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Town Council meeting: To upgrade or to be of aid

By Iyee Jagne - For the Chronicle | Feb 19, 2021

This was the former Shepherdstown Visitors Center, before it closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Iyee Jagne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The monthly Shepherdstown Town Council was rescheduled from Feb. 9, to be held on Feb. 11 over Zoom.

Attendees included Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer, Town Recorder Lori Robertson and Town Council members Cheryl Roberts, Jim Ford, Chris Stroech, Jenny Haynes and Marty Amerikaner.

The meeting started with a short discussion about how to inform town residents of the monthly meetings, to increase their town involvement. One way the town is hoping to encourage an increase in town involvement is through its new emailing system. The new system would notify town residents when meetings are taking place, as opposed to checking the town page. Emails from the system, which would share other important Shepherdstown-related information, would be sent out on a weekly or monthly basis, or immediately, in the event of an emergency.

The conversation then shifted to ways to improve the Shepherdstown Visitors Center. The SVC’s former location, at 201 South Princess Street, was taken over by an insurance agency in Sept. 2019, after the SVC had to close its physical doors due to the pandemic. Currently, the SVC has decided to pursue joining the Jefferson County Visitors Center, or relocating in the Market House, after the new Shepherdstown Public Library building has been opened.

According to the Town Council, the SVC is integral to the success of the town’s tourism industry. Because of this, some of the council members indicated their support of investing money into the SVC, to ensure the town will continue to attract tourists and, with them, tourism dollars.

According to Auxer, the town currently has over $75,000 to fund its basic needs, such as roads and damaged signs. Typically, that would not include an organization like the SVC, but some council members said during the meeting they would like a portion of those funds to be given to the SVC.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the SVC was not able to host any of its usual activities last year. Therefore, it was unable to raise money to maintain itself or fund its future endeavors. This summer, the SVC hopes to host some summer activities, depending on how things go with the pandemic, which would require funding that the center does not currently have.

The Town Council could not come to an agreement on how to help the SVC in the meeting, without further information. Auxer said a vote to relocate the funds will most likely take place during the March council meeting, once all of the council members have had the opportunity to look into the situation more closely.