Beech Bottom given award; seeks grant for sidewalks

BEECH BOTTOM – For the fifth consecutive year, Beech Bottom officials and residents have received a state award for their efforts to beautify the community.

The presentation of the West Virginia Make it Shine Award, the village’s application for a grant to replace sidewalks and an increase in its municipal service fee were among issues before council on Tuesday.

Scott Lemons, a project manager for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan program, was on hand to present the award. It is given to municipalities involved in community cleanups, removal of illegal dumps, the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program and other beatification efforts.

Mayor George Lewis applauded Councilwoman Becky Uhlly and Village Recorder Linda Dowell for organizing a spring cleanup this year as part of the village’s Neighborhood Watch program.

More than 30 volunteers of all ages collected 33 bags of garbage and debris, tires, a swimming pool liner and other miscellaneous items and were fed breakfast and a pizza lunch during the event.

Council also agreed to apply for a grant of about $141,000 from the West Virginia Department of Transportation to replace sidewalks on the east side of High Street from its south end to Third Street and on its west side from Third to Fourth streets. If awarded, the grant will require a $39,000 match from the village.

Councilman Greg Sheperd, who is preparing the grant application, said he’s hopeful it will be awarded because the sidewalk runs along High Street, and many children walk to school.

He said many Beech Bottom residents walk, with many seniors going by foot to the village’s post office, Beech Bottom Community Christian Church and other places in town.

Sheperd said there are plans to seek bids for the replacement of sidewalks along the east side of Hill Street, with a spring start expected. That project will be funded by a state Department of Transportation grant of about $125,000 and a $35,000 match from the village.

Council also:

Approved an increase in the village’s service fee from $1 per month to $5 per month. Pending approval of a second reading at council’s Dec. 17 meeting, the increase will go into effect on Jan. 1. The fee, which is is added to each water customer’s bill, may be used to repair streets and alleys, paint curbs, clean streets and sewers, purchase and spread salt in winter and cut grass on village property, among other services.

Lewis said the increase will help to offset such expenses, with the cost to purchase salt alone at $3,200 per year.

He said the village accepted written comment on the increase and received three letters in support and two against.

Heard from Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, who asked council to again provide $1,000 for the organization’s efforts to spur economic development in Brooke and Hancock counties.

Ford said in the last few years, the BDC has helped to bring 691 full- and part-time jobs and $13.8 million in business investments at the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant and other Beech Bottom property through the opening of Sheehan Pipe Line Construction, Integrity Kokosing, Profoam and Jupiter Aluminum facilities there.

He added the BDC has helped to bring 1,456 jobs and $49.5 million in business investments to Brooke and Hancock counties, helping to lower the unemployment rate in both counties by about 2 percent.

Ford said the BDC’s efforts have been supported by contributions from the municipalities of Beech Bottom, Weirton and New Cumberland and the Brooke and Hancock county commissions as well as private investors.

Ford invited officials and residents to tour the Wheeling Corrugating Plant to see improvements that have been made there in recent months by Jupiter Aluminum.

Councilman Rich Westfall said adults are invited to take the tour at about 2 p.m. on Dec. 14, following the village’s Christmas party.

Westfall said a sign-up sheet will be available at the Beech Bottom Municipal Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those with questions may call him at (304) 281-0900.

(Scott can be contacted at