New Martinsville's new mayor, Keith Nelsen, as well as two of the three new councilwomen were sworn into office during a special meeting Monday night. Their terms will begin July 1.
Councilwomen Linda Barth, First Ward, and Iris "Deaner" Isaacs, Sixth Ward, were at the meeting. However, Doris Fannin, Fifth Ward, was unable to attend as she is still recovering from surgery. However Recorder Bonnie Shannon said Fannin is doing well, just not able to be too active yet.
While outgoing Mayor Lucille Blum was not in attendance at the meeting, Water and Sewer Board Vice-Chair George Friedline had a plaque to present to her for her service, wisdom, and compassion. The plaque included an original certificate of 100 shares of stock in Quality Chevrolet.
From left, New Martinsville’s new mayor, Keith Nelsen, and councilwomen Iris “Deaner” Isaacs and Linda Barth were sworn into office during a special meeting Monday night. Their terms will begin July 1. (Photo by Amy Witschey)
At the regular council meeting on June 4, Blum said, "I truly enjoyed the work that I've been able to see. I am very proud of my community." However she added, "I think it is time for me to be the observer now. I plan to be ever present at the council meetings."
The outgoing councilpersons are Casey Corliss, Sixth Ward; Joel Potts, Fifth Ward; and Holly Grandstaff, First Ward. They were honored with a cake reception after the special meeting Monday.
Grandstaff said at the regular council meeting, "I would like to say that I've really enjoyed this experience."
Potts pointed out that he didn't leave the council willingly; he lost the election to Fannin. However, he said, "The last month has made me thrilled to be going. I am glad to be going with the others."
All of the outgoing councilmembers praised various department heads for the city. "I think you're one of the nicest guys we've ever had," said Corliss of Police Chief Tin Cecil. Electric Department Chairman David White was praised for his knowledge and the sharing of it. Street Commissioner Gary Willey was described as "always accessible." Fire Chief Larry Couch was told he runs a fine department. And Parks and Recreation Director Bev Gibb was described as a visionary.
Council also approved additional four-year terms on the civil service board for Bill Hornbrook, the mayor's appointment, and Steve Hunt, the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce's appointment.
In other matters at the special meeting, council adopted a revised CDO (compensatory days off) agreement policy. The policy was the matter of much discussion at the regular June meeting and a policy was approved during a special meeting held June 11. This revised policy was also approved unanimously and without opposition.
There are some questions as to if CDO time can be carried over from year to year. The city currently allows employees to build up CDO time, up to 240 hours from 160 hours of overtime at time-and-a-half. It can either be used for time off or cashed out as overtime pay.
West Virginia law prohibits the carryover of CDO from year to year. However, White maintains that since 80 percent of the city's employees are covered by federal law, then they are exempt from the state law. Federal law allows the carryover.
The only discussion Monday came when Councilman Chris Bachman questioned why the city is taking action on the matter when the federal government could come in and say the current policy is wrong.
"Everyone knows there's a chance that the feds will say something different," pointed out Shannon.
However, the city wants to have an agreement in place in case the federal government seeks something in writing. Bachman wondered why the city doesn't call the federal government and ask for an opinion.
"I don't think we want to involve the federal government if we don't have to," said Nelsen.
Finally, council approved the electric department's budget for the coming year. The bottom line was mostly the same as last year. The only significant increase in costs was for benefits, but that raise was balanced by some reductions in other line items.