By Maralisa Marra
With no opposition, Shinnston City Council approved a new arts and culture committee, the Shinnston Arts Authority, coordinated by Maria Cusack and Brendan Gallagher, during the Aug. 8 Council meeting.
Gallagher said, “We have so many things in place [in reference to the arts in Shinnston]. Now what we need is a guiding force for that to make sure that as things are created in town, murals are placed, and things like that, there is quality control.”
The members of the committee consist of Cusack, Gallagher, Bethany Nuzum, Maralisa Marra, Wesley Benson, and Olivia Davis. There will also be a senior art student from Lincoln High to represent the youth.
According to Gallagher, the committee is representative of both performing and visual arts.
Councilmember Bill Watson made a motion to approve the committee, and Vice Mayor Maryann Ferris seconded the motion.
Mayor Rodney Strait, alongside other city officials, City Manager Chad Edwards, City Clerk Kathleen Panek, and Councilmember Julia Currey attended the West Virginia Municipal League Conference on Aug. 2-5 in Morgantown, reported Strait.
“It was great fun, and it was very informative,” Currey said in reference to the conference. “It was really well worth our time.”
In other matters, Councilmember Patrick Kovalck discussed high hopes for a new city hall. Kovalck said he is mainly interested in creating an affordable, functional city hall building for multi use purposes for Council and city officials to best serve the city.
“Seriously, I’m all for a new building—something we can be proud of, something we can actually have council chambers in. We can double the council chambers as a courtroom for the city judge. A conference room where we can meet with engineers and delegates,” Kovalck said.
“I’m not asking to spend a million dollars by no means. I’m saying for half a million dollars, I think we could build a building suitable for what Shinnston needs without breaking the bank,” Kovalck also said.
He also mentioned adding on to the existing city building. Whichever route of action is taken, he said he is in support of the project because Shinnston residents deserve to be proud of their city building.
Kovalck suggested Lee Reger Builds to take on the project, “They’re in our town. They pay our taxes. I know we have to bid it out, but I think we ought to go to companies like that.”
West Virginia law requires cities, when soliciting bids for construction project contracts exceeding $25,000, to choose the lowest, qualified bidder.
Strait said, in reference to Kovalck’s ideas, “I think what we need to do is really think about this and come back the next work session with more ideas and look at what we want and what we need.”
This reporter is a member of the aforementioned arts and culture committee.