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Huntington mayor reaches out to Marshall students

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For The State Journal

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is reaching out to Marshall University students by scheduling monthly visits to the campus to meet with students and hear what they have to say.

The next monthly session for "Coffee with the Mayor" is set from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24 outside on the plaza at the Memorial Student Center. The visit will include a quoits game between Williams and Marshall University President Stephen Kopp. Similar to horseshoes, quoits is played frequently on the Marshall campus. It's said to have been the favorite game of the school's namesake, Chief Justice John Marshall.

The "Coffee with the Mayor" sessions, co-sponsored by Marshall's Student Government Association, allow people to discuss issues with the mayor in an informal setting.

"The idea is to let all stakeholders at Marshall know that I am their mayor and that I am always approachable," Williams said. "City Hall isn't just a building at the corner of 5th Avenue and 8th Street. I want there to be a consistent presence of city government on campus."

In addition to listening to concerns and answering questions, Williams said he has three main objectives with the sessions: Let students know that they are valued citizens in the city; show them that staying in Huntington after graduation is a viable option; and, if they have to leave upon graduation, help them develop a love for Huntington so strong that they can't wait to return.

Williams began the meetings last year and resumed them this year with visits in February and March.

"I believe that holding ‘Coffee with the Mayor' for a second consecutive year exemplifies the already strong partnership between Marshall University and the City of Huntington," Marshall Student Body President EJ Hassan said. "The Student Government Association is very proud to be a part of this partnership, and we look forward to the opportunity of keeping students engaged with their city officials as well as student representatives."

The concerns voiced by students at the sessions have ranged from campus security to potholes and street flooding.

In response to concerns about campus security, the city is partnering with the university and Appalachian Power to add additional streetlights and improve existing lights in the university area.

The project includes the installation of 21 new street lights on 5th Avenue (14th to 20th streets), 3rd Avenue (Hal Greer Boulevard to 20th Street), Hal Greer Boulevard (3rd to 5th avenues) and 14th and 15th streets (3rd to 6th avenues). At the same time, all existing streetlight bulbs are being upgraded from 250 watts to 400 watts.

The city's Street Division also has trimmed back two trees and removed three other trees that were obstructing lighting at night in a few key areas. There also will be an aesthetic improvement made on 20th Street between 3rd and 5th avenues as Appalachian Power replaces 14 rusty, steel streetlight poles with new poles.