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Town Council awards Certificate of Appreciation, calls for rescinding of Roxul PILOT agreement

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

Blacksmith Dan Tokar, of Shepherdstown, left, shakes hands with Mayor Jim Auxer as he receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the town during the Town Council meeting on Sept. 11. Eleanor Finn, of Shepherdstown, is in the background. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Shepherdstown Town Council met for its regular monthly meeting on Sept. 11 at Town Hall.

At the beginning of the meeting, the council approved the minutes from both Town Council meetings held in August — the council’s regular meeting and the community meeting with Rockwool representatives. Following the community meeting, the council spent time studying information gathered during the meeting and through emails from citizens concerned about the plant’s potential negative impact on the environment.

Some of those same concerned citizens returned to Town Hall during the Sept. 11 meeting, to see if the council would announce the stance it plans to hold in relation to Rockwool.

“At the last meeting we had, we had upwards of 200 people in attendance, and I thought it went pretty well. Everybody had a chance to speak,” said Mayor Jim Auxer about the community meeting.

“Shepherdstown’s known for protecting the environment. We’re a green town. We’re a Tree City and spend thousands of dollars a year to care for our trees,” Auxer said, before reading a draft of a position letter on the proposed Rockwool Plant, which the council then unanimously voted in favor of accepting.

On Sept. 12, the Town released its official position letter announcing the Corporation of Shepherdstown’s “strong opposition to the Rockwool Plant that has been proposed to be built in Jefferson County. Heavy industry and all that it brings are in direct conflict with our vision, principles and comprehensive plan. . . . (T)he Shepherdstown Community is committed to educating the public on the potential threat of the Rockwool Plant to our natural resources, air quality and public health. The Shepherdstown Town Council votes to support our community and Eastern Panhandle neighbors in opposing the Rockwool project.”

The Town’s official resolution, also released on Sept. 12, called for “the Jefferson County Deveopment Authority to oppose the Water Bond currently under consideration for Rockwool” and for the Jefferson County Commission “to rescind the PILOT agreement with Roxul; commission an independent public health and economic risk assessment for Jefferson County; and instruct the JCDA to postpone all actions on Rockwool until the requested risk assessment is provided.”

After the vote was cast, the Town Council moved on to new business.

Blacksmith Dan Tokar, of Shepherdstown, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by Auxer “(f)or the appropriate period restoration of the elegant wrought iron fence in the Shepherd Family Burial Ground, contributing in a major way to returning the site to its original 19th Century appearance. Working in traditional ways, Dan Tokar conveys quality and craftsmanship, which is so much a part of Shepherdstown’s history.”

Auxer then read the first public hearing of an ordinance annexing 2.21 acres into town, on which is located Shepherd University’s newest dorm. All of the university’s other dorms are located within the town, allowing the town to benefit from claiming a larger population, because video lottery money is given out based on population, according to Auxer.

A letter of request from the Shepherdstown Public Library to appoint Jack Eggleston to fill a trustee position was approved by the council. Boofest was approved to be held on Oct. 27, and the town’s Halloween celebration was approved to be held on Oct. 31. Dogfest was approved to be held the weekend of May 4 and 5, and will coordinate with Shepherdstown’s annual May Day festivities.