Marlinton eliminates police officer position
Marlinton just lost its town police officer and won't be getting another.
Joshua Vaughan, of Hillsboro, started duty as town officer in September 2009, but recently departed for a job with the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department.
After Vaughan's resignation, Marlinton's police committee, which includes councilmembers Joe Smith, Norris Long and Loretta Malcomb, convened to develop a recommendation, which it presented at the council's regular meeting on March 10.
Smith, chairman of the police committee, read the recommendations, which were to eliminate the town officer position; continue utilizing the West Virginia State Police for the town's law enforcement needs and use the mayor's authority to issue "domestic citations."
The council followed the committee's recommendations and voted 6-0 to eliminate the position of town officer. On a separate motion, the council voted 6-0 to continue contracting with the West Virginia State Police for the town's law enforcement.
Smith said the mayor could supplement the police by issuing "domestic citations."
"We decided to work with and encourage you, the mayor, to exercise your authority
in issuing domestic citations," he said. "We're using that term 'domestic citation' because it refers to junk cars, unkempt lots and things like that. Things for which you have the authority."
Driscoll said he would check with town attorney Martin Saffer to determine the extent of his authority to issue those citations.
The council will have all evidence in the town police department inventoried by the prosecuting attorney's office and seek a court order to destroy or auction the evidence items.
The police committee recommended the town keep its municipal judge, but with a reduced caseload and compensation.
"We felt like we needed to keep him intact for vacant lots and things like that," Smith said.
Driscoll said he would discuss the issue with municipal judge Dick Groseclose.
By a 4-2 vote, the council disapproved a proposal by councilmember Norris Long to transfer the town police vehicle to the mayor for town business. A town vehicle, formerly used by the mayor, is being used at the water plant.
The council gave itself more oversight authority on construction projects and voted 6-0 to require council approval for all change orders submitted by contractors. Change orders are significant additions or modifications to contract work. In the past, the mayor approved change orders.
The council also assumed more budgetary oversight by voting 6-0 to decrease the amount the mayor can spend, without council approval, from $10,000 to $1,000.
Driscoll said the council would have to convene an emergency meeting in the event of an emergency repair costing more than $1,000, but said he foresaw no major problems with doing so.
During the mayor's report, Driscoll informed the council that the wastewater treatment plant / stormwater drainage project is nearly complete. The mayor said the only items remaining to be completed are new wiring at the wastewater plant and installation of a new aerator in the sewage pond.
The mayor informed the council of a renewable energy grant being made available by Region IV Planning and Development Council. The amount of grant money will depend on the number of municipalities that apply for the grant, he said. The grant can be used to upgrade energy efficiency and implement renewable energy at town buildings and facilities.
Gail Hyer gave the council a presentation on GoMarlinton, a group formed in 2009 to increase tourism in Marlinton. The group includes shop owners, civic groups and businesses that want Marlinton to prosper economically.
GoMarlinton's goal is to make tourists and vacationers aware of the town's attractions. The group's plans include construction of a new, larger tourist map at the old People's Store lot and an advertising campaign.
The tourist map will be paid for by private donations of $1,300. The advertising campaign will be funded by a state tourism grant of $7,394 and private matching donations of $2,000.
The council praised GoMarlinton's effort and voted 6-0 to provide an additional $464.75 in matching funds to obtain the tourism grant. The council also voted unanimously to serve as fiscal agent for the grant.
The council discussed implementation of an emergency notification service provided by Code Red, a Florida company. The service would provide rapid telephonic alert to town residents in the event of impending flood, water advisories or other emergency.
The council decided to wait until its next meeting to take action on the Code Red system. By then, the council will know if the county commission is allocating money to implement the service at the county level.
Artist Molly Must presented a slideshow briefing to the council, showing examples of her urban murals in Philadelphia and Asheville, North Carolina. Must, a student at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, plans to paint a mural on the side of the brick building at the corner of Main Street and First Avenue.
The mural will be painted on private property, but the project is supported by the Pocahontas County Dramas, Fairs and Festivals board.
Must said she was planning an historic theme for the mural, including early settlement, logging, agriculture and trains.
The council conducted the first reading of an updated floodplain ordinance for the town. The reading was done by title only. The mayor invited anyone interested in reading the new ordinance to visit building inspector Dick Groseclose's office in the municipal building between the hours of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
By a 4-2 vote, the council disapproved a letter, prepared by Long, in response to a state Board of Risk inquiry regarding safety issues in the municipal building. A committee consisting of Long, councilmember David Zorn and recorder Robin Mutscheller will meet to prepare a new response letter for council approval.
In other business, the council:
- paid a drawdown payment of $33,150 to Hannah Engineering for work on the wastewater treatment plant / stormwater drainage project.
- heard a complaint from Natasha McMann about snowplow damage to her lawn.