complex that educates local residents and tourists alike about the history of coal mining in southern West Virginia.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council took action to regulate self-storage units in the city by passing an ordinance that requires self-storage units to require conditional use permits in the city. B-1 and B-2 as permitted use in industrial zones, while indoor self-storage units will now function as permitted use in zones B-1 and B-2 and as permitted use in a manufacturing district.

Before adopting the ordinance, the council voted to amend it to remove “storage container” from the ordinance. At a council workshop last week, Ward 3 Councilor Robert Dunlap and others said Lowe’s and other stores were using storage units outside in parking lots.

City attorney Bill File removed the “storage container” from the order to address these concerns.

In other actions:

—The board approved an offer from JH Building for $ 46,500 to repair the roof of the visitor center. At-Large City Councilor Cody Reedy said the city received an offer from only one company and that the offer approved on Tuesday was the company’s second offer and about $ 20,000 less than the offer JH had presented the first time.

– Chief Code Enforcement Captain Donny Morgan read a notice of application from P&P Inc, doing business as Cheers of Beckley, for the intention of applying for a private club operating license in the former PUBlicity lounge at 327 Neville St. Cheers is currently in the former The Zen building, which the city purchased from bar owner Jenny Weng earlier this year.

—The board reappointed Eddiena Schoolfield, Gary Sutphin and Kip Buchanan to serve another five years on the board of directors of the Beckley Housing Authority.

—Public Works Council Director Jerry Stump has said the annual leaf collection will begin Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 a.m. City crews will collect leaves and brush the sidewalk for transportation. The brush should be two inches or less in diameter.

—Rappold declared Thanksgiving week to be “Christian Heritage Week,” in accordance with the wishes of a group that began work in 1992 and have worked under every governor since Gaston Caperton. He invited everyone in town to join in, “each in their own way”. He said local churches are encouraged to participate with patriotic songs, youth programs, small groups and prayer meetings. There are 139 participating cities.

–The mayor noted that, for the first time in history, all four of Raleigh County’s high schools – Woodrow Wilson, Shady Spring, Independence and Liberty – have football teams on their way to the playoffs.

—Rappold congratulated Beckley Fire Department firefighters Derrik Bandy, Jeremy Fox, Seth Adams, Joshua Barber and Josh Stacy on completing a year with BPD and officially becoming a firefighter.

– Responding to a question from Ward 5 City Councilor Janine Bullock, Rappold said city workers are still painting the old Zen building to prepare it for Fruits of Labor, which is expected to rent the building. City Treasurer Billie Trump spoke with Fruits of Labor director Tammy Jordan last week, who said the organization is still in the process of establishing its location in Montgomery. Last week, a film crew came by Zen’s and will be making a feature film to show to the Appalachian Regional Commission, Rappold said.

—The mayor has announced that the city will take action to widen the lanes at the end of Robert C. Byrd Drive on Prince Street to just two lanes. Beckley Police Department chief Lonnie Christian has made the suggestion, and File will prepare an ordinance to read next week, the mayor added.

—At-Large Councilor Sherrie Hunter encouraged the public to attend the Wonderland of Trees Auction at 6:00 pm November 19 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Events are open to the public before 6 p.m. The public will be able to see the trees on weekends by November 19, she said. She said the trees in Beckley Town and Black Knight Historic City Park, decorated by Jeremiah Johnson, were “just amazing.”

–Bullock reported that the Veterans Day parade was on Thursday at 11 a.m. in downtown Beckley.

—Reedy and IT Director Bill Kelly will meet to discuss advertising the city’s parking app on the website and educating the public on how to use the system more efficiently, with the goal of promote more widespread knowledge and use of the system.

—Dunlap made a video of the street condition on Stifler Street, a darker street within the city limits, to share with Council. At a previous council workshop, city officials noted that the developer made a mistake when designing and fitting out Stifler. Locals have asked the city for help with the serious pothole issues and some water drainage issues on their street. Trump told Dunlap that since that meeting he has checked with the State Ethics Commission to see the rules for spending city funds. Spending of public funds must be investigated and carried out with care, Trump said.

Prior to the meeting, Council observed a minute’s silence in honor of the state’s longest-serving Speaker of the House, Bob Kiss. Kiss, 64, a lawyer, lived in Beckley for many years and was respected statewide for his stewardship of public funds and long-standing public service. He died of cancer on Friday, according to his obituary published Sunday in The Register-Herald.


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