(Posted Aug. 6, 2014)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Galbreath Hall could be coming down.
On Aug. 4, West Jefferson village council voted to seek bids to demolish the aging building used by the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA).
“We’ve been ‘round and ‘round on this and come to the conclusion that the building, which holds fond memories for me, no longer can be used, and the cost of refurbishing and bringing it up to code is too much,” said Council President Ron Garver.
Council has had many discussions about the fate of the building and how to replace it. Several months ago, an engineering firm deemed the building structurally unsafe for occupancy.
Garver said he talked to many residents about the building during West Jefferson’s July Fourth Streetfest. He said most favored tearing it down while the rest wanted to know what would replace it.
Council members have discussed the possibility of constructing a multi-purpose community center.
Garver said he would like to see such a center be a joint venture with the Jefferson Township trustees but said the idea hasn’t gained traction. In the meantime, he is gathering ideas from the Prairie Township trustees in Franklin County. They are building a community center with funds from a Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) approved by voters several years ago.
To build a center in West Jefferson, the village would need more funds. Garver said a one-mill levy would mean an extra $35 in taxes a year on a $100,000 house. The earliest the village could seek such a levy would be the May 2015 ballot, he said.
Regarding demolition, Garver said he couldn’t see pouring “hundreds of thousands of dollars into a building that is not being used.” He said he doesn’t see why it can’t be demolished.
Public Service Director Dave Metzger said he would like to have bids for demolition ready to open on Aug. 27 and present at the Sept. 2 council meeting.
The only comment from the audience came from Herman Stanley, a WJYAA leader who wanted to know if, during discussions in various committee meetings, anyone suggested turning the building over to the youth association.
Councilman Ray Martin confirmed that the idea was discussed in committee meetings but rejected because the village would still be liable in case of injuries.
Council approved several other pieces of legislation, all unanimously.
• The Madison County Emergency Management Agency will apply for a grant on behalf of the village to install an additional tornado siren. The village has two sirens, one at Hampton Cemetery and the other above Parsons Hardware.
• The police department received a $12,500 donation from Jefferson Industries. Chief Terry Ward wants to use the money to update some weapons. The department also received $500 from the West Jefferson Lions Club for supplies and materials for the K-9 unit.
• Council gave Mayor Darlene Steele permission to apply for, accept and enter into a Water Pollution Control Loan Fund Agreement for planning, design and construction of wastewater treatment plant improvements. If a loan is obtained, it would be repaid, with interest, from user fees.
Tribute to Eaton
Council members paid tribute to Rhoda Eaton, a long-time member of the Planning and Zoning Commission who passed away last month.
Council President Ron Garver presented a certificate of appreciation to Eaton’s daughter, Rebecca Pasholk.
“She put her heart into planning and zoning,” Garver said. “She wanted to do the best job she could for the village.”
Eaton served more than 12 years on the commission, many as chairperson.
Vice President Steve Johnston remembered her as one “who knew the regulations and what page to find it on.”
Pasholk thanked everyone and said “all her records we could find have been turned over to Arnie Booth (building and zoning inspector). We’re still finding her notes all over the house.”