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Dunbar neighborhood watch program underway

By Marta Ree Tankersley

DUNBAR, W.Va. -- The Dunbar Police Department is holding training meetings for their neighborhood watch program every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Dunbar Athletic Boosters Club on Charles Avenue, according to Lt. Scott Elliot.

"We want citizens to be our eyes and ears," he said at the city council meeting Monday evening.

Council members encouraged citizens to attend the meetings, which are scheduled to accommodate each ward separately.

"If you can, please attend these neighborhood watch meetings," said Council President Dana K. Hayes. "It's amazing what can happen in a positive way, if we work together."

The training sessions will continue under the leadership of the police department for several months, according to Elliot, who said that eventually the separate wards would work more independently.

Neighborhood watch signs will be installed as a way to further deter crime, according to Councilman Gail Harper.

Councilman Stephen Arnott encouraged citizens to use the anonymous tip-line (304-766-0201) if they see suspicious activity whether they are part of the neighborhood watch program or not. 

Council approved the payment of city invoices Monday, including $17,000 for recycling bags.

The bags are expensive and there is some indication that people who live outside of Dunbar have picked them up them in the past. For that reason, people will need to present their city sanitation bill when they pick up the recycling bags, according to Mayor Terry Greenlee.

"We are hoping this measure will allow us to save money on the purchase next year," said Greenlee.

Sanitary department Director Ron Byrnside reported that the engineering division of West Virginia Public Service Commission met and toured sections of 10th Street and Roxalana Road that will be affected by the $12.5 million storm drainage construction project that's tentatively set to begin in January.

Byrnside also said that the state Division of Highways is involved with determining how traffic will be detoured during the construction stage.

He also reported that the new street-sweeper should be able to clean all city streets in a three-week cycle.

In recreation news, recreation consultant Aaron Settle reported that the Shawnee pool, which has had 4,499 patrons so far this summer, has been vandalized, with windows broken and a fence cut.

"There have been break-ins at the pool," he said. "We don't want someone to hop in and drown."

A dog swim at the Shawnee pool has been scheduled for the evening of Sept. 3, when the pool will be partially drained in preparation for winter.

Settle also announced the city will sponsor an amateur lawnmower race and cornhole tournament in late August or early September at the old Ames parking lot.

"It's something new for the area," he said. "There is a big following for lawnmower racing in Kentucky and Ohio where people soup up their riding mowers like they are racing for NASCAR." 

In other business, council approved the rezoning of Fairlawn Avenue to accommodate existing businesses and allow the operation of a new business there, which will increase the property values for the area, according to Building Inspector Hugh Leishman.

Greenlee reported that a city lawyer has proposed a resolution to the annexation request brought by residents of the Institute area earlier in the year and a public meeting will be held to discuss the issue within two weeks.

Council also appointed Harold Craigo to the property board, Stephen Swisher as city attorney, certified engineer Robert Campbell to the sanitary board, and Barbara Yeager to the historical preservation commission.


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