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Plans moving forward for Fourth of July and Chocolate Festival

Suzette Lowe

The Events Committee for the City of Ripley is doing just what the name implies. The group is already making plans for the Fourth of July and the annual Chocolate Festival.

Mayor Carolyn Rader shared with City Council the basic plan that the committee, which consists of Rader, Bobbi Ferrell, Matt Anderson, and Mike Ruben, has been discussing.

“This year the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday,” she said. “Our suggestion is to hold the parade and fireworks on Saturday. This gives us a little leeway for the fireworks in case there’s rain.”

The tentative plans include events lasting from June 30 through July 4. The traditional Unity in the Community would kick the festivities off on the first day, followed by a military band concert, the annual all class reunion Class Act, and ending with either a U-Turn concert or bluegrass and gospel sing on Sunday, July 4th.

“We’re excited to be planning this,” said Rader. “The only thing we’re not sure of is the carnival. We don’t know if the same company will be coming back or what obstacles we’ll face with that.”

The Chocolate Festival will see a date change. Normally occurring prior to Easter, this year it will take place tentatively on Oct. 30.

“The normal date this year would have been March 27,” the mayor said. “We checked with the health department about that and they suggested we reconsider due to the health pandemic. It was wildly successful this past year at the later date, so it’s going to be a great choice this year as well.”

A new committee was established and given a large task to complete. The Ordinance Review committee will cross reference current city code with the West Virginia State Code to determine what needs updated or eliminated.

Any changes the committee, consisting of Danny Martin, Carolyn Waybright, and Rick Buckley, suggests must come before the council and public meetings for discussion before any vote can be taken.

Mayor Rader made a special point of praising the city employees.

“For various health and other reasons, we’ve had a shortage in our office staff the past couple of weeks,” she said. “I can’t praise Matt Anderson and Chris Pecka enough for jumping in and covering what was needed. The city’s entire personnel is the best. There’s never been a time when asked to do something that they’ve said, ‘it’s not my job.’”

In other business, council members Waybright, Martin, Buckley, John McGinley, Bryan Thompson, and City Recorder David Casto:

• Learned from Jim Mitchum, chief water officer, that the gas line replacement project on the avenues has resulted in 17 water line repairs

• Learned that the new vac truck has arrived and four employees have been trained

• Learned that the West Virginia Municipal League is offering elected officials over the age of 50 the opportunity to receive the COVID vaccine

• Heard from City Clerk Tom Armstead that the city has recently received $84,000 from CARES Act money, making the total received approximately $800,000

The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Municipal Building.