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Nitro to join online municipal-fee payment program

By Marta Ree Tankersley

NITRO, W.Va. -- Nitro officials believe paying municipal fees in the city will become more convenient because of their approval at a City Council meeting Tuesday of a resolution that authorizes the city to participate in the West Virginia Treasurer's Office electronic commerce program.

This program allows residents to pay fees through the Internet by going to a city's website, which is linked to the secretary of state's e-government site, Nitro City Recorder Rita Cox said.

A fee of $1.50 will be charged for each transaction, City Treasurer John Young said.

"That cost will be passed on to the consumer," Young said. "For some people, it's worth the convenience."

In other news, the ordinance establishing a new fee schedule for city maintenance of private property passed its second reading. Property owners will be charged $100 per hour for each city employee who participates on any work crew and $200 for each piece of equipment implemented in clean-up efforts.

"Usually, the same people are guilty of not keeping up their property," Cox said. "This ordinance will act as a deterrent to that behavior."

"It's working," Mayor Dave Casebolt said. "It's a slow process, but this gives us more teeth."

The second reading of the ordinance to finance the design of $8.3 million in sanitation improvements and emergency repairs of the existing public sewer facilities passed unanimously. The design costs is not exceed $1.09 million.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled during the next council meeting, at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the council chambers.

Another public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' conceptual plans to reclaim swampland in the 700 block of DuPont Avenue. That public meeting will be held at the site.

"We are hoping we can create useable land for a park and walking trials," Cox said.

The cost of the reclamation should be covered by a grant, Casebolt said.

The city opened bids for the purchase of a new or used wood chipper so it can clean up downed trees more efficiently and stockpile mulch for use throughout the city.

"We will be saving time, saving the landfill expense, cutting down on damage to trucks and have mulch to give away," Casebolt said.

The estimated cost of a new wood chipper is $38,000, but "it's a good investment," Councilman Andy Shamblin said.

In other news:

• Fire Chief Jeff Elkins accepted a $10,000 donation from Tom Dover and Victor McCormick of Bayer Corp. on Aug. 27. The money will be used for training and equipment.

"Bayer also donated $10,000 to the city of St. Albans," Cox said. "Although it's something they have done in the past, they had not for a year or two, so this donation was much bigger than we had expected."

• Council members approved a Nitro Historical Commission proposal to design and install banners on Bank Street lampposts.

The banners will feature historical facts about the city, season's greetings messages, and also will advertise upcoming events, said NHC President Rich Hively, who was recognized by the city for his volunteer work.

• Council members voted to reimburse the West Virginia National Guard about $2,230 for a 30-foot by 60-foot American flag the city borrowed that had been soiled with grease during a storm more than two years ago.

When it was cleaned, the red faded into the white, rendering it useless, Cox said.

"The flag was on loan to the city," Casebolt said, "and the honorable thing to do is to pay to replace it."


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