Captain James Merrill, Troop 1 Commander of the West Virginia State Police, appeared before the Tyler County Commission on Aug. 12 concerning a comment which was made at a recent open forum meeting.
Merrill, who is in charge of 12 counties in north central West Virginia told the commission he was aware of statements which had been made that the WV State Police were non existent in the area of Tyler County.
He said he had talked to Sheriff Bob Kendle and honestly believes he meant no harm and had no harsh feeling toward the officers assigned to this area. He said he believes the sheriff was just trying to prove he needs more manpower. Merrill has been troop commander for five years and said he has been trying to put enforcement in the areas of need according to the number of calls received. He mentioned the Paden City Detachment is up to five troopers at this time.
"I applaud Bob for trying to get more manpower," said Merrill. "There is a need." The State Police has five troopers willing to assist this county. He said he has never had a report of denial of a call and they have never been lazy in an investigation. He said he was " here to defend our honor, to let you know we are here to serve and we would like to build a better relationship with the sheriff and be able to work together for the benefit of us all."
Merrill said the Paden City Detachment covers Wetzel and Tyler counties. More troopers are needed in the area and they are doing a district scheduling to help with manpower and to assist with calls. "We are here to help," he assured.
Commissioners thanked him for coming, saying they were happy to know help is near by.
Sheriff Kendle said he will meet and talk with the WVSP Captain, who he believes is sincere. Kendle said he still needs more manpower.
"The type of calls being received are ranging and the drug situation is spiraling out of control," said Kendle. He said his department needs any help they can get.
Commissioner Charles "Pork" Smith said he felt it was time to add or look for another deputy for the sheriff's department. He would like to have a total cost and a proposed schedule prepared, so a decision can be made.
In another matter, commissioners approved the Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA) contract agreement and resolution. A total of $29,700 had been requested and $27,280 was awarded, The motion to approve the VOCA resolution included an additional $1,880 from the county.
The purchase of a new color copier from Xerox was approved at a cost of $6,457, The new copier will have a three-year warranty. The commission is also looking at a replacement copier for the front office. Quotes have been received from CWS for $9,997 and from Xerox for $6,541. The purchase for this need was tabled pending more information.
Tim Meeks, from the Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council (MOVRC), appeared before the commission to discuss the courthouse facilities improvement grant. He said it needs to be submitted by Sept. 19. It would be beneficial to receive a letter of support from the State Supreme Court prior to submitting the grant, noted Meeks. He has talked to Dominick Cerrone of Cerrone Associates, an engineering firm in Wheeling, about a new cost estimate He mentioned Senator Jeff Kessler is the legislation representative on the board. Cerrone will return to the commission on Sept. 9 for the purpose of the grant application.
Vincent brought the commission up to date on the inspection of the building they are interested in purchasing for a secure storage facility. He said the building inspector he spoke to wasn't comfortable with it. Vincent said he would speak to Meeks to see if he can help us find someone.
Prosecutor Luke Furbee told the commissioners that legally they have a duty to preserve evidence, so items need to be impounded. He also noted that items seized is the cost responsibility of the county, not the criminal.
Commission President John Stender made the commission aware that Middlebourne TV Cable Co. has been shut down, leaving the town without cable service. He also attended the County Commission Association meeting and was nominated for the regional board committee.