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Street Fest given approval for 2009 event

By Staff | Apr 17, 2009

Shepherdstown resident Ed Zahniser speaks in favor of Street Fest. Photo by Michael Theis

Shepherdstown Street Fest was granted the use of German St. for their 2009 festival, but with some caveats. Also, the town officially has a new police chief, a new city councilman, and a new town recorder. These were the results of last Tuesday’s packed City Council meeting at Town Hall, 104 N. King St.

It was standing room only at the town council meeting, the Street Fest agenda item was responsible for most of the crowd in attendance. This had the unintended benefit of providing a sizable audience for the swearing in of Shepherdstown’s new police chief, Timothy Johnson, who the Council unanimously approved with no discussion. Council members noted that Johnson’s appointment has generated a positive response from residents, businesses, and employees of the town.

The assembled crowd also witnessed something of a municipal-government version of a Chinese fire drill: Council woman Lori Robertson resigned her seat only to be immediately sworn in as town recorder, a recently vacated position. Her resignation to fill a vacancy created yet another vacancy for her old Town Council seat. Mayor Jim Auxer appointed and swore in Jim Ford, co-owner of the Thomas Shepherd Inn, to the seat recently vacated by Robertson.

Next on the agenda was the location for the 2009 Shepherdstown Street Festival. A diverse crowd consisting of local business owners, residents, local artists, and charities contributed to, what at times seemed like a public negotiation mediated by the Town Council. Representatives of Street Fest were asking for the closure of German St. from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the day of the festival. Meredith Wait, a local retailer and president of Shepherdstown Business Association asked that the Town Council approve Street Fest for a permit on King Street, so as to not affect their downtown parking. Representatives from the Shepherdstown Museum and Shepherdstown Day Care told the council that Street Fest has been one of their biggest fundraising days, with the Museum making $2,000, and the Day Care raising over $1,200 selling hot dogs at last years Street Fest. Lindsey Guild, a local screen-printer living outside of town, said the t-shirt sales from her booth at Street Fest have paid her mortgage for that month, and testified that Street Fest is one of the busiest days of the year for the Blue Moon Cafe, for whom she has worked for 10 years.

Out of this civic round table came a list of caveats with which the permit to close German St. was approved: The Street Fest organizers wil have to appoint a member of their event staff to patrol the sidewalks to make sure that vendors aren’t crowding the public walkways, they will appoint a public liason for the day whose job it will be to respond to keep the lines of communication open between downtown businesses and the Street Fest organizers, and signage directing visitors to campus parking will be as prominent as the parking signage campaigns during Shepherd football games. The caveat likely to be most apparent to participants in the upcoming street fest will be the elimination of open alcohol consumption on German St. with the creation of streetside beer gardens designed to contain public displays of intoxication. Many retail business complained of rowdy drunks wreaking havoc on the inventories of their stores, and the nerves of their employees.

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Employees can

donate sick leave

The Council also passed a measure which allows a Town employee to donate up to five days of sick leave, on a voluntary basis, to any other employee who is experience a catastrophic illness. This measure, spearheaded by Council woman Wanda Grantham-Smith, was crafted to meet the needs of an employee of the town who has recently been dealing with health problems.

Boot, garbage fee increases advanced

The Town Council voted to increase the fee incurred when ones car is booted by parking enforcement. The fine jumps from $50 to $100. A 7 percent increase in the garbage rate was also approved. This increase, the first garbage rate increase since 2005, is designed to cover the costs of the Town recycling program.

Sewer rate

increase proposed

The sewer rates saw a dramatic jump upwards of 20 percent. This increase is designed to meet utility rate requirements to be eligible for low interest loans from the Infrastructure Council, a state entity which funds public works projects, for the construction of a new waste-water treatment plant, projected to cost $9.75 million. In order to be eligible for monies from the Infrastructure Council the rates must be 1.5 percent of the median income of a city’s residents, around $48,000 for Shepherdstown.

Other items approved were a donation to the local Cub Scout troop, two police enforcement grants, the Riverside Park budget was reclassified as the Rumsey Park budget. The Building Commission was dissolved, and its members now form the Town Hall Construction Committee.