Paden City Adds Two New Officers to Police Force
Following the opening prayer by councilman Steve Kastigar, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Mayor Rick Casteel, the minutes of three previous meetings were approved along with the July 29, 2020 vote canvass and the July 31, 2020 vote certification meetings.
Several items were on the agenda for the Monday, September 14, regular meeting. Mayor Casteel commented on the city’s success in presenting information to the Wetzel County Commissioners about the problems at the sewage plant. Casteel said he wanted to thank those who went to the commission meeting for their support and he offered a huge thank you to the commissioners for approving the city’s request. He said the amount of work need completed at the plant amounted to $80,0000 and the commissioners approve the whole amount.
Casteel especially thanked councilman J.P. Springer who had brought the idea to council and presented the information to the commission. Also the mayor commented on several other projects the city is working on and stated they basically have a lot of stuff to do.
Following the mayor’s comments, the city went right to work and swore in two new police officers. Mayor Casteel introduced the newest addition to the force starting with Anthony Wince from St. Marys and Shane Eads from Paden City. Together with Chief Lauer they now make up the Paden City Police force. Wince and Eads will also be attending the West Virginia State Police Academy in the future. According to Casteel, both new officers have verbally committed to the force for the long term.
Under Citizen Comments, the council heard from B.B. Smith, one of the organizers of the Paden City Labor Day Parade and President of the Labor Council of the Upper Ohio Valley including Wetzel, Marshall, and Ohio counties. Smith remarked he wished to thank the city for allowing the Parade to go forward. He said he appreciated the cooperation from the mayor, council and all involved. Smith stated it was a good parade that kept the tradition alive in Paden City. He was there on behalf of the labor council and all working men and women. Council thanked him for his remarks.
Council then moved and approved the payment of all bills.
Water, Streets, and Maintenance Superintendent Josh Billiter, gave the council an update on several projects, including the water project, which he said was moving along well. Concerning a water line on Seventh Avenue, Billiter said they have run into several problems which are not easy fixes. He mentioned lines between Broadway and Taylor Drive, saying the best course of action would be to lay new water and sewer lines. According to Billiter the present system is mostly patch work put in by the homeowners with whatever material they could confiscate from the local plants or wherever. He said even though the homes had never been annexed into the city limits, the city is still responsible responsible for the upkeep because they performed maintenance on them in the past.
Billiter said on Orchard Lane the water lines are only inch and a quarter with no shutoffs. He said they get a lot of calls in that area and he is not exactly sure how to handle it or correct it. He believes the city would be better off putting in new lines. Mayor Casteel said they would re-visit the problems in October. Billiter said they are still out patching streets and are trying to get caught up, but every time they start making progress it seems like they get called for a water or sewer problem.
Under police business, there was a lengthly discussion concerning switching police dispatch to Tyler County. Fire Department Chief and councilman Jim Richmond asked what the city has to gain by switching service from one county to the other. It was mentioned by councilman Bob Kendle that he had worked with the Tyler County office for 40 years and he didn’t want to be cutting anyone down, but he feels that Tyler County give the city much better information and they are able to communicate better through the phone systems. He said the city has better phone service with Tyler County. Councilman Steve Kastigar agreed. No action was taken on the issue and Mayor Casteel tabled the issue until October, so they can get more information and input on the subject.
Permission to re-vinyl the lettering on the city police cruisers was approved after council heard from police chief Lauer who explained there was three bids. Tri-State Graphics of Wheeling submitted bids of $550 for non-reflective lettering, and $850 for reflective. Vinyl Graphics of Clarington, Ohio gave a bid of $675 for reflective lettering, which on the recommendation of the chief council accepted. The bid was for two cars and not the SUV. Both cars need redone because the old lettering is peeling off.
Chief Lauer also explained to council a proposal to replace the departments old 45 mm guns with new 9 mm’s. He said with the trade in it would cost around $1,200, but the city would save a substantial amount on ammunition. It was decided by council to accept the bid from Dodd’s. Another proposal from the police department was to provide the officers with cell phones at a cost of $44.99 each per month. It was tabled until a later date.
Mayor Casteel gave a brief update for the Paden City Development Authority. He said he attended their monthly meeting and everything seems to be going well. He added they are in the process of repainting the roof and doing other updates to the building.
Under new business Mayor Casteel called on Bev Gibb, Parks and Recreation Director from New Martinsville to address council on the possibility of instituting a one percent sales tax throughout the community. Gibb said she was not present to promote the idea, but only to answer any questions and offer help if needed. She explained what she felt were the benefits to adding the tax. According to Gibb it would not affect the sale of food or gasoline or some of the commodities. However, it would be a tax added to purchases such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and most everything else consumers use, including online sales from Amazon. She said New Martinsville is expecting their first check from the state since implementing the tax earlier this year.
With New Martinsville now a Home Rule city, she said they have broader authority over many things including changing ordinances, building inspections and clean up, to name a few. She advised council again that if they were to take up the idea and get to work on it, she feels they could be ready by January. Gibb told council she would be able to help the city work on the application if they decided to pursue the idea. Councilman Kastigar said it could be a money source for the city and he would like to have it looked into. Council agreed, with Gibb saying she would come down and help City Recorder Shelia Erwin and clerk Diana Wright go over the information. Mayor Casteel asked council to consider the idea and return in October with more information.
Council unanimously approved the renewal of the Pestec Contract for rodents. Superintendent Billiter said they were having a rat problem at the maintenance building.
Following a motion and second, council unanimously approved the appointment of Scott Dalrymple to fill the vacancy in the third ward council. Dalrymple will start his position in October.
Discussion was held on the purchase of a new chainsaw for the maintenance department. Superintendent Billiter said he would get some bids and bring them back to council if they are over $500. He said his department needs a larger saw to keep up with the trees at the park.
Next on the agenda was discussion on employee pay raises. Mayor Casteel advised those present that the city was going to give employees a five percent raise across the board. Superintendent Billiter took exception to the raise saying he felt like he is getting the short end of the stick. He said he did some calculations and the raise amounts to 89 cents on the hour and he doesn’t feel that is enough for all that he is responsible for. There was more discussion back and forth and it was eventually decided to go with the five percent and revisit it at a later date if they find more money to work with. Mayor Casteel made it clear he was in favor of giving raises as needed, but he would only do so if there is money available. Billiter stated he has been there five years and never had a raise. The city employees present gave credit to the mayor for offering the raise, saying he was the only one to do that. The raise was approved unanimously by council, who also agreed to go back in a few months and re-visit the issue.
Also approved on Monday was the third drawdown on the water project, with council giving Mayor Casteel authorization to sign the paperwork.
The next regular scheduled council meeting will be held on the first Monday in October at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.