By JOHN G. WOLFE
The Weston City Council met in an emergency special session Monday evening at the Weston Municipal Building with two items on its agenda. The first was personnel issues and the second was consideration of a policy regarding firearms in municipal buildings.
Following the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, at Mayor Julia Spelsberg's suggestion, the Council voted to meet in executive session to discuss personnel issues. After an hour-long executive session, the Council reconvened. There was no mention made of the personnel matter discussed and there was no action by the Council on any personnel issue. The topic of discussion and "emergency" at hand remains a mystery.
All Council members were present as were Mayor Julia Spelsberg, City Clerk Kristin Droppleman, City Manager Michelle Allen, Administrative Assistant Linda Heater and Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Bryan Reed. It is no secret that relations between Mayor Spelsberg and City Manager Allen are not the best.
Heater has voiced displeasure with Allen at Council meetings in the past and has a lawsuit pending against the city and former members of the Council. As Heater was in attendance at the emergency meeting, it is speculated that the personnel issue involves the ongoing tension surrounding the working relationships between the Mayor, Heater and Allen.
The Council did vote unanimously to approve a policy banning all firearms from city buildings, such as the Municipal Building. Included in the motion was the premises of the Weston Fire Department, where the Council is now holding their regular meetings. The ban does not apply to law enforcement officers.
An emergency special session had originally been scheduled for last Friday evening, but was cancelled because two members of the Council were not able to attend. It was then rescheduled for Monday evening.
The next regular meeting of the Weston City Council will be on Tuesday, Sept. 8, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Weston Fire Department.
William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital welcomed a new CEO and Assistant CEO at a ceremony held last Friday at the Weston psychiatric facility.
Patrick W. Ryan officially took over as head of the hospital and Randy Housh as assistant. Ryan has 25 years of health care service and began his career working at the former Weston State Hospital. Friday's ceremony was a homecoming of sorts for Ryan, who spoke fondly of his work at Weston State.
"My start in behavioral health was at the old Weston State Hospital many years ago," Ryan said. "The patients we cared for and the people I worked with provided the foundation of my professional career. I feel blessed to be able to, in a sense, "come home" and be in a position to work with many of the same folks as we overcome the challenges that the system currently faces."
Ryan previously served as Regional Director of Operations for Diamond Healthcare and Director of Behavioral Medicine at Fairmont Medical Center which included administrative oversight of psychiatric inpatient and outpatient programs at seven facilities in Pa., Va. and W. Va.
Roush has been at Sharpe since July 16. He previously was an employee of Seneca Health Services Inc. in Summersville, and has worked in the field of social services, behavioral health and non-profit management. In 2011, he was appointed to serve on the Governor's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse (GACSA).
Ryan was introduced to local government leaders, guests, employees, and patients at event by DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, who emphasized the need for teamwork and praised the work done by the staff at Sharpe, saying "You provide critical health services to the most vulnerable of our population." She focused her remarks on success at the hospital and said her goal is to, "give employees the education and tools they need to do their jobs. She also emphasized the need for better relations with the community and said she thought Ryan was the man for the job. Bowling said that Ryan is the,"right fit to improve the hospital and has the knowledge base necessary to perform."
Ryan spoke briefly saying that he picked up his fundamental work values when he worked at Weston State Hospital. "We have to take care of and support each other to achieve goals," he said. "I hope to reach out to the community and bring all to the table to address how we can best succeed. I am glad to be here, and am thrilled that we will be able to do good things together."
In closing out the ceremony, Sec. Bowling again acknowledged the hard work and sacrifice of Sharpe employees saying, "Your jobs are critical to success. Thank you for your excellent service above and beyond."
After the ceremony, Ryan told media representatives that he wants to bring more healthcare professionals into the hospital and keep up on safety and crisis training of employees. He also hopes to get the hospital more involved with the community and change its perception in the community.
