It is very unusual for a town to want to be taken over, but that is exactly the intention of the city of Ripley in its efforts to catch the eye of television network HGTV.
The network is sponsoring a “Home Town Makeover” contest open to any town with a population under 40,000. Hosts of the television show “Home Town,” Ben and Erin Napier, will lead the process by “taking over” and making over the lucky winner.
According to Ripley Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) director Mike Ruben, the rules of the contest are very brief.
“You have to submit a narrative, five photographs, and a brief video featuring those who love the town,” Ruben explained.
That’s what the Ripley CVB and the city of Ripley teamed up to do.
Ruben and videographer Adam Hager produced a video, roughly seven-minutes long, showcasing the special, historic, fascinating and unique’ town of Ripley. Five photos by Ron Gaskins of West Virginia Fine Photography were chosen to be included as part of the entry package.
“We incorporated video by the legendary Don Flesher as well as Ripley as it appears today being described by people who love it,” Ruben said. “I think we have the perfect location and hopefully what HGTV is looking for, residential, green space, and Main Street businesses in need of help.”
As far as when the announcement of the winning town will be made, Ruben said it is unclear.
“We’re really not sure how the process plays out,” he said. “But the winner will get a six-month makeover and will be part of a six-episode program in 2021. I’m very pleased with our entry. It is clear that Ripley is a much-loved town.”
The medical cannabis issue was also discussed at the Feb. 18 Ripley City Council meeting attended by all five council members, City Recorder David Casto, and Mayor Carolyn Rader.
Ravenswood mayor Josh Miller was invited to speak and answer questions regarding medical cannabis dispensaries and operations. On Feb. 4, Ravenswood City Council approved leasing the old city hall to Mountain State Integrated Care, pending permit approval by the West Virginia Bureau of Health.
The question of the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries, growers, or processors is a moot point in Miller’s opinion.
“It’s legal now in the state of West Virginia,” he said. “The discussion is over as far as the state is concerned.”
Several questions were posed by Council regarding any benefits to the city or county, advertising restrictions, and lack of Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
“There will, of course, be the business and occupation tax,” Miller explained. “With Home Rule coming to both Ripley and Ravenswood, along with several other cities, who knows what taxes may be available in the future. But immediately, I see lots of jobs both directly with the businesses and indirectly with opportunities in security since the dispensary requires twenty-four-seven protection.”
Miller also said restrictions on advertising and operational hours can be determined by the city according the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.
“As far as the FDA approval, cannabis is still considered a Schedule One drug on the federal level ,” he stated. “So there still needs to be regulation, along with checks and balances.”
Amy Haskins, Jackson County Health Department administrator, explained that only certain physicians will be certified to issue a letter to the Bureau of Health to certify the need for a medical cannabis card which costs $50.
Haskins also noted that the local board of health still has to approve any application sent to them by the state. Because no evaluation guidelines have been given, the health department has tasked Haskins with compiling some for consideration.
The legislative bill has given cities even more leeway regarding the approval of medical cannabis operations as well.
“The way I see it,” Mayor Carolyn Rader said, “is we can zone, regulate, or ban any operation in the city of Ripley.”
In other business:
• Police Chief Brad Anderson noted that four members of the police department passed all requirements to be part of the Special Response Team. Other team members will come from the Ravenswood City Police and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
• The Building Commission elected Ron Waybright as president, David Moore as vice-president, and Linda Dickirson as secretary.
• The meeting with FEMA and Thrasher concerning Phase II Sewer has been moved to March 3.
• Council had the first reading for consideration of an ordinance authorizing the leasing of certain real property located at Academy Drive from the Ripley Building Commission.
• At its Feb. 18 meeting, the Ripley Building Commission approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the purchase of and subsequent leasing to the City of Ripley, certain real estate located at Academy Drive, and the financing of the cost of acquisition and development thereof through the issuance by the building commission of its Lease Revenue Bonds Series 2020A in the aggregate principal amount of not more than $2,000.000.
The next meeting of the Ripley Building Commission will be at 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 25, followed by a special Ripley City Council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building.