BETHANY - Members of Bethany Council on Wednesday approved the acquisition of land for its wastewater treatment system, but were split over support of an effort aimed at reducing feral cats in the town.
Council unanimously approved a four-year lease of six acres belonging to Bethany College and near the town's wastewater treatment facility.
The lease calls for the town to pay $100 per year for four years for use of the property, on which the town may spray treated wastewater if a drought should result in Buffalo Creek being unusually low.
GRANT CONFIRMED — Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, presented to Bethany Council confirmation of a Governor’s Community Partnership Grant of $3,500 for a “Welcome to Bethany” sign to be built near state Routes 67 and 88. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Bethany Council members Helen Moren, Linda Chivers and Ted Pauls, Mayor Jay Eisenhauer, Diserio and Councilmen Gray Williamson and Pat Sutherland. - Warren Scott
The practice of discharging treated wastewater into rivers and creeks isn't uncommon and is regulated by federal and state environmental agencies.
Mayor Jay Eisenhauer explained the town is permitted by the state Department of Environmental Protection to discharge a certain level of treated wastewater into the creek. It may not do that if the creek is low, so the land agreement enables the town to dispose of the water elsewhere if needed.
He said the town's sanitation board also has approved the lease.
Council also agreed to allot up to $300 for efforts to reduce feral cats by trapping the felines, spaying or neutering them, vaccinating them against rabies and re-releasing them into the community.
The project was proposed by Councilwoman Linda Chivers and resident Zoe McWilliams, who said altering the cats will reduce the number of strays since they won't be able to reproduce.
McWilliams said an effort will be made to find homes for recent strays and kittens and to relocate feral cats to area farms to further reduce the population.
Chivers said it's important to return some feral cats to the community because they are territorial and will discourage new cats from circulating in the town.
McWilliams had asked for $2,000, saying it costs about $50 to alter a female cat and $25 to alter a male.
Eisenhauer suggested council allot a smaller amount, pursuing the effort on a trial basis.
Chivers said the cats' ears are clipped before being re-released so they can be identified.
Councilmen Pat Sutherland and Gray Williamson sided with Chivers in supporting the effort, while council members Ted Pauls and Helen Moren abstained.
Pauls asked if the cats have become an issue because they are being dumped there or because they are encouraged to congregate there by residents who feed them.
Moren noted Wellsburg Council, in addressing feral cats, recently adopted a provision calling for residents who feed cats to be held responsible for them and fined for violating an ordinance.
In his motion for the allocation, Sutherland suggested council discourage residents from feeding the cats. But Chivers said she will feed cats that live near her home because it's inhumane not to and it's her concern for the felines that led to the proposal.
Eisenhauer said the proposed solution isn't a perfect one but council can't ignore the problem.
"I think doing nothing is not the answer longterm. Somewhere down the road we'll have to do something," he said prior to the vote.
The mayor said similar concerns about wild animals spreading disease led to the town hiring a person to collect about 50 raccoons this spring. The effort was approved by the state Division of Natural Resources and cost the town about $100.
In other business, council:
Received confirmation from state Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, of a $3,500 Governor's Community Partnership Grant for a Welcome to Bethany sign. Diserio said state Del. Roy Givens, D-Brooke, applied for the grant.
Eisenhauer said the sign will be built near the intersection of state Routes 88 and 67 and Bethany College's Mountainside Conference Center. He said town officials will work with Aladdin Signs of Beech Bottom to develop a design.
Agreed to provide $143 to consultant Lou Stein of Wheeling for miles driven to Bethany to work with the town's Main Street revitalization committee to develop a marketing plan for economic development.
Sutherland, who chairs the committee, said Stein has withdrawn from the project, saying responsibilities with his other position prevent him from pursuing it, and has indicated he won't accept anything for his services to date. But Sutherland suggested Stein should receive mileage for 10 trips he made to Bethany, based on the town's mileage rate of 55 cents per mile.
He added the committee is considering pursuing the plan with another individual's help at its Nov. 27 meeting.