Local leaders on hand for the event included Delegate Peggy Donaldson Smith, Weston Mayor Julia Spelsberg, Commissioner Agnes Queen, County Clerk Cindy Rowan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kurt Hall, County Administrator Cindy Whetsell and LC EDA Director Mike Herron. Also in attendance was Delegate Patsy Trecost
By CASSIDY McCOY
At the Lewis County Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Monday, Aug. 24, Treasurer and Chief School Business Official Monika Weldon presented the board with the new budget and purchasing order system that gives the principal of each school control of purchase authorization for instructional funds.
Weldon said that the schools "are trying this new system this year" and stated that it "might make purchasing more streamlined" but also expressed her concern that no one violate any federal or state guidelines when making purchases. With the old policy, the county administration had to authorize purchases, but under the new system Weldon worries that the time to catch illegal activity may take up to two months. Weldon did say, however, that the response she has received from principals has been overwhelmingly positive, "they think it is a good policy and are willing to take on the work."
BOE member Beth Burkhart echoed Weldon's concerns stating that "we are trusting people to responsibly spend funds on behalf of the county" and suggesting that the payment policy and actions of recourse be re-examined to insure that measures are put into place for anyone who violates the guidelines established for appropriate use of funds.
This is the first year that the county school board is releasing authority to individual schools so Weldon provided each with a full budget, including a breakdown by department, as well as a list of rules and restrictions at the beginning of the year. Some things cannot be purchased with the instructional funds, such as things bought in bulk by the school like plain white copy paper and technology items, which are paid for by a separate fund.
Weldon and BOE Director Chris Derico were tasked by the BOE to revisit policies that are in place in order to establish a comprehensive policy to address violations of allowable and appropriate expenditures through the new system.
The BOE also discussed plans for the sale of the old bus garage and architect estimates for the transformation of the armory into a new bus garage for Lewis County schools. Central Administrator Steve Casto reported that the architectural firm wanted to offer a flat rate to which Superintendent Joe Mace stated the he would "never suggest you pay a flat rate to an architect for their protection without any bids." Mace also suggested that no rates be approved without an estimate of the project cost and knowing the percent of the bid the architect fee would be. Mace elaborated further to include the request that any bids for the job include not only the financial cost, but also the number of days allotted to complete the work.
Further discussion on the old bus garage revealed that the deed to some of the property includes a clause allowing the former owners to buy back a portion of the property where the Chapter 1 offices and pre-school were located for $6,000. The former owners hadn't realized they would have to purchase the property back but Mace stressed that an executive sign off and release the property before moving forward with any sale of it.
In other BOE news, BOE member Buck Probst stated that Lewis County High School (LCHS) has approved the addition a cosmetology program that is already popular among students. Probst also said that the mobile home constructed last year was sold for a total of $67,000. Paul Derico and Probst both alluded to the cost of materials rising and cutting into any profit that could be made from the sale but agreed that the students' experience was what the project was really meant to accomplish, not making money. Derico also added that the 2014 audit is closed, and that auditors had no findings to report.
The BOE approved requests for out of district and out of county students to attend schools within Lewis County or to be released from them in order to attend Harrison and Upshur County schools.
Kimberly Bonnett was approved to attend an out of state meeting in Washington, D.C. for leadership training.
Six LCHS students were approved for an exception to the attendance policy in order to enroll in college courses and/or seek employment. The BOE was thoroughly impressed with the new round of students looking to achieve more in their high school careers and applauded their effort to do so.
In personnel matters, the BOE approved the resignation of William Smith as a general science teacher at LCHS, Danielle Spadine as itinerant elementary counselor at Peterson-Central Elementary School (PCES), Miranda Canfield as grade 3 teacher at Leading Creek Elementary School and Tracy Hartnett as cook at PCES.
Jessica Bailey was approved for a medical leave of absence from August 31 through November 1 and Brenda Riffle was reassigned as a preschool teacher at Leading Creek to a preschool teacher at Jane Lew Elementary School effective August 13.