Howell hired as Sistersville Police Chief
The Sistersville City Council unanimously approved the hiring of Dave Howell for the position of police chief.
Howell, a former patrolman for the city, will take on his duties effective Feb. 2. bringing the police department to full capacity.
In addition to the chief, the city staffs three full time officers, Ptl. M.A. Corley, Ptl. Alex Northcraft and Cpl. Joseph Richardson, as well as two part time officers.
In other business, the council entertained the re-adoption of an ordinance ‘authorizing the increase in rates paid for municipal sewer service; paying costs in connection and adopting other provisions thereto’.
Prior to voting on the matter, a public hearing was held to hear the concerns of the citizens. Sistersville resident Danny Heintzman responded by saying, “In the last six months the economy has gone in the tank. We were told the water and sewer was going to have to go up. A lot of people understand that but there are a lot of people who cannot afford it.”
“Where will the people who live on a fixed income and are paying high heating bills come up with the money for another $100 for water and sewer?” he asked.
Heintzman’s suggestion was to cut something else from the city’s budget to compensate for the water and sewer instead of passing the buck to the residents. “Do we really needs six cops? Do we still need the ferryboat going across the river? Is it possible to sell the hospital?” he asked. “You need to think!”
Councilman Doug Williams addressed Heintzman’s questions by explaining the budget. “You have to realize that the water budget and the sewer budget are separate. We can’t cut the hospital or sell it to support the water. We can’t fire cops or lay off cops to pay for water,” he said. “They are all separate budgets and they have to stand on their own. The less people who live in town, the more we have to pay. If you have a thousand people, it’s divided by a thousand. If there are 500 people, it’s divided by 500. The whole cost is there no matter how many people are in town.”
He went on to explain that the rates were up to date according to the plan developed six years ago and that the rates had gone without adjustment for years prior to the plan. Williams said, “The city even refinanced to help lower the rate. and those rates ran out. Now it’s time to re-up. It’s just like a new contract. Nobody likes it but everybody has to pay it if they want city water.”
In the council’s discussion of the ordinance, it was asked why the council was entertaining a re-adoption.
City Recorder Dianna Mace said, “We have to do the reading again and basically readopt the ordinance as we did in August. There are no changes to it.”
City Attorney Ryan Morgan explained further, “The publication that was put in the newspaper the first time around did not include the new rates.”
After the explanation, the ordinance was re-adopted by the council.
Harold Dally brought up the issue of trailers in regards to zoning ordinances. “Instead of changing the zoning ordinance, we (the planning commission) thought it would be better to develop a separate ordinance to locate trailers where they exist now instead of allowing people to move trailers in on any vacant lot in town.”
“There’s going to be a lot of vacant lots around town in the coming years. There are vacant lots on Country Club Heights, McCoy Heights, Cemetery Hill, Route 2…and I don’t think that a lot of neighborhoods want trailers put in. They could move a 20 year old trailer in and I am sure that would be a devaluation of property if they would move a trailer up on Country Club Heights.”
Mayor Fox clarified, “So what you are saying is let them go where they exist now and do not allow them to put a trailer on a vacant lot where there has never been one.”
Dally replied, “Right.”
Marianne Hughes presented a proclamation to the council on behalf of ArtsLink declaring the month of February are ‘Big Read Month’. She urged the council to take part in the organization’s pet project and read Jack London’s classic, The Call of the Wild.