BY AMY WITSCHEY
For the Tyler Star News
In the wake of several resignations in the City of Sistersville, city council met for their regularly schedule meeting Monday evening.
Council voted to approve the resignations of Vance Ash, city commissioner; Dean Rohrig, city attorney; Curtis Heintzman, councilmember; Diana Mace, city recorder; and Julie Schleier, councilmember. Only Councilman Bill Rice opposed the action. Heintzman, representing the First Ward, was in attendance Monday night, but it will be his last meeting as a councilman.
While no reasons were given from Mayor Dave Fox or council for the resignations, Rice asked that Mace's letter of resignation be read in the meeting before a standing-room-only crowd of about 20 people.
Mace cited a "hostile environment" that had been "quite unfair and harsh." She said "retaliation since the July meeting had been unfair and intolerable". Further citing the working conditions, Mace said she has been under so much stress that she has had health-related issues.
The letter said not all of the council members have been involved in the situation she outlined, and thanked the one councilman who tried to address the problems.
Further, Mace said after her office was transferred to a different room, her request for new door locks and keys were not addressed.
This, she said, meant employee records are not secure.
Finally, she listed her remaining hours of vacation, sick, and compensatory time.
Council then went into an hour-long executive session for personnel matters.
Back in open session, Councilman Heintzman made several motions on personnel issues that were all approved:
-to do as council has for past employees to pay Mace for 4.5 vacation days and 66.25 hours of compensatory time
-to hire Julie Schleier as recorder and Ron Crowe as city commissioner, both full-time jobs, on a temporary basis until the city has time to post the openings and go over resumes.
Their salaries are $28,000 and $25,000, respectively, with insurance. Rice wondered if the positions could be filled without advertising them. Fox answered that the West Virginia Ethics Commission and Municipal League said the city could do so as it is an emergency situation.
-to hire Valerie Northcraft as the full-time billing clerk on a permanent basis at $8 per hour. Previously the city had two part-time clerks, Kathy Klages and Patricia Soliday. They resigned last week, but council does not need to formally accept resignations of part-time employees.
-to give Chief of Police Ben Placer a one-time raise of $4,800 per year in lieu of compensatory time, which "evens him out with everyone else"
-to give the rest of the police officers a 50-cents per hour raise
-to instate Police Officer Steve Robinson's insurance through the city as he has completed his probationary period
-to give Russell Weekley a $1 per hour raise
-to raise the pay of Senior Deckhand Bill Schleier to $8 per hour
Mayor Fox will appoint Colin Marrin to represent the Fourth Ward on council, filling the seat vacated by Schleier.
It will be put it on the agenda to swear Marrin into the position at the next meeting.
Council also voted to allow the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department to spend up to $1,200 for two radios. The department has sufficient funding in their account.
"They bought two before and they need two more," said Mayor Fox.
Councilperson Ann Doig said the Ethics Commission has approved the purchase of a lot for $8,000 in Hanford City to be used in the Hanford City sewer project.
Heintzman made a motion to forward the paperwork to Rohrig, which was approved unanimously.
Tim Meeks of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council presented a resolution, which council passed unanimously, to authorize Fox to sign on behalf of city for any and all planning, design, and construction of the Hanford City project.
Council also approved requests by the West Virginia Oil & Gas Festival and Marble Festival for the same concessions as usual in regards to street closure, trash pick up, police assistance, and park usage.
The Oil and Gas Festival will be held Sept. 13-15 and the Marble Festival will be Sept. 28-30.
Fox announced that the city pool is now closed except for parties by appointment.
Council also approved the appointment of Beverly Henderson to the Library Board. She will fulfill the term vacated by Camilla Miller who left the area.