By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - The last regularly scheduled meeting of the Williamson City Council for the month of February was held Thursday evening, with all members and the mayor present.
The first item on the agenda was to review the names of the three candidates who had passed the Police Civil Service test, which approves them for potential hire with the Williamson Police Department. Police Chief Barry Blair was asked by Mayor Darrin McCormick if he was making any recommendations for hire, to which Blair replied, “No, not at this time.” This was the second reading and the second time these names were passed over. If passed over a third time, the applicants’ names will be removed from the list.
The second reading of the seat belt ordinance was read and a motion was made and seconded to apply this law that will be in line with county and state regulations, which makes driving or being a passenger in a vehicle without wearing a seat belt a primary offense, instead of a secondary one.
Councilman York Smith asked those in attendance to remember the family of the late Wilburn “Wig” Preece in their prayers, saying he had passed away earlier that day at the age of 86. Preece was a lifetime resident of the Kermit area and was the fire chief for many years, having founded the department. McCormick said Preece’s death is a great loss to the town of Kermit and said that Kermit had always been a friend of the city of Williamson.
The first reading of an ordinance that would implement additional fees for those who have fines and citations with the city that are not taken care of prior to the time their driver’s license is suspended was heard. The fees would be charged for completing the paperwork to have the individual’s license reinstated. These fees would be separate from the one charged by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. A fee of $50 for administrative costs would be charged, as well as a $25 fee from the city for reinstatement.
“We looked at other municipalities throughout the state and these charges are right in line with those at other locations,” stated City Attorney Chris Younger. “Matter of fact, this is still less than what some are charging.”
The mayor asked Blair to please caution residents of a home on Peter Street to not be blasting their music, saying he had received several complaints, but did not name the person or persons responsible.
“Neighbors can’t complain because their neighbor plays rock and roll, but they can complain when the amplifier is set on 11,” McCormick said.
Councilwoman Sherry Brown asked if there is a way possible to have an alert in place to let those living in town know when they are in an area effected by a boil water advisory, explaining that word doesn’t always reach those under a boil water advisory in time.
Jason Allen, project manager for Veolia Water, told the council that his department had tried making mass calls through the Mingo County Emergency Services Department but explained that the calls were sent to homes that weren’t affected or in the designated area.
“It was really confusing for people and didn’t work well at all,” Allen said. “Since then, we’ve been trying to call each home when an advisory is issued, but we don’t always reach someone.”
Williamson Fire Department Chief Jerry Mounts offered the service of his firefighters when an advisory is issued, saying that, along with a couple of Veolia employees, they will go door to door alerting residents of the potential water problem.
“That’s exactly what they want,” the mayor said. “Most of the calls I received on this were from elderly residents and they said they would like to receive a face-to-face notification.”
Mounts went a step further and recommended that Veolia have door hangers made up and ready for circumstances such as this that can be left if no one is at home at the time of the call. Younger also suggested an alert system for those who have Internet, saying that Mountain Water District in Pike County, Ky., offers an email sign-up for customers who wish to receive alerts and notifications in that manner, and said that Veolia could implement a similar alert system.
McCormick praised Veolia employees for wading through the mud and icy water to repair lines during the recent snowstorm that left Mingo County under a blanket of snow and ice for days, saying they responded to more than 100 repair calls and 100 meter checks.
The parking situation on First Avenue in Williamson during business hours was addressed, as several people had expressed complaints about having difficulty maneuvering their vehicles around police cruisers that are parking along the sidewalk.
“The city recognizes the importance for police vehicles to be able to park close to the courthouse and the magistrates’ office,” McCormick said. “However, our responders’ vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances, have got to be able to make it down that street; it can’t be blocked.”
The mayor asked Younger, Blair and Mounts to speak with department heads in the courthouse in an attempt to have their nonemergency employees park in another free lot and free up additional parking spaces for police vehicles that must park in that vicinity, or ask the county to create additional parking to accommodate their needs.
While on the topic of parking, City Clerk Francis Frye asked the mayor to let the volunteer firemen know that the parking lot across from City Hall is designated for employees in the clerk’s office and in the Water Department, and does not belong to them.