Rapp: Vienna is cautiously optimistic

VIENNA – The foundation for 2014 was laid in 2013, according to the mayor of Vienna.

Mayor Randy Rapp said the city remains cautiously optimistic considering the uncertain economy.

But overall the city had a good year and it was an honor to be named the No. 4 city in West Virginia to raise a family in was, he said.

“Vienna continues to gain businesses and to grow as a community,” said Rapp. “We are looking forward to the future and the infrastructure projects that we have in the works,” he said.

Rapp also was appreciative of the cooperation among cities in the region.

“I am pleased that all of the cities in the area habitually work together and combine projects with each other,” said Rapp. “We all understand that when one of us benefits, we all benefit, which makes the joint encouragement between all of the area cities a wonderful thing.”

Vienna continued to work to controlling the area drug trade in conjunction with Parkersburg, Marietta and Belpre efforts, Rapp said.

“The drugs are everywhere, and one of our main concerns as an area,” he said. “But we will continue to work together to bring them under control,” he said.

The city of Vienna reviewed their year in department-by-department detail during its Dec. 20 city council meeting. Each of the department heads on the city council reported favorably about their progression during 2013 in the hour-and-forty-minute long meeting.

Bruce Rogers, Vienna councilman and liaison to the parks and recreation department, reported dramatic improvements to the green areas of Vienna.

A new walking path going from 34th to 38th streets was the pride of parks and recreation this year, Rogers said. Across the parks in the city, restrooms have been retrofitted, pavilions re-roofed, basketball courts resurfaced, the pool slide was replaced and playgrounds were upgraded to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, Rogers said.

At Jackson Park, a new press box was constructed for the football fields, and flagpoles improved for the reciting of the pledge before games, said Rogers.

The nearby Recreation Center’s parking lot was paved, Rogers said. This action is expected to reduce the flooding problems the building has been suffering.

The construction of the dog park was completed in 2013 and signs including the detailed rules were put in place, Rogers said.

The top floor of the senior center in Vienna was renovated in 2013, installing a kitchenette, a handicapped accessible bathroom, computers and televisions for seniors to make use of, Rogers said.

From the beautification and tree commission in Vienna came reports of multiple dangerous trees removed in 2013, said councilman Jim Miracle. This included removal of trees that were blocking right-of-ways for various residents, he said.

Tourism for 2013 was reported as strong for the city, Miracle said.

After the death of Fire Chief Danny Goodwin early in 2013, the department got back on its feet under the guidance of Chief Steve Scholl, said Councilman Roger Bibbee.

The department added a new vehicle to its fleet, which replaced two outdated vehicles, said Bibbee.

The addition of this technology-packed vehicle was declared “a huge asset to Vienna’s Fire and Rescue district,” Bibbee said.

A change in fire and emergency medical dispatch policy now sees the two units dispatched simultaneously for all accidents in Vienna’s jurisdiction, said Bibbee. This change has improved the quality of patient care dramatically over the year, he said.

The fire department’s data collection and reporting policies were also streamlined during 2013, resulting in reports that are available more quickly and easier to understand, Bibbee said.

The 36-year old all-glass doors of the fire department were replaced with modern, mostly-solid doors with glass windows, said Bibbee. Although the change was aesthetically unpopular among residents, it has dramatically reduced the heating costs of the building, he said.

“The old doors had lost all of their caulking and rattled when the wind blew,” said Bibbee. “There were gaps between windows large enough to throw your hat through, and it needed to be replaced,” he said.

The fire station kitchen, also 36 years old, was also renovated in 2013, and one Boy Scout painted the interior of the fire station as his Eagle Scout project as well, said Bibbee.

The department also responded to 355 calls as of Dec. 20, and, including the time worked by the fire chief, 5,503 hours had been logged as of that day, said Bibbee.

The building code department continued their code enforcement policies throughout 2013, said councilman Steve Stephens. As of Dec. 20, the building code department had issued 549 building permits during the year, said Stephens. There were 11 commercial development and block grants issued in order to make homes in Vienna more energy efficient, he said.

Vienna Budget and Finance Committee liaison Councilman Paul Thornton reported that all meetings involving the city’s budget had been held in public in 2013, and will continue to be held so in the future.

The budget and finance committee received almost $5 million through donations and grants in 2013, said Thornton. This money created a capitol reserve fund that permits the city to finance improvement projects without needing to expose the public to debt, he said.

As of Dec. 20, businesses in Vienna had reported a healthy financial Christmas season, said Thornton. Sales were up from this time last year, he said.

The Vienna Police Department reported zero officers injured in the line of duty during 2013 as of Dec. 20, said Councilwoman Cathy Smith, the liason for the department. All of the required continual training for officers had been completed for the year, she said.

The police department purchased 10 new tasers, as well as the beginning of annex construction at the station, said Smith.