In an ongoing effort to find funding for various improvements to the city, the Ripley City Council at its Oct. 6 meeting, opted to hire a professional grant writing company.

A Parkersburg firm, Tiano-Knopp Associates, was given a contract for $1,200 a month. For this sum, an unlimited number of grants will be investigated by the company. Council will begin compiling a list of possible projects for grant consideration.

“Toni Tiano comes highly recommended,” Mayor Carolyn Rader said. “She and her company have obtained a number of grants, including a very expensive, well-equipped fire truck for Ravenswood. I’m excited to see what she can do for the City of Ripley.”

Council also approved a $2,200 contract with the Western Conservation District for the annual cleanup of the O’Brien Lake dam which is a water source for the city.

One issue that has arisen involves several tires that have been dumped at the lake. Councilman Rick Buckley said he has worked with the conservation district and the County Commission, which is a partner in the upkeep of the lake and dam, to deal with the issue.

The mayor updated the council on upcoming fall events including a bike ride, festival, race, and Trick-or-Treat.

“The mayor’s ride will be Oct. 17,” Mayor Rader reported. “This will start at the city park and will continue on the avenues. We want to really encourage families to get outdoors and ride their bikes.”

The West Virginia Chocolate Festival will be on the courthouse lawn at 10 a.m. on Oct. 31. Before that, at 9 a.m., Main Street Ripley will host a Freaky 5-K Run. Trick-or-Treat will cap off the day from 6-7:30 p.m. and will follow all CDC guidelines

The mayor also touched on upcoming events in November and December including the Veterans Day parade and a large children’s event at the Starcher mansion on Dec. 5.

In other business, members Buckley, Carolyn Waybright, John McGinley, Bryan Thompson, and Danny Martin, with city recorder David Casto absent:

• Approved a $19,000 contract with BHM CPA Group to conduct the city’s audit for fiscal years 2020 and 2021

• Heard a second reading to replace Section 1323 of the Zoning Appeals Board policy with state policy

• Approved the first reading to approve and adopt current replacement pages to the codified ordinances

• Learned that there will be an appreciation event at city hall for the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Army Corps of Engineers on Oct. 15

• Learned that city police cars have been decorated to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month

• Learned that the concrete work on Court Street and the city park bathrooms have been completed

Council voted to go into closed-door executive session for personnel matters. At the end of the 15-minute session, the council approved the promotion of Mark Pursley to assistant foreman at a salary of $18.75 per hour.

The next regular meeting of the city council will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the municipal building.