POMEROY — Even before filling the vacancy left by the late Mary McAngus, and later being elected to the position, Pomeroy Mayor Jackie Welker knew that a leadership role in local government was what he wanted to achieve.
“It was sort of a natural progression,” he said, after moving from the position of president of council to mayor. “I was just wanting to continue to be involved.”
One of Welker’s first projects that he remembers was the task of razing six former properties that had been known for drug issues and were abandoned and condemned.
And one of Welker’s last projects was also one of this favorites — the new skate park located near Mechanic Street. The park officially opened Dec. 12, although it was completed Dec. 5, and is the work of Welker and Brewce Martin, among others. Official plans for the park began when Martin received the call from Pomeroy Mayor Jackie Welker earlier in 2015 about the project that progress has been made quickly. Welker said the grant for the skate park was around $30,000 and provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
After receiving the OK, Martin said he went down to the spot for the park — a spot of land near Pomeroy’s fire station and basketball court — and began to plan. Ground was first broken Oct. 13 of this year. Martin said that aside from drawing up plans and digging out the area for the park, the team had to put in the wooden transitions, set the rebar, or reinforcement bars, and pour what Martin described as “100 yards of concrete” over multiple days.
The skate park, which Martin and Welker hope to someday expand, has areas called transitions and two “bowls,” or pits, about the size of swimming pools to allow skaters to perform. One of the bowls has been aptly named “the peanut bowl.”
“I worked on the skate park for years and I hope Mayor-Elect (Bryan) Shank will continue to improve upon that Mechanic Street area,” Welker said. “We can see it as a nice big green area…(like a) central park for the town — walking path walkway, skateboard area, improving the basketball courts and playground equipment.”
Welker said he is also proud of the village for securing funds between FEMA and local county officials to make sure that there will be funding for renovations to the Pomeroy Levee, the main street river bank and street improvements. Specifically, the project will, aside from fixing the levee, create an intermittent dyke from the corner of the levee all the way to Nye Avenue.
“This will literally secure our river bank, our main street, all of it,” Welker said.
Overall, the project is estimated to cost about $1.7 million dollars, he said.
Other projects completed/continued under Welker include emergency generators, combined sewer replacement, water tower replacement with telemetry control, clean wells at the water treatment plant, additions to the lift station, red water filter/drinking water filter media replacement, lab supplies for the water and waste water treatment plants, spare pumps at the water treatment plant, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, street paving, storm sewer improvements and slip repairs.
Welker said as he looks ahead that much of his time will be devoted to his family and his business, Court Street Grill. However, while he will no longer serve Pomeroy on a mayoral level, his dedication to his village through other avenues will continue.
“Pomeroy always has had movers and shakers and I want to be a part of that,” he said. “I’m still part of different organizations, including the Blues and Jazz Society and Imagine Pomeroy. I feel like there’s a lot to accomplish here and I hope to be a vital part of it. I think town has made a lot of progress, and with all the money we’ve put into infrastructure it’s not going away. Storefronts are full with few exceptions, which is a very, very, very good sign.”
He gave thanks to council and village officials who have helped him along the way, and wished them luck in their future decisions.
“I have full confidence in the council that is in place, and they’ll continue to do good work,” he said.
Welker replaced McAngus in 2013 and will step down as mayor at the beginning of 2016, with Shank taking up the position beginning Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.