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Kingwood Council votes to condemn Herring Building

KINGWOOD — Kingwood Council voted to put the old Herring building on its condemnation list. Only Dick Shaffer voted against the move.

Since its construction in 1914, the historic Herring Building at 101 S. Price St. has seen many occupants and many changes. Now 107 years later, it has been placed on the city’s condemnation list.

The building, which was constructed on the site of the old John H. Brown store, opened as the Herring Store Aug. 1, 1914. The cost of the construction was $20,000, according to W. G. Williams’ book, “Indians and the First 150 Years.”

According to Williams, the two upper floors were damaged by fire Jan. 16, 1921. Water to put out the fire was carried by buckets from the Kingwood Well.

In 1934, Dr. Wayne Schwab opened his pharmacy on one side of the building and the Half Price store used the other store room. In September 1947, the the A&P Store moved into the room previously occupied by the drug store.

In 1965, a Western Auto Store opened in the smaller room after the A&P moved out. In 1972, James Mauro bought Schwab’s Drug Store. Dr. P. E. Kercheval had his dental office on the second floor of the building and Haymond Garner’s photo shop was also on that floor. The third floor housed The Lodge Hall.

It was sold at public auction in October of 1916.

In other business, council members discussed putting a COVID policy in place for city workers. Mayor Jean Guillot said the policy should be a uniform one for all city departments, including the library, the pool and the city police.

“I think COVID test results should come back to the office, too,” he said. “I think the employees should be paid if they are quarantined. We need to do our best to keep people safe and keep the city running.” City Clerk Michelle Whetsell suggested looking at policies used by other towns to see what they are doing.

Clerks Amy DeBerry and Whetsell said they would work on a policy and present it at the next meeting.

Tiffany Osman, financial advisor from Equitable in Morgantown, explained the 457 retirement plan. She said the 457 plan is the company’s version of a 401(k).

“It’s an extra retirement plan employees can deposit money into,” she said. “The amount they put in is up to them. There is no charge to the employee or the city for the service.”

DeBerry said a similar company, Empowerment, is used by two of the city’s employees. She said she recently sent out information about the Empowerment plan and received no responses.

Whetsell said she would send out a letter to all of the employees and see if any of them were interested.

Council members approved a request for $5,000 made by Councilwoman Karen Kurilko.

“I’ve noticed other counties have nice veteran memorials,” she said. “The courthouse has a few things, but I would like to approve $5,000 to have someone design a nice park.”

Kurilko suggested possibly using the old Mary’s Restaurant site on Price Street, but Robertson said it was a small area and he didn’t like the drop-off behind it. Guillot suggested waiting until the city was able to remove the Sweet Annie’s building. He said that would provide two lots for the memorial park.

Council voted unanimously to approve the $5,000 request.

Robbie Baylor, executive director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority; Kristy Ash, executive director of the Preston County Chamber of Commerce; and council members Tina Turner, Karen Kurilko and Josh Fields will make up a small business committee that will help determine how the $50,000 council set aside from its American Rescue Plan Act funds will be spent. The committee will evaluate the information provided them by local small businesses and make recommendations for the allocation of the funds.

The next meeting of the Kingwood City Council will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 26.

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