New council members are sworn in
Three new council members were sworn in Monday evening at the regular meeting of the Sistersville City Council.
Before the meeting began, Mitch Corley (2nd Ward), Jason Hood (3rd Ward) and Julie Schleier (4th Ward) received the oath of office from Mayor David B. Fox.
The first item on the agenda was a public hearing for an ordinance establishing new rates for municipal trash services; the second was a public hearing regarding an oil and gas lease for Sistersville General Hospital. No one spoke in opposition of either measure.
Before voting on third reading of the revised “trash ordinance,” Councilman Bill Rice addressed his fellow council members. “When I was going around door-to-door during the Election I had a lot people ask if we needed to raise the rates if we cut back to one day a week,” he said, noting that Sistersville’s municipal customers currently receive trash pick-up two days per week. “A lot of people are hesitant about getting their bills raised these days, even if it’s only a few dollars. So I told them I would bring it up.”
Councilman Curtis Heintzman, who heads the finance committee for the city, answered, “Yes. It is necessary. Even if we do go back to one day a week pick-ups, there will still be many days when we will have to make two trips. So we would be putting the same amount of miles on (the truck) and putting the same amount of gas in it.”
Heintzman further explained that the cost of dumping the waste products is also going up. “Add into that the cost of a new truck and that’s where we are.”
“But there are two options,” Heintzman added. “We can do what we are doing, or we can call an outside company. If we do the latter, we will get one day a week pick-up and the rate will increase by $5 or $6 instead of $2.”
Mayor Fox said, “That’s your options. You either get an increase of $5, $6 or $7 with one day a week pick-up and a two-can limit. Or, you can have it like it is and only see a $2 increase.”
Councilwoman Ann Doig commented, “I haven’t found anyone who had a problem with the increase.”
Heintzman noted he had spoken to a few people who were concerned with the increase as well. “Once I explained to them the difference between a (company) and us raising the fee a couple dollars, they understood.”
Doig said, “The people I talked to were very willing to spend the extra money because the we really, really need a new garbage truck and not a secondhand truck.”
A resident asked, “If you are going to raise the garage rates, is it going to be a brand new truck? We don’t want to put money into junk.”
Heintzman said, “Yes it will be new. It will have zero miles on it when we receive it.”
Having discussed the options, the council approved and adopted the ordinance.
City Attorney F.M. “Dean” Rohrig explained the process by which Sistersville General Hospital acquired mineral rights, which have been leased. “These are mineral interests left to the hospital through someone’s Will,” he said. “The hospital was unaware that this had been left to them, until the oil company contacted them, and we negotiated with them on the lease.”
The council approved the measure, with no opposition.
Council then discussed raises for the municipal employees. “We could support a 20 cent raise across the board,” explained Heintzman.
Mayor Fox remarked, “I’d like to see a bigger raise than that.”
Council moved to increase the hourly rates for every employee, both full and part time, by 20 cents effective July 1. Heinztman noted that additional raises could be implemented at a later date. The measure was approved.
“(Councilman) Dave Dietrich and I conducted interviews Saturday morning. After speaking with the three applicants, I’d like to formally recommend Alexis Billings for the position of (Parks and Recreation Commissioner),” Heintzman said.
All council members approved the hiring, with Councilman Corley abstaining from the vote.
Tom Gray, president of the Sistersville Planning Commission, brought a Conditional Use request to council. “Recently Audist and Dave Pancake invested in a piece of property in the City of Sistersville and there was a question on the zoning. We have approved them for the commercial use of 210 Elizabeth Street,” he explained.
The Pancakes will be opening a Christian bookstore in the property.
Rev. Bill Dawson, who serves as chaplain for the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department, appeared before council to request support in the purchase of a new fire truck for the department. “In 2011, we responded to 172 fires and EMS calls. As of today, we have responded to 51 calls this year. As a department, we are in need of a new pumper,” he explained. “Our old pumper is a 1985 Pierce.”
He noted several reasons for the replacement of the emergency vehicle, many of which dealt with safety and compliance with governmental regulations. Dawson informed the council they had received information on a new truck that meets their needs. However, the department will be required to request sealed bids before council can move on the matter.
In the meantime, council gave the Sistersville VFD permission to contact financial institutions regarding loan options. Bids will be opened at the next regularly scheduled council meeting.
Sistersville Police Chief Ben Placer requested support of his recommendation to hire Steve Robinson to fill the vacancy in his department. Robinson, who lives in Wetzel County, grew up in Tyler County and currently works as a Correctional Officer. “He has worked at the Northern Regional Jail for the past four years,” Placer noted.
A motion was made to hire Robinson. He will be required to apply to the West Virginia State Police Academy within 90 days of his hire date.
Placer also informed the council of a new program the department has implemented to help dispatch information to the residents in the event of an emergency. “Nixle, which utilizes email and text messaging technology, is used by police departments all over the country,” he said.
Placer noted that the company does not SPAM its subscribers, or sell the telephone numbers or email addresses to outside sources.
For more information, or to sign up for the notification service, contact Chief Placer at 304-652-1570 or stop by the City Building.