Panhandle Rail Trail gets $100,000

WEIRTON – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has given the city $100,000 for the Panhandle Rail Trail, City Council reported Monday.

The money will be used to add two more inches of crushed limestone to a 4.6-mile section of the rail trail, extending from mile marker 39.7 to the Pennsylvania state line.

Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel, the city’s park and recreation director, said the original limestone surface was applied “about 12 years ago now, so it’s in need of new surfacing.”

Weigel said council previously earmarked local funding in hopes of securing grant money.

Ward 1 Councilman Ron Jones, in Charleston to accept the grant award along with longtime trail proponent and former Councilman Dave Cline, said the grant was one of 36 announced by Tomblin Monday.

The funding is part of the Mountain State’s 2012 Transportation Enhancement Grant Program, a federal-aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and is earmarked for nontraditional transportation projects such as improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists through the construction of sidewalks and trails, acquisition of scenic or historic sites, preserving historic resources and stimulating tourism development.

“We’ll try to get that surface done for the spring,” Weigel said.

In other action, council also renewed appointments to the city’s planning and traffic commissions as well as the zoning board.

Reappointed to the traffic commission were Romie Castelli, George Redish, Douglas Branham, Dave Guglielmo and Jan Hicks. Castelli and Redish will serve through Dec. 31, 2016; Branham, Guglielmo and Hicks will serve until Dec. 31, 2015.

Planning commission reappointments are Mary Hanna Finton and Eli Dragisich, both serving until Dec. 31, 2015, while Vince Azzarello and Mike Simon were reappointed to the zoning board, also serving through Dec. 31, 2015.

Council also signed off on an ordinance creating a new position – municipal court/legal analyst – with a minimum salary of $25,509.71 and maximum, $27,704.46.

Special recognition was given to students for their “If I Were Mayor” essays, a competition sponsored by the City and First Choice American Federal Credit Union, Hancock County Schools and Strip Steel Community and Tin Mill Community credit unions.

Presented with plaques and checks for $125 were Wesley Noble, a seventh grader at St. Paul School; Nadia Korth, a seventh grader at St. Joseph the Worker School; and Jacob Conley, seventh grader at Weir Middle School.