BUCKHANNON – Downtown Buckhannon won’t be adorned in any new-fangled holiday décor come December because this Christmas season, what’s old is new, and the fresh, new theme for 2021 is “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.”
Buckhannon City Council at its meeting Oct. 7 approved a recommendation from the city’s Consolidated Public Works Board to allocate $5,000 for Christmas/holiday decorations. Council members also gave a thumbs-up to the “Old-Fashioned Christmas” motif. Each holiday season, the city’s Downtown Christmas Decorating Committee, the Buckhannon-Upshur Retail Merchants Association and the city Street Department team up to execute the yearly theme.
At the Oct. 7 council meeting, mayor Robbie Skinner explained the $5,000 expenditure would be utilized to replace any defunct decorations.
“This is for us, if we need to, to replace any Christmas decorations, and we have more poles now because of the Gateway West Project that takes us (sidewalks and light poles) out to the [Corridor H] underpass,” Skinner said. “That recommendation was passed by Consolidated and referred to city council and that’s where we are right now.”
The second yuletide-related item on council’s agenda was consideration of “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” as the 2021 theme. Skinner said he had attended a Buckhannon-Upshur Retails Merchants Association meeting to discuss the issue.
“We discussed the theme to be ‘An Old-Fashioned Christmas,’ and I love it,” he said. “I think it’s great. That way, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel with additional Christmas decorations that we may not use again.”
At a prior Consolidated Board meeting, members discussed a patriotic theme, ‘A Hero’s Christmas,’ but there were some questions about how red, white and blue-colored decorations would mesh with Buckhannon’s signature green garland and white light-covered light poles.
“We can continue with the theme of having the white lights and green garland going up the poles,” Skinner said. “We have the green wreathes with the white lights around the poles. We’ll still put our banners down through town and then every business can decorate [in accordance with] what an old-fashioned Christmas means to them, so it could be a gingerbread house, it could be a Christmas tree – whatever they want to do.”
Skinner said permitting businesses and storefronts the leeway to bring to life their own interpretations of an ‘old-fashioned Christmas’ was a business-friendly decision.
“We talked about this at BURMA: that businesses have had a rough couple of years, so purchasing items that are specific to a specialized theme can get expensive,” Skinner said. “This way, people already have decorations at their homes that they can bring to their stores, and it’ll look classy; it’ll look nice.”
Voted on as separate motions, council unanimously approved the $5,000 expenditure and the theme.
Council also approved the second budget revision of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which included, but was not limited to:
- Expending $10,000 in payment to JH Consulting LLC for a countywide study of the delivery of emergency services. City council and the county commission are splitting the cost of the study.
- Expending $5,000 to cover the city’s insurance deductible, related to the lawsuit filed by former city employee Laura Foulks.
- Expending $154,000 to purchase a wheel-loader and a side-by-side for the Street Department.
- Increasing the Stockert Youth & Community Center’s capital outlay line item by $29,000, part of which includes an expenditure of $14,500 for asbestos removal and $10,000 for debris removal from the now-razed Knights of Pythias building.
- Receiving a $12,000 donation/revenue from River Valley CDS to assist SYCC in purchasing a new bus.
- Receiving about $2.1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency grants/revenue for generators at the Sewer Department plant raw water intake area, the Public Safety Complex, and for 16 booster stations and the city Water Plant.
- Receiving an additional $186,725 in 1 percent sales tax revenue.
Prior to adjourning, council also:
- Approved a request from the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce to sponsor their annual awards celebration slated for Oct. 21 in the amount of $1,000.
- Approved a financial funding request from the Almost Heaven BBQ Bash for $2,000 for the Spooktacular Backyard BBQ (contest only) on Oct. 29-30.
- Approved on first reading Ordinance 453, which changes the residency requirements of the City of Buckhannon’s municipal judge. Specifically, a prior ordinance stated that the municipal judge was required to be “at all times during his or her service as Judge … a bona fide city resident.” The new ordinance amends the prior one to allow any resident of Upshur County to serve as municipal judge. However, if the person moves out of Upshur County, the judge must immediately vacate her or his seat.
- Accepted the resignation of Martha Edgell from the Charles W. Gibson Public Library Board.
The next Buckhannon City Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 in council chambers/city hall.