The Sistersville City Council begrudgingly accepted the resignation of Police Chief David Howell on Monday evening.
City Recorder Diana Mace read Howell's letter into the minutes. "As of Jan. 30, 2011, I asked that my status as an employee of Sistersville be changed form full-time to part-time, as I have taken a position with the New Martinsville Police Department...It has been an honor to serve the mayor, the council and the citizens of Sistersville."
Howell's resignation, as well as those of other officers in recent months, has prompted the City of Sistersville to reevaluate the benefits and incentives offered to employees. Mayor Dave Fox spoke to the importance of the issue, "There is not one officer here that was here when I became mayor. They just keep leaving. I assure you if the pay and retirement was decent enough, they would be perfectly happy here. They are out to better themselves and their families."
Councilman Curtis Heintzman reported that he has been looking into the possibility of enrolling in the state's retirement program in the hope that this incentive would curb the turnover in the police department.
Fox added, "What we end up paying in overtime and sending them to the Police Academy, we would break even with a pay raise and offering state retirement. We are crazy not to do that."
Eventually, the City would like to offer the same type of incentive all all of their employees.
Allan Maxwell commented, "The idea is to figure out a way to do this without charging the residents more than they are already paying."
Fox said, "This won't cost them a dime. It will simply be moving and shifting money."
The Council will continue to investigate their options and the issue will be brought back to the table in February.
In light of the new vacancy on Sistersville's Police Force, the City will be accepting applications and resumes.
Charles Winslow, owner of the Wells Inn, was on hand to request the City's support in reopening the Wooden Derrick pub on the hotel grounds. Winslow said he had the blessing of the Presbyterian Church. The question was posed that the City may require a zoning waiver for the operation of the pub, however, City Attorney Ryan Morgan stated this was only if gaming machines were going to be placed inside of the establishment.
Winslow stated, "I will not have gambling machines in that hotel. I do not believe in them and I'm not going to have them."
"We are looking forward to you getting everything open," Fox said.
Winslow said the Wooden Derrick will be open as soon as the paperwork is approved by the state. The restaurant has been approved by the health department and a section of it (the former Black Gold room) will be open later this month.
"Starting in the next few weeks, hopefully, we will have breakfast and lunch available," Winslow said.
In celebration of the opening, Winslow is planning a dinner on Jan. 14 in conjunction with the Blue Maggie concert at the Gas Light Theater.
The bluegrass band is scheduled to play at 6 p.m. and advance tickets are available.
"You have our blessing," Fox concluded.
Mayor Fox reported that the coordinators for the Tyler County "Relay for Life" have requested to hold the 2011 event at Sistersville City Park. The council as a whole voted to pre-approve the request, hoping the event would bring people into the community.
Tom Gray attended Monday's meeting to seek the approval of the Council for the erection of a sign at the north end of town similar to the one near the marina in New Martinsville. Gray said his hope is that the area churches will offer their financial support. "I'd like to get with the area churches and make it a universal sign," he said. "Additional signs could be on their as well."
Gray also noted another project he has in the works which he feels would bring people into Sistersville. But first, he would like to improve the aesthetic appeal of the town. "We are trying to clean the town up and I know we don't want empty houses next to our houses because of mice, bats...this house is up by the Spirit Park."
Gray was successful in getting a dilapidated structure torn down in the previously, but said he has one last house on his "hit" list. "...if I could get this one down, I would be good to go. I'm not pointing fingers. My (house) needs addressed. I need siding. I need windows. I plan on trying to do that. This one is abandoned."
Mayor Fox interjected, "It's been abandoned for many years."
Gray continued, "If they want to fix it up and make it look nice, that's great! If not, then I'd like to have this addressed."
In other business, the council reviewed their legal services agreement for counsel. Fox informed the council, "For the first time we have two attorneys interested: Dean Rohrig and Ryan Morgan."
Morgan stated, "I think you should go with Dean."
Since Morgan moved to Charleston, he said it was difficult for him to give the City of Sistersville the attention they deserve. With his recommendation, the council moved to retain Rohrig.
Councilman Dave Dietrich said, "We appreciate everything you've done for us (Ryan)."
Under committee reports, the Council voted to approve the payment of the bills for November and December 2010. The total accounts payable for the two-month period was $892,436.89, with payroll at $557,831.94.
The city bills for two-month period totaled $91,607.06. Councilman Heintzman noted that a few of the high dollar items purchased in the billing period were items for which the City of Sistersville will be reimbursed through grant funds procured through the state and various other programs. This includes laptops purchased for the police department and other items for the city crew.
In announcements, Councilman Vance Ash and Councilman Richard Long informed the council that a Youth Basketball tournament has been slated for Jan. 24 through Feb. 6 at the Willison Family Center.
The next regular meeting of the Sistersville City Council will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 14 at the City Building.