Beckley Common Council is urging West Virginia state legislators to name the East Beckley Bypass in honor of the state’s 22nd governor, who grew up in Beckley and is now buried at Wildwood Cemetery.
Council unanimously voted during the regular meeting Tuesday to ask state lawmakers to call the newly-finished highway the “Gov. Clarence C. Meadows Bypass,” following a years-long initiative by Ward I Councilman Tom Sopher.
Meadows served as governor from 1945 to 1949 and his work on a road bond was instrumental in the development of the state's Turnpike.
Forty years after Meadows left office, his nephew, Beckley attorney Paul Hutchinson, served in the state legislature. In 1989, Hutchinson helped draft the bond that secured funding for completion of the West Virginia Turnpike.
Hutchinson spoke after Council passed the resolution.
"I came before City Council a few months ago on behalf of Tom Sopher, whose idea this was," he said. "Now, I would like to say, on behalf of the family, thank you so much for passing this resolution.
"We think it's a beautiful thing, and we really should be proud of it."
Council also honored the local Naff family by changing "Cedar Street" between Neville and Prince streets to "Naff Lane." The late Richie Naff operated a car rental business there for around 50 years. Recently, the city, with help from citizen Vickie Webb, put a museum in the former Naff building, which fronts Naff Lane.
Members of the Naff family, including Richie's widow, Ruth Naff, thanked Council, saying that Richie Naff had "put his life's work" into the business and that the family was honored.
Councilwoman Janine Bullock (Ward V) suggested that Council support a resolution to name the Coalfields Expressway in honor of world-famous musician Bill Withers, who is from Slab Fork and lives in Raleigh County.
In other actions:
• Human Rights Commission Chairman Danielle Stewart recognized former Human Rights Commissioner Bob Baker, who had also served as chairman. Stewart said Baker was instrumental in helping to craft the original proposed LGBTQ ordinance in 2014 and again in 2018.
• Council approved on first reading an ordinance to turn 12 parking spaces on Prince Street, formerly reserved for Beckley Police Department, to paid parking. Under the proposed ordinance, six will be metered hourly and the following six will be rented monthly on a first-come, first-serve basis, city attorney Bill File said. Second reading and public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24 before Council.
• Council approved on first reading an ordinance to authorize paid parking on the upper level of the Beckley Intermodal Gateway (BIG) project. The second reading and public hearing is before Council on Sept. 24.
• Council passed on first reading an amendment to traffic control maps parking areas to prohibit parking on sections of Meadow Court, a street that comes off of Park Avenue, due to the narrow width of the street. Second reading and public hearing is set for Sept. 24 before Council.
• Council approved on first reading the placement of a stop sign at the intersection of Meadows Court and Watt Street. The public hearing and second reading is set for Sept. 24.
• Council resolved to approve three Governor's Highway Safety grants from the State Division of Motor Vehicles. Those grants are $438,220 for use on the Law Enforcement Liaison Project, $354,050 for the Southern Regional Highway Safety Program and $351,300 for the West Virginia Lifesaers and Data Tracking and Agency Support projects. The grants are routine, annual grants, Mayor Rob Rappold reported.
• City Code Enforcement Officer Bob Cannon read a notice that the manager of the Hampton Inn on Harper Park intends to apply for an ABCA Class B license.
• City treasurer Billie Trump reported that both the Policeman's Pension Fund ($23.6 million) and Fireman's Pension Fund ($19.2 million) are strong, with more than 65 percent in each fund comprised of stocks and the remainder by laddered bonds, which do not mature at the same time. Trump said each fund is paying out over a million dollars annually to the pensions but that the principal "keeps growing every year." The pensions are funded through employee contributions, city contributions, state contribution and investment income. Of those four, investment income is the largest, signifying a strong fund, he added.
• At-large Councilwoman Sherrie Hunter reminded citizens of the 9/11 remembrance service at Jim Word Memorial Park at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Councilman Kevin Price (Ward IV) said the annual Parade of Lights will start at Independence High School, with line up at 5 p.m. and the cavalcade at dusk. It will end in a special ceremony at Linda K. Epling Stadium. Fallen local first responders will be remembered.