WELLSBURG - Organizers of Wellsburg's weeklong celebration of Independence Day announced the return of the Oil Can Derby is among activities slated, while city officials discussed plans to improve the city's parks at Tuesday's Wellsburg City Council meeting.
Debbie Baker, chairman of the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee, told council the Oil Can Derby, a soapbox-style race that was popular among residents for many years, is slated to return on the holiday.
Baker said the group has secured insurance coverage for the event and is working on the route it will take.
Other activities planned for the celebration, which will extend from June 27 through July 4, include four inflatable attractions to be set up at the Betty Carr Recreation Site and the traditional parade and fireworks display on July 4 and an assortment of concerts and competitions on the days leading up to the holiday.
Baker said the Anything that Floats Race will depend on the number of teams that register by June 1, as the Ohio River race involved only two teams last year.
Mayor Sue Simonetti offered encouragement to Baker and the volunteer committee, saying, "I hear people talking. They're looking forward to it (the Oil Can Derby's return)."
A few city officials suggested a different day or time for the race, however, which at this time is slated for 1 p.m. on July 4, which is a Wednesday. Some suggested the Saturday or Sunday morning before the holiday instead.
Baker was on hand to formally request assistance from the city in various ways, including funding for portable toilets during concerts held at Central Park and changes in traffic and parking conditions to accommodate the parade and the 5K town run. All were approved by council.
The week's many events are supported by sponsorships from local businesses and civic groups and a drawing held by the committee.
The question arose as to whether Central Park will be ready for the free concerts slated during the week.
Simonetti said shrubs at the park's center have been removed to make room for the types of trees and flowers that were there when the park was established. She said plans also call for a cement pad with benches at the park's center and lighting rigged to underground electrical lines.
She said though the work may not be completed, the park will be available for the concerts.
Second Ward Councilmen Paul T. Billiard and Ron Michaux suggested building a gazebo at the park instead.
Simonetti said she would like a gazebo but deed restrictions for the property, which was donated to the city by the Paull and Jacob families, prohibit a permanent structure from being built there.
Members of the families have told council the intention was for it to serve as a green space in the city.
Michaux said a gazebo built on the cement pad could be removed, and Billiard said he believes the structure would be supported by the donors.
City Solicitor Bill Cipriani said the best way to determine the families' support is to invite them to a meeting of the city properties committee "so there's no doubt as to who agreed to what."
The city's parks were a recurring issue Tuesday, with council approving an application by Simonetti for state funds to upgrade lighting at the Betty Carr Recreation Site and approving a request by Wellsburg Middle School to hold a school picnic at Central Park on May 31.
Billiard said the Wellsburg Lions Club is interested in partnering with local businesses in providing exercise stations at local parks or areas of the Yankee Trail. The stations could include chin-up bars and benches for sit-ups and could be built by city crews and volunteers, he said.
Council granted a request from Mary Kay Wallace, director of the Brooke County Public Library to hold a walk on the trail at 5:30 p.m. April 9 marking the 70th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. The library has a permanent exhibit on the infamous event.
In other business, council:
Approved the second reading of an ordinance calling for the owners of vacant buildings to register them, pay a fee ranging from $200 to $600, depending on the number of years they are unoccupied; and maintain certain conditions intended to ensure they don't present a hazard,
Approved the first reading of an ordinance calling for any contractor doing business in the city or using city streets to restore any damages.
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