From the very first community meeting, while putting together the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, the #1 citizen concern was related to community safety (page 3-5 and following). Part of the safety issue includes dilapidated and abandoned housing. It is agreed that law enforcement and code enforcement forms are the backbone of community safety in Marlinton and elsewhere.
Since 2018, the Town has advertised and interviewed at various times for both police officers and code enforcement officers. In fact, we have employed at least five law enforcement (LE) officers and three code enforcement officers (CEO), during that time. FYI, CEOs are even harder to solicit than LEs. The void between advertising and hiring has only served to exacerbate the many problems.
Therefore, the Town took an unconventional approach when hiring both a police officer and a code enforcement officer, separate from the floodplain manager position. Similar jobs in neighboring communities pay double or more than what Marlinton is in a position to pay. Both the police officer and CEO have begun the processes enabling each to be employed, while working toward obtaining full certification. Both have either passed initial testing or have received provisional certification from the State of West Virginia.
The two men are qualified to do their respective jobs.
For these reasons, I feel the Town is very fortunate to have employed both a law-enforcement officer-in-training, and a code enforcement officer employed under the guidelines of the Fire Marshal’s office. Kendal Ober is home-grown and wants to be a cop. These are qualifications for success. I expect him to grow and learn. Scott Gibb has called Marlinton home for many years. He is a member of Council and has worked in more than three other departments of the Town of Marlinton, including the police department. He raised his family here and is invested in the community.
So, not only must they be certified, but they will have to have continual classes and annual “In-Service” training to remain, and to stay up on code changes and to meet re-certification guidelines. We chose, with the complete consent and support of the Town Council, to invest in our community. Our two candidates were employed, with conditions tied to their full certification(s). The Town will not, nor could we cheat on any of the requirements, as is being implied on the street. Both lawyers and accountants are fully aware of what we pay out and to whom. We would not be allowed to have persons enforce the code if not fully supported to do so. Saying they are not certified to do their jobs needs to come out of the social lexicon. Though provisional and in-training, they are duly sworn to uphold the duties of their respective positions.
The other choice would have been to wait for months if not years to bring in or obtain fully certified people. The pay definitely affects those choosing to apply for the job here. Furthermore, the people who work for the town are your neighbors. They volunteer in our community, they eat at local restaurants, buy in local shops and do the heavy work that many shy away from. They could be anywhere. They are here because they love Marlinton – just like you do. We need to treat them with the respect they deserve. As was stated in a town council meeting two months ago – we should each “Treat others like we would want to be treated.”