Page 5

The Putnam Standard

Community News

Valley Park Transforming

Thursday,November 29,2012 – Page 5

Velma’s View

By Justin Waybright

By Velma Kitchens

justin@theputnamstandard.com

HURRICANE - Traffic moves slower than usual past Valley Park. The massive transformation at the park’s entrance draws the attention of all who drive by it. Large excavators stretch into the sky, digging and dumping tons of earth. One crew wearing hard hats, hammers and drills metal together, forming a large barn-like structure. Another group smoothes out concrete on parking lots, toward the rear of the large construction site. Valley Park is getting a new facelift, and this one is unlike any park in the county. “This is going to be beautiful,” a worker says, walking near the entrance. For the past two months, crews have moved tons of dirt, poured gravel, smoothed sidewalks and built unique-looking buildings on this 5.6-acre property, near WV 34. The piece of land is one that Putnam County Parks and Recreation Director Scott Williamson is proud to have. Before any shovels touched dirt, a dream was birthed inside Williamson. He envisioned a place where residents could go to unwind and enjoy nature. Williamson pictured a farm-like atmosphere, complete with wildflowers, an apple orchard, a pond, and buildings that resembled barns and one-room school houses. “I want this park to have a natural feel to it,” he said. “I want people to come here to relax, take pictures, walk dogs and slow down to enjoy a day outside with family. Everybody needs a place to go to escape the stress from fast-paced lives, and just enjoy each other.” Williamson shared ideas for the vision he had with Terradon Corp. Workers drew up blueprints and passed them down to Pray Construction. Pray Construction then contracted the work to be done to make Williamson’s dream for Valley Park a reality. “They started in mid-August, and have made up a lot of ground in the past two weeks,” he said. “They have moved a lot of earth.” Workers from D.L. Martin Excavating dug and poured the dirt last week. Battling through the rain and snow of Hurricane Sandy, these men have kept on schedule. “We were ready for it, and we had a controlled runoff for the water,” said Rick Straton, a supervisor with D.L. Martin Excavating. “The biggest challenge has been to keep the mud away.” Williamson is pleased with what crews have accomplished.

Maryland

Excavators move dirt to shape the land at the entrance of Valley Park in Hurricane. Once the construction is finished, the area will have a rural, old-time, farm-like feel to it. Photo by Justin Waybright.

This is the new maintenance building at Valley Park. It is constructed to resemble a barn. The details surrounding the design of the landscaping and buildings are constructed to create a farm-like atmosphere. Photo by Justin Waybright. “Most of the heavy lifting is pretty well done,” he said. “Now, we just need to touch things up.” The county hopes to have this project completed by mid-January, weather contingent. To finish, crews must still build corral-like fencing around the site, with elaborate stone work. They will have to finish paving and landscaping throughout the land. This project is being funded by the county’s Tax Increment Financing or T.I.F. Fund. This fund relates to the difference in the amount of property taxes a person paid in 2004, to what they pay yearly after that. The difference in the amount of increase from 2004, annually goes into the TIF Fund. Putnam County Administrator Brian Donat explained how this account works. “As property values increase, taxes increase, and the difference goes into a special fund,” Donat said. “The taxes paid, accumulate funds for projects you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.” For example, if a family paid $400 in property taxes in 2004, but paid $450 in 2005; the extra $50 would go into the TIF Fund. The same rule applies every year, based off 2004. In the past, money from this

account went toward the repair of local sewer lines. In taking the funds from the TIF account, the county did not have to raise rates on utility customers, to fund that particular project. “The TIF account is very beneficial,” Donat said. “It helps fund improvements to infrastructure, which helps bring in business.” Donat explained, “…Just because Putnam County residents are in a TIF district, doesn’t mean that their property taxes will go up. Property taxes are the same whether someone is in a TIF district or not.” Williamson is also pleased with the way this special project is financed. “It is not costing the taxpayer anymore,” he said. Both men anticipate the completion of Valley Park. “We’re excited and, this is moving right along,” said Donat. Williamson looked toward the construction site with a smile. “I’ve watched this go from farmland, to forest, to what it is now,” he said. “Now, people can come in and stay, and look at the quality of life we can provide in our parks,” Williamson continued, “This is giving us a bigger presence in Putnam County.”

We lived in Maryland when I was in first grade and my sister in third grade. We would walk to school each day through a cemetery. All the other kids walked as well and we had a good time. I had a mean teacher in Maryland. I can’t even remember her name, no wonder. I guess when you are with a lot of six-year-olds it could make you mean. Each morning she would give us a coloring page to color. I did not want to color the first thing in the mornings. The page had twelve squares and a small picture in the square. One morning I was just not feeling the coloring for the day. I took a purple crayon and colored each picture very messy and sat there until the papers were turned in. I forgot all about my coloring until the next morning. Here comes Miss what's-her-name. She said, “You sure pulled a good one yesterday. Now color each one differently today.” Well, I did exactly as she said because I knew if I got in trouble at school, I would be in trouble at home. Anyway, I didn’t have any more trouble with Miss what'sher-name We lived in an apartment building, I believe on the third floor. The playground was across the street and all of us kids would gather and play. One older boy told us to go ring the doorbell of the lady who lived on the first floor of our apartment building, then run back across the street before she got to the door. I can’t remember her name either, but she was tall and big and had black hair. She didn’t like kids, looking back – no wonder – we were not exactly good to her by ringing her doorbell. She would come to the door and start yelling. She would stop and someone else would go ring the bell. My Mom caught me once and I never, ever rang her doorbell again. I do recall a girl was found dead in the cemetery where we took the shortcut to school. So we were never allowed to walk through the cemetery to school again. My sister and I would walk a few blocks to a small grocery store and buy things for my Mom and we would buy candy. We asked the man there for a poke to put our candy in and he didn't know what a poke was. He asked if wanted a bag and we said yes. We learned that people in Maryland didn’t know what a poke was. Maryland was a fun time and we had lots of adventures there. One evening my sister and I were coming home from the store and this big, tall man in a trench coat was following us. It was getting dark and we were a little afraid. We started walking fast and he started walking fast also. My sister could run really a fast and I was afraid she was going to leave me behind. We turned onto our street and the man in the trench coat disappeared. We always wondered if perhaps he was trying to kidnap us. We will never know, but I am glad I didn’t have to kick him.

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