Website concerns revisited, utility bills discussed

By Amanda Collins
Stuart Town Council members heard several concerns from two local business owners at the Town council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
John Pendleton, a property owner in Stuart, raised concerns that the town’s website included a bad link.
Pendleton said even though he first broached the subject at a June 20 meeting, the link that redirected website visitors to a pornographic website was still accessible.
The link was repaired by the day after the Sept. 19 meeting, and may have been repaired earlier if officials had found it.
Stuart Mayor Ray Weiland said that David Stanley helped go through the website and was unable to find the link addressed in the June meeting. Weiland said he was under the impression that all broken links had been repaired, especially since they couldn’t find the link Pendleton mentioned.
Accessing the town’s website up on his phone, Pendleton proceeded to show each council member the link to the porn site was still accessible.
After the meeting, Weiland said Stanley, of Silver Lining Design, provides web services through his servers, “but does not update nor is he responsible for content” on the website.
Pendleton and his wife, Angie Pendleton, also both said the town and community as a whole are not being promoted on the town’s website.
“It’s disheartening. The effort that seems to be put in over the town in general,” John Pendleton said.
For example, John Pendleton said a single photo accompanies the announcement about the upcoming Apple Dumpling Festival.
“Showing a picture of a bunch of apples to bring people in to the apple dumpling festival….I’m assuming I’m just going to go buy some apples. I can do that on the mountain. Why would somebody want to drive down the mountain to buy apples? That’s why the website is important,” John Pendleton said.
The county’s Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) is looking for someone to keep their site updated, Pendleton said. “Why can’t we jump on the back of that wagon? Why can’t we spend some money to promote the town,” he asked.
Pendleton said he has attended the past four town council meetings and has yet to hear any ideas on how to build the town.
Council members and others attending the meetings are “in and out in 30 minutes,” John Pendleton said. “This is where we should spend the time to brainstorm ideas.”
Angie Pendleton suggested that someone talk to the Patrick County High School (PCHS) to get students in agriculture to do the flowers on Main Street as a project. She said that she and her mother both have worked on their flower bed.
“Other small towns are beautiful and inviting,” Pendleton said.
However, she noted that the grass surrounding a local business “looks terrible. It’s just like nobody cares. How can we get people engaged? How can we make it attractive to get people to want to come here,” Angie Pendleton asked.
Town Manager Terry Tilley said that in the past he has talked to that businesses’ manager and the grass was eventually cut.
According to a Nuisance and Property Grounds Maintenance ordinance, adopted by the town in 1996, it is unlawful for any owner or occupant to create, cause, allow, or permit a nuisance to continue, including “any place of weeds, grass, brush or other noxious or unsightly or uncontrolled vegetation,” according to an example.
When or if the ordinance is violated, the Town Manager is permitted to give the owner or occupant a written notice to comply within 15 days. If the work is not completed in that time frame, the town can have the work done and owner/occupant must pay the costs incurred.
Other items at the meeting include:
The council took a unanimous vote that past due account holders must pay their current bill plus 50 percent of their outstanding balance and the following month they must pay their current bill plus the remaining 50 percent of their outstanding balance. Customers have 90 days to get this done; if not, their water/sewer/trash services will be cut off.
The total amount due in past due invoices is a little more than $10,000 according to Tilley. Terry Dalton, councilman, said that some individuals on the list have been behind since February.
The council voted to grant their preliminary approval on a project to build a fire dozer transport garage behind the old Food Lion building, which is the future site of the Stuart Volunteer Fire Department. A dozer, with an estimated cost of $300,000, will be stored in the building for 25 years at no cost to the town. Afterwards, the ownership of the dozer will revert to the town and the town can lease the building if desired.
Tilley said Stuart representatives hope to soon replace windows in the caboose. Vandals broke the windows during an April incident, officials have said.
Tilley sought input from council members about plans for a deck that will be installed on the caboose. Weiland suggested looking at other localities to see what type of decks have been done. Tilley said he also will get plans drawn by local contractors and request quotes.
Weiland said that Kevin Heath expects to have the engineering plans for the sewer plant in by Thursday, September 27. Heath, of Lane Group Engineering firm, helped the town get the grant for the sewer project, Weiland said after the meeting.
The issue of kudzu, an invasive plant, was discussed at the meeting. Tilley said he will contact Lisa Price Hughes, resident engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), to determine whether VDOT will handle the problem.

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