CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — The Chapmanville Town Council heard reports from department heads during what was a rather lengthy council meeting held Monday, September 12.
First to speak was Chapmanville Police Chief George Spangler. Spangler directed council’s attention to an item on the report concerning the lost of police officers to other law enforcement.
“Since 2013 we have lost three full time officers to the sheriff’s department,” Spangler said. “We went ahead and did a testing phase and checking things on scheduled candidates. We have some that would be fine officers for Chapmanville. We would like to ask that you place two of the three as soon as possible. All we have now is two full time patrol officers that we try to supplement with the part time deputies.”
Spangler said two candidates had passed all the testing and background checks.
“One is a certified officer, one would have to be sent to the academy,” Spangler said.
“We don’t have a lot of money. As a matter of fact, it is almost zero,” Mayor Raamie Barker said. “What impact financially are we talking?”
Spangler said it would some impact on the town’s finances.
“I don’t have all the numbers on what the benefits and all that would add up too,” Spangler said, adding that the hiring the officers would eliminate some, if not all, of the part time hours the town is now paying for.
Barker told Spangler to get with Jeff Vallett to work on the numbers.
“I’m pretty certain that we can defray the cost in the general revenue,” Barker said. “We do need additional officers here. One issue here is that Browning has to be at the high school. That is part of an agreement that was made two mayors ago with the Board of Education that would defray the power bill that the Board of Education gave the city for something over $100,000. He struck an agreement with the now past superintendent of schools to defray that electric bill which was for the old high school… it also affects the garbage collection as well. It is quite bit amount of money.”
Barker said he has been spending quite amount of time looking on the city’s challenges and he looks at that agreement between the Board of Education and the town.
“Frankly, I’m astonished at it and outraged by it,” Barker said. “I don’t read it to be fair to the town. I was involved in the meetings on using the school as the Vicker’s Center and none of the amounts were close to that amount. If I can find a way to break that contract I will. My counsel here won’t let me get in trouble, but that is my opinion on the matter.”
Barker said that, along with B&O taxes, garbage collection is part of their revenue.
“I don’t know if it is being cost effective to be in garbage collection. We may have to privatize that in order to pick up garbage,” Barker said. “Almost $400,000 is in arrears to this city by some of its customers and businesses in this community that have not paid… its kind of hard to provide all that citizens expect of this town without money.”
Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Cody Perry presented his report to the council, pointing out that he specifically wanted to speak about the ISO (Insurance Services Office) papers.
“We just went through what I call an inspection with our fire department, water system and 911. The fire department has done outstanding I think. They went from a Class 5 fire department to a Class 4. Which is, the return should be lower insurance premiums,” Perry said.
Barker asked how they achieved that and Perry responded that they had upgraded equipment and provided fire fighters further training.
“The water system going through town helped out and the work with 911,” Perry said.
Barker asked Perry about a section in the new water ordinance that would require the town to pay the water department $1,000 a month for a fire service fee.
Vallet explained to Barker that the fee was for hydrant maintenance. Barker then asked Perry if the last time he used a hydrant if it had worked.
“No, it did not,” Perry replied. “We did get in on it, but it gave us a lot of problems on one major fire.”
Council member Robin Mutters gave the Beautification Report. She reported that she had been in touch with the Department of Highways about removing brush from across from the post office. She said they agreed to cut the brush and all the town had to do was supply a truck to haul it off. Mutters said the wanted to make Saturday, September 24, a clean up day in the town starting at 9 a.m.
“We have the JRROTC cadets coming that day,” Mutters said. “We have to supply them with bags and gloves. They are going to pick up garbage all that day. They have also agreed to paint the old library, which is now the police department. We just have to supply them with the paint.”
Mutters also discussed having the pillars under the bridge painted with murals and setting up a bank account for donations and funds for the project. She reported that she had looked into grant funding, but most grants wanted matching money.
Mutters said she had also mapped out the town and will offer the spaces to people who want to maintain that spot in memory of or to honor someone. Mutters also spoke about other items she was looking into for beautification.
Dean “Doc” Williams gave the water department report. Williams had been appointed to the board during the August meeting.
Williams reported to the council that the Logan County Public Service Department has raised the town’s water rate twice.
“It’s put the town into a situation where we are buying the water from them and then selling it back to them cheaper,” Williams said.
Williams also reported that the town is not eligible for any grant money or loans until they get their water rate increase to extend new water lines throughout the town.
The water rate increase has been read publicly twice and a will need a public meeting on the increase and a third reading before becoming effective. Williams said the increase would average about $6 per customer.
Barker said a public meeting would be held prior to the next council meeting and the third reading and passage of the water rate increase would be during the meeting.
Miranda Robinette updated council on the upcoming Apple Butter Festival which will be held September 29-30. She reported that more than 40 vendors have signed up, the carnival will be there and that a program will be published.
As for location, the festival is scheduled to be held on the Mike Ferrell lot behind Speedway.
Robinette also asked about Trick or Treat in the town. It was decided that Trick or Treat would be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday, October 31.
Town accountant Vallet updated council on direct deposit for payroll. Vallet reported that the town’s current bank does not offer direct deposit and the town should look into opening a payroll account at another bank that does offer direct deposit.
Vallet also reported to the council that after the first of the year, his office would be upgrading their software and they would be able to offer direct deposit.
It was decided to wait until Vallet’s firm updated their software after the first of the year.
Vallet told the council that he had checked into several credit card merchants that the town could use to be able to take credit and debit card payments. He said fees charged from the companies were basically all the same.
Council decided to try the Square program on a trial basis.
Martha Sparks is a reporter for Civitas Media and can be reached at 304-752-6950, ext. 1728.