ASHLAND -- An Amtrak project aimed at improving the railroad station platform in Ashland still has no start date announced, and town officials have received no word on when the project might begin.
With Train Day less six weeks away, it’s still unclear if the construction will disrupt plans for the event that attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Last week, Mike Jennings, director of Public Works, told Ashland Town Council members that he had received no word from Amtrak regarding the upcoming project regarding start dates.
“We are still waiting to receive a construction schedule and a work plan from Amtrak’s contractor,” Jennings said.
Council member Kathy Abbott said it might be better for construction to begin after the Nov. 2 scheduled event, but acknowledged the project will impact the event either this year or next.
“My view is it’s going to disrupt Train Day, whether it’s this year or the next year; so we’ll just have to roll with the punches,” Abbott said. “My view is that it would be better if things haven’t progressed very far if it happened now.”
Jennings also updated council on the Trolley Line Trail. “Unfortunately, that has snagged . . . because we ran into a construction issue with the drainage component of that project,” he said. “We have met with Timmons and we are working with them on a redesign. That project is at a standstill right now.”
The original design for construction allowed drainage to run on the walkway. “We also thought there might be an erosion problem,” Jennings said.
He said the delay in the Trolley project allowed contractors to immediately address a sewer line problem on North Snead Street that required immediate attention. Council approved $54,000 to correct that problem and work should begin almost immediately.
In early 2018, council approved a wellness program that encourages employees to maintain healthy lifestyles and rewards those who engage in healthy activities and events.
Town Manager Joshua Farrar presented an update to council on the initial year of the program.
“I think it’s largely been very successful,” Farrar said. “Now that we have seen the review, we are going to encourage more participation amongst our employees,” the town manager said. “We’ve genuinely tried to incentivize people to make the right decisions.”
Once employees complete a tier of the wellness guide, they are compensated with cash. Council approved about $25,000 for the initial year of the program and just short of $20,000 was actually used in FY 2018-2019.
Twenty-nine employees from a pool of about 64 full-time workers utilized the program that included activities like running, walking soccer, biking, hiking, skating and canoeing.
Employees get points for having annual physical checkups. “We know that is a preventative measure,” Farrar said. “The better health someone is in, the better employee they are.”
In other matters, Farrar told council that the Hanover Review, a quarterly newsletter published by Hanover County, will now include four pages exclusively of Ashland news.
“We are going to have four pages dedicated to the town,” Farrar said. “We want to get out public information and we are going to use this the best we can.”
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