The Newsletter of the Rotary Club of Bluefield, West Virginia
November 19, 2013
|November 26||David Olive & Gene Bailey|
|December 3||Meeting changed to December 6|
Note: If you are not able to serve as a greeter on your
scheduled date, please arrange for a substitute.
Resolution for Charlie Olmsted
Don Rice and Stan Funston presented a resolution for Rotarian Charles Olmsted, who passed away recently and unexpectedly. Charlie was a member of our club since 1999, was a Paul Harris Fellow, served in the National Guard, was a radiation oncologist at Bluefield Regional Medical Center for more than 30 years, and frequently hosted Rotary Exchange Students in his home.
Charlie was a good Rotarian and a fine person who is greatly missed. The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the members present, and will be forwarded to Charlie's family. Jenifer McGhee, who along with her deceased husband former Bluefield Rotarian Jack McGhee, were close friends of Charlie and his family, and accepted the Resolution on the family's behalf.
● Important events:
** The Dec. 2 meeting is being moved to Friday, Dec. 6, at 6:00 p.m. The Summit Players will present "Nun Crackers" for us. Free to Rotarians, but there will be a charge for spouses/guests.
** Bell Ringing at Wal-Mart and K-Mart on November 30 and December 14. See Larry Douglas to sign up
** Shopping for Little Jimmy will take place on December 13.
Please sign up for these as soon as possible
** Rotary Green Tree Lighting December 2.
** The November food drive ends on the 23. Please bring cans and other containers of non-perishable food each week until then.
● The Club will be selling coffee again this year as a fund raiser. Bags are $10, and cases are available for $120.
● Don't forget the Club Membership Drive. We want to continue to bring new members into our Club. If you have ideas for new members, contact Membership Chair Connie Saunders.
● Basket Money: November - Little Jimmy; December - Salvation Army
Guests this Week:
Jenifer McGhee, guest of the Club
Larry Ratliff, Princeton Rotary
The Program: Gerald Steele, Bluefield, WV Building Inspector
Substituting for Police Chief Dennis Dillow, who had to be in court, City Building Inspector Gerald Steele joined us to talk about his newest job with the City, after being in the Fire Department for 30 years and being Fire Chief the last nine of them, before retiring. He then rejoined the City in the Building Inspection Department a few years ago, and retired again, but he said, "I'm apparently not very good at being retired," and has now rejoined the City once again as Building Inspector.
He talked about the City's efforts to remove dilapidated structures and to enforce City code where the appearance of properties is below standards. Both of these areas, he said, have a great deal to do with how the City is perceived both by residents and visitors.
He said that more than 750 cases have been opened against property owners, 518 of which are breaches of what he referred to as "nuisance ordinances" involving failure to maintain lawns satisfactorily or having trash in yards. The code violations are usually remedied through warnings, but some require court action. He said that about half of those that go to court are properties owned by absentee owners, and that the City does not have mechanisms available to adequately deal with these problems.
On a positive note, he said that the City currently has building projects requiring permits that total about $10 million, and that other projects also are underway that do not require permits that might equal that figure.
His Department also focuses on the demolition of dilapidated structures, and he said that where improvements tend to lead to other improvements, it is also true that decline tends to lead to additional decline, and that keeping the number of problem structures as low as possible is important for that reason.
Abandoned and derelict structures present a real problem for the City, he said. These sometimes occur when someone passes away without heirs to inherit the property, or whose heirs are not local residents, or due to economic conditions where owners simply walk away from their property. In such cases the City has a process to follow to evaluate properties and determine that they should be condemned, and can then be demolished. Gerald said that even though remedies for the city to recover the expense of demolition are inadequate, it is worth the cost to remove dangerous and unsightly structures. Over the last 10 or so years, the city has removed approximately 500 derelict properties, with some financial assistance from block grants and reimbursement from property owners.
Trying to keep the City looking good and removing dangerous structures is an on-going battle, and Gerald and his department seem to be on top of the situation.