MAN — After nearly 16 years, the town of Man has a new mayor.
The Man Town Council convened in special session on Feb. 23, where they accepted the resignation of Jim Blevins, who had served as the town’s mayor since 2007. In his place, council voted to appoint councilman John Fekete as mayor, while Blevins was appointed to the Fekete’s council seat.
Fekete, who had served as a councilman just as long as Blevins did mayor, officiated over his first regular town council meeting Monday evening, where he addressed several agenda items he said he has long wanted to pursue.
“I had a whole list of things that I have always wanted to work on,” Fekete said, “and now that I’m, you know, in charge, or the mayor, I’m ready to act on them. I mean, I’ve just had a lot of things on my plate that I’ve had a lot of time to think about and I think I’ve got a good opportunity to make some good things happen.”
One of those, he said, is coordinating with the West Virginia Division of Highways to address drainage problems in South Man.
“They’ve assured us that they’re going to come and help us with those in the near future — I mean, here in the next week or two,” Fekete said. “They’re going to be on site working on them. We’ve got one really bad drain on West Third Ave. that shoot, there’s holes in the road and they’re sending their heavy equipment crews up to work on it very shortly.”
During Monday’s meeting, council approved a proposal by Fekete to remove all parking meters in town. In their place will be a two-hour parking limit in town parking spaces.
Fekete’s reasoning for wanting to remove the parking meters, he explained, was to try to entice extra business in town.
“I hate the thought that a person would not come into town or stop to visit a shop because they didn’t have a quarter or, you know, they didn’t want to spend a quarter,” Fekete said, “so, I think that’ll help more people want to come into town. We’re going to get all our lines for our parking spaces painted, get our curbs painted, try to find a professional come in and do that. That’ll make the main street and the side streets look a little bit better.”
Council also approved requests by Fekete to hire two part-time street department employees and two part-time police officers. He said the focus of the street department workers will be cleaning up curbs and sidewalks in South Man over the next two months.
Fekete said the town will also be applying for a grant from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority to hire an engineer to help design and plan a community park in the old Man pool location.
“I’m thinking stuff like a small amphitheater where you could have little concerts, a pickle ball court, basketball court,” Fekete said. “You’re right on the river, I’m thinking you could have a kayak/boat launch right there. You could fix the riverbank up nice where you could have a fishing area. That property’s a diamond in the rough. It’s got a lot of potential.”
Fekete thanked his predecessor Blevins, crediting him with running the town in a financially responsible manner and pursuing extra revenue sources.
“Jim’s been there for almost 16 years and man, he done a good job,” Fekete said. “He ran that place on a shoestring budget. Our B&O tax for the last 14 years was one of the lowest B&Os in the state and Jim made it work. He kept the town going the best he could with what he had to work with. About two and a half to three years ago, the council and the mayor decided to raise B&O tax. We also annexed a few more businesses over in the Mountain Mart Village area, which really has helped the town. Jim also worked hard to get the town in the Home Rule program and that has really took us to the next level. I think the Town of Man’s got a bright future because of him.”
Fekete is a lifelong resident of the general Man area, growing up a few miles up the road from the town at Amherstdale. He graduated from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation in 2000 and has served as deputy director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System for the past 16 years.
Fekete is a declared candidate for mayor in the upcoming Town of Man municipal election in June. The Logan Banner will feature profiles on all mayor and council candidates as the election draws closer.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Man Town Council is scheduled to be held at 5 p.m. Monday, March 13.