Williamstown officials ponder new elementary school

WILLIAMSTOWN – City council and officials were asked Tuesday for suggestions as to where they believe a new elementary school should be located.

Chip Pickering with the Williamstown Elementary New School Steering Committee asked for recommendations on locations for the school.

“We’re just looking right now in the community for sites that would be possible locations for a new elementary school and would like the council and officials to give as much input as possible,” Pickering said. “People have already given us several options to consider, but the state has requirements that the land needs to meet.”

One of those requirements of land size of six to eight acres to accommodate the district’s future growth may be difficult to find in the city.

“We are looking for community connectivity and a location that will allow the children to get to and from school safely,” Pickering said.

The committee hopes to identify potential sites and look at them through May with plans to recommend a site or sites to the Wood County Board of Education by the end of August.

“This is all in keeping with the two-to-four year project in completing this dream,” Pickering said. “We’re just part of a committee trying to do the best thing for the community.”

Councilman Marty Seufer said the one thing he believes needs to be taken into consideration for the new elementary school’s location is the accessibility for kids to be able to walk or ride their bicycles to school if they would like.

“To put a school outside of the community where kids can’t walk to school and if something is going on in the evening, everyone has to be bused in is not something we are looking for,” said Pickering.

Mayor Jean Ford said she thinks the community will be supportive and receptive to helping the committee find a location, as it is well known how needed a new school is.

“I think we will do whatever we can to help,” she said.

In other business:

* Longtime Williamstown resident Glenn Kimble was named the Pride of Williamstown for his volunteer work within the city helping Boy Scouts, community organizations, Little League sports and “endless other volunteer acts too numerous to mention,” said Ford.

“Glenn Kimble, this is your night,” Ford said. “There are more than three pages of typed notes listing your contributions to the community and when we say ‘thank you, Glenn,’ we mean it.”

Kimble is the fifth person to receive the Pride of Williamstown award designed to give recognition to those who have put in work beyond the call of duty to the community.

Others are Carnick Hamperian, former Williamstown Fire Chief Joe Ruf, Bernard Mullinix and Councilman Gene Duncan.

“I was glad to do it,” Kimble said.

* Council unanimously approved the sidewalk plan recommended by KCI Technologies, the engineering firm the city hired to design sidewalks being built through grant funds.

“The grant’s purpose is to prepare the town for handicap accessibility and that is why these areas were chosen,” said Councilwoman Barbara Lewis.

Work will begin with the repair of sidewalks on Park Avenue, then down Front Street, Fifth Street and Henderson Avenue.

“We’re putting in sidewalks where they are needed; we will not be tearing up perfectly good sidewalks,” Lewis said. “We don’t know how far our money will go, but we will take it as far as we can.”

Seufer reminded meeting attendees this is the first of two sidewalk projects with the locations of the second unknown.

“This second one will allow us to do more for the people but sidewalks are very expensive and we are working on as many as we can to help as many people as possible,” said Lewis.

This project will include signage and Americans with Disabilities approved access ramps at intersections and will be at least four-feet wide for wheelchairs to easily and comfortably use them. It will cost about $250,000.

These funds are from grants and other donations and includes the city’s roughly $50,000 match. Lewis said the city’s match can be in-kind services and work.

* Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will have a representative at the Williamstown City Building on W. Fifth Street from 11 a.m. to noon May 21 to hear concerns of the community. Everyone is invited.