Despite some concerns about job performance, Marlinton Town Council unanimously voted to renew a contract with the State Police for town law enforcement.
During Monday evening’s council meeting, Councilmember Norris Long said public perception was not entirely positive.
“I have received community comments pertaining to the overall contract and what we are getting from the contract,” he said. “It is a great perception that all they are doing is sitting out there to give speeding tickets and then, of course, subsequently checking for drugs. I have noticed that they are parking together and doing their local shopping or whatever. Bantering is maybe what it is.”
Long said he had not observed sufficient police presence on Second Avenue, especially at the Mini-Park.
Mayor Joe Smith said troopers submit a monthly report, which shows that traffic tickets are just a fraction of police activity.
“The traffic tickets are just a portion of it,” he said. They do domestics and what-not, too.”
Councilmember Louise Barnisky said there was too much youth activity at night.
“I see a lot of kids along the street at night, running up and down, and a lot of them are young girls,” she said. “One night, I stayed out until 11:30. I’ve never seen such running and carrying on in all my life.”
Councilmember Loretta Malcomb said she had complained about one specific officer.
“Someone told me about one, in particular, hanging out at the 911 Center all the time,” she said. “Went up there and stayed the whole time. So I called about that and he was talked to or maybe eliminated from the list.”
Smith said a new coordinator had been assigned for State Police contract officers. The mayor said he would invite the new coordinator to Council’s August meeting to address concerns. Council voted 6-0 to renew the six month contract with the State Police, at a cost of $12,960. Troopers will continue to patrol town on weekend evenings and random weekday evenings for approximately 15 hours per week.
Council considered the purchase of a water eductor for the Marlinton Fire Department. The device enables fire trucks to draw water from rivers and other water bodies, and increases flow with a pump.
Recorder Robin Mutscheller said the fire department was negligent in submitting mandatory financial reports.
“I just have a concern that the fire department has still, after years of requesting it, not provided an audited financial statement,” she said. “But we could buy this for the Town of Marlinton. I think it’s a good idea to buy it.”
Smith said the only financial information he had received from the department was a copy of a check register, after he took office in January 2011. The town provides more than $30,000 from fire fees to the department every year, as well as an additional $10,000.
“We should not be funding the fire department if they cannot give us a financial statement,” said Councilmember Sue Helton.
Smith said he would speak to Fire Chief Kenny Hall about the financial statement, which is required by the department’s contract with the town. Council agreed to purchase the eductor from Schutte and Koerting, of Trevose, Pennsylvania, at a cost of $3,515. The fire department will be allowed to use the device, but it will remain town property until Council receives a financial statement.
During the Mayor’s Report, Smith said the town’s Fourth of July celebration had been a success. The mayor said 300-500 people had visited Gazebo Park to enjoy live music, games and food.
During the event, the mayor met a couple from Wheeling.
“Back several years ago, they were going through Marlinton on the Fourth of July, on their way home to Wheeling,” said the mayor. “They fell in love with the little hometown get-together and they have come back every year since for the Fourth of July. They drive down fromWheeling, spend the night, and then drive back.”
Long said he was impressed by the large number of people in town for the fireworks display. Earlier this year, Council authorized an expenditure of $3,330 for the fireworks show.
Council considered a change in sick leave policy for town employees, which allows the mayor to demand a doctor’s certificate for a single day of sick leave. The policy already requires a doctor’s certificate for three or more days of sick leave taken.
Town employees are allowed one-and-one-quarter days of sick leave per month, or 15 days per year, in addition to two personal days per year. Town employees also receive five vacation days after one year of employment, and an additional vacation day for every year of employment.
Long said that sick leave is used “predominantly” for illness, and that it is an invasion of privacy to allow the mayor to inquire about single sick days taken.
“It’s none of our business,” concurred Councilmember David Zorn.
Mutscheller insisted that the only valid purpose for sick leave is for illness.
Council voted 4-2 to amend the policy to remove the mayor’s discretion to require doctor’s certification for single sick days taken. Mutscheller and Barnisky voted in opposition.
In other business:
– Smith reported that Reliable Roofing, of Elkins, had arranged to remove a section of the Municipal Building roof to conduct an inspection, in order to determine the extent and cost of needed repairs.
– Council tabled action on Chapters 6,7 and 8 of the Sanitation Ordinance until the August meeting.
The next regular meeting of Marlinton Town Council is scheduled for August 4 at 7 p.m.