Woodlands Development Group described their activities, including building homes and restoring properties, to Parsons City Council last week.
The group works with city and county officials to designate housing projects in a variety of settings. Woodland's documents describe the group's ability to build single homes, multi-home rental properties and provide building renovations. Woodland offers assistance with building and with their own construction crew, and offer financial help through their lending branch, Woodland Community Lenders.
"Our bread and butter is housing development," said Dave Clark, director of Woodlands.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
Dave Clark, director of Woodlands Development Group, speaks to Parsons City Council last week about housing projects and funding made possible through the group.
He spoke about a new business development program that allows Woodlands Development to work with Woodlands Lenders to provide grants and loans.
Woodlands Lenders is able to offer loans of up to $100,000, Clark said.
Any loan amount offered by the group is able to be matched in a grant by the Woodlands Development through funds provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and USDA Rural Development, officials said.
A loan of $4,000 or greater can be matched with a $4,000 grant, if the leasee is determined eligible.
The group is able to provide services to Randolph, Barbour and Tucker County.
Clark said Wellness Development services are often used by volunteer groups who do not have the manpower or capital to complete large projects.
"Each community is different," said Clark, speaking about what could be done in Parsons.
He responded to Jason Myers, Parsons city administrator, who asked about several downtown Parsons buildings that could be either demolished or refurbished.
Clark said their construction crews could be used to help out the city, once it is decided what the best course for city buildings will be.
"We need to have a logical evaluation to decide, 'What are our options?'" said councilman Timothy Auvil, commenting on downtown renovation.
Clark will be meeting with the Parsons ON-TRAC committee to take steps with Parsons officials to decide what the best course will be.
Concerning the recent damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Auvil read a letter of commendation for all emergency workers and volunteers who helped out during the storm.
"These are the people most of our residents know little about and the work they do," said Auvil. "These are the special people working at and with the EOC center."
He also specifically mentioned the dispatchers and workers at the 911 center.
"Every community in Tucker County worked together, shared resources, equipment and manpower to work every problem that arose," Auvil said. "If you see these individuals, give them a hug or a hand shake. Thank them for their hard work."
In other news, a new heating and cooling system will be installed in the Parsons Municipal Building.
Council documents said Allied Refrigeration will be removing the old equipment and installing a new system at a total cost of $1,150.
"We will save (the total cost) in just two months with the energy savings," Myers speculated.
The new system, council members said, will have the ability to shut off once a certain time and temperature threshold is reached. For instance, it can be programmed to shut off at 8 p.m. and will stay off unless the temperature in the building drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature drops below the threshold of 68 degrees, for example, the heater can kick on, heat the building and then shut down until the temperature drops a subsequent time.
Several personnel decisions were made following an executive session:
-Jess Hudnall was hired as a full time manager of the Parsons Wellness Center, at $10 per hour.
-Dave Hudnall's hours at the Wellness Center were increased and his pay increased to $8.25 an hour. He will still be considered a part-time employee.
-Kelsey Gilbert will be hired at $8 an hour and will work on an as-needed basis.
-Jeff Owens was hired as a full-time water/wastewater technician at $9 an hour.
-Mistie Bolyard was hired as a full-time administrative support specialist at $8 an hour.
The city's First and Second Streetscape Project has put up two lamp posts on First Street.
"They have a clear globe, which I am impressed with," said Myers. "I was very impressed."
Benches and trash cans have also been placed on the street, said council members. The benches are bolted to the concrete and are flush with the side of the block's buildings.
The remainder of the lamp posts should be done before Christmas so that lights and decorations can be hung. Myers said he is urging the construction crew to finish them as quickly as possible.
Region 7, a planning and development council, has been approved to take over the grant application and monetary duties with the Source Water Protection Improvements and Public Awareness Project.
The project is tied to a grant which will allow the city to make improvements to the raw water intake plant, including a new perimeter fence and security cameras.
Obtaining a grant for this project, however, involves a lot of red tape, said Myers, and it cannot be properly handled by the city at this time.
Region 7 will prepare the grant application process to ease the burden on the city. Once the grant money has been obtained, Auvil said, city officials will be able to begin construction at the plant.
For the Pulp Mill Bottom Storm Drainage Improvements Project, a notice of intent will be sent to the WV Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The letter of intent will specify, council members said, that the city will be addressing an issue of water drainage near Poplar Street. Currently, water pools in the center of the street, causing a bowl of water which doesn't drain readily. The road will need to be repaved to drain correctly.