PCDA continues in spite of resignations
Though the mission of the Paden City Development Authority is to encourage and bolster economic growth within the community, high drama, and flaring tempers dominated Monday’s meeting agenda.
By the end of the two-hour meeting resignations had been tendered, including that of President Ken Stead, leaving vacancies on the board and multiple issues unresolved.
Prior to the fireworks, an attempt was made to follow the agenda as minutes from the previous meeting were read aloud, dissected, checked for grammar, and corrected before they were accepted into record.
PCDA Treasurer Charlie Racer stated that a copy of the check registers will be included in the meeting packages from now on.
Racer reported the total income for January was $10,474; total expenses were $16,718; leaving a deficit of $6,244.
Stead read a resignation letter from PCDA Secretary Chris Bowen. Eileen Smittle questioned the motion, “I think Chris did a good job…”
Stead interjected, “I think she did an excellent job. That’s not the issue here. She wanted to quit and she quit.”
Smittle replied, “She didn’t have a chance to do the job.”
Bowen added, “I’ve got some personal issues that need my attention.”
Stead said, “I did not twist anyone’s arm one way or another. I received a letter and a phone call. Chris resigned. That’s all I can do about it. I did ask her again when I went down to pick up the minutes if she would reconsider and she said no. So I have done all I can do.”
The board voted to accept the resignation from the secretary’s position and the motion carried, with one vote against from Smittle. Bowen remains as a member of the authority.
Racer brought up the authority’s Web site, stating that in a previous meeting Mayor Bill Fox had mentioned having the site updated by students at Paden City High School.
Fox said, “I have been in contact with the school and they have students up there who are capable and will probably do it, but we are not sure at this time because of their schedules. They will be volunteering to do this, but they will get back to us very shortly to let us know one way or another.”
Action could not be taken by the board since the original Web site was set up through cooperation with the city council. It was agreed after a lengthy discussion that the issue be referred back to the council for action.
Before the conversation ended, Racer added, “I want everyone to know that prior to us contracting for our Web site, we did ask the high school to do it and they were unsuccessful.”
Fox replied, “There was a reason for that.”
Smittle made a motion to reduce the gym fees for the Paden City Grasshopper League. “I think we should give the Grasshoppers a cheaper price. These are potential basketball players for the high school. They have said they would come down and work.”
Larry Doty commented, “They have helped me for the last five years…”
Smittle interrupted, “You won’t let them. That’s what I heard. I think they would do a lot if you’d let them.”
Doty replied, “I won’t do anything without the Development Authority’s permission from now on.”
Stead broke up the confrontation, “Let’s not tear into each other. Let’s be civil.”
Doty informed the board that he has given the league a break every year based on the success of their tournaments. When the crowds were up and revenue was high, he said the league was more than generous in sharing their profit. When the weather was bad and attendance was down, however, he accepted whatever they could give. His point was, no matter what the attendance is at a tournament, the utilities and janitorial fees remain the same.
Bowen added, “My only opposition was that with electricity going up and gas going up, money is tight. We have no income coming in from PPG right now or any place else other than Sprouse and I don’t think $20 (an hour) is all that much.”
Larry Shepherd added his two cents, “I would like to have had more time to look at the ramifications of a decrease in revenue, but it is my opinion that we should be the facilitators of action. We are looking at a deficit. I understand it. But the whole idea behind supporting Paden City students in a Paden City endeavor means a great deal to me. I was a board member for Wetzel County Schools and I did my level best to get activities down here and to keep programming in place.”
He continued, “The folks from the boosters have done a wonderful job in supporting these programs. If the PCDA can go to that point and help out in the same way that the boosters do, then that should be our mission. As we are an entity of Paden City, I think we should support whatever is going on in Paden City be it at the high school or the grade school or the grasshoppers, which is a feeder program. Anything to keep parents happy is fine with me.”
“I would agree with you 100 percent in backing everyone and everything in Paden City,” Bowen said, “if it was not for the fact that we have roofing problems, that we have no income coming. We have a whole world of issues that require money and we have no strong income coming in right now.”
The rental fee for gym use is $20 per hour. Under the carried motion posed by Smittle, the Grasshoppers will pay a lower fee, retroactive to Feb. 1. Pre-existing conditions for tournaments will apply; when charges are assessed they will be done so at $15 per hour.
In the vote, board members Matt Ferrebee and Clyde Hochstrasser abstained; Bowen voted against the motion; all others voted in favor of the discount.
In a further discussion of last month’s meeting minutes, Fox pointed out several areas of concern with the wording and issues that were to be acted on.
“We do not have a finance committee and we need to appoint one.” Fox said. “If we are going to serve on this board then we need people who are willing to help and will volunteer to do this. It’s not good business to come down here and approve or disapprove the bills. We need a finance committee to do it.”
In the midst of a heated debate about the job descriptions for Loretta and Jim Richmond (a hot topic from last month’s meeting), Stead called for Police Chief Mike Billiter who stood between him and Fox.
“Lower your voice and sit down,” said Stead.
Fox continued (standing beside his chair), “Don’t tell me you aren’t going to do something and you are tired of hearing this. This is why people come out here. They want to hear what is going on.”
Stead said, “I asked you to sit down!”
“And I will sit down when I am through,” Fox replied. “People have questions they want answered and they have a right to know. That’s why you are sitting up here. That’s why you are leading this organization.”
Stead called for Doty, vice president of the PCDA, to come to the head of the table. “I’ve had all this I’m going to take folks. I told you at the last meeting that I was not going to be someone’s whipping boy and I was not going to be a part of something that I felt was not being done properly. I will verbally resign as of now as the president and as a member of this development authority. I will have a letter to that effect to whomever sometime in the next couple of days.”
“I’ve tried to do this right, but evidently I haven’t,” he concluded. “My health isn’t good enough to take this…”
Doty presided over the remainder of the meeting, taking notes where Stead left off and fulfilling three officer positions on the board – vice president, president and secretary.