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Nitro councilman resigning, city attorney replaced

By Bridget May

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nitro City Council will soon be looking for a new member to fill an at-large seat after unanimously accepting Councilman Craig Matthews' resignation.

Matthews moved to Hurricane after his marriage to Jennifer Hillenbrand last month. As a result, he is no longer able to represent the city of Nitro.

Mayor Dave Casebolt expressed his disappointment in losing his fellow council member, calling Matthews an "an outstanding councilperson."

"He was just incredible to work with, very knowledgeable, and he will be missed," Casebolt said.

Matthews list of contributions to the city include the procurement of a $25,000 grant to repair and establish new trails around Ridenour Lake and a litter control grant four years in a row for Nitro.

Moreover, Matthews obtained funds and plans for a new dog park, acquired a grant to build a handicap fishing pier at Ridenour lake, established a new building inspector and fire marshal's office, and he also established a movie night at Nitro City Park.

"It's a great loss to the council not to have him," Councilwoman Laurie Elkins said.

Council members plan to work with City Attorney Johnnie Brown to determine how to appoint a replacement. Brown, of the law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, replaced former City Attorney Ritchie Robb on Feb. 1.

The position is based on the mayor's discretion.

"We appreciate everything Mr. Robb did for us," Casebolt said. "We just feel that Johnnie's offering us a lot more services."

Brown has a team of attorneys at his disposal who have experience working with city, county and state governments.

Council voted unanimously to increase the city attorney's salary from $2,500 to $3,000, since Brown asked for more for his services than Robb.

The additional monies will be paid out of the City Hall Budget.

In other business, local chiropractor Roland Meffert proposed the formation of a Wellness Council for the city.

The community-wide initiative would be the first of its kind in the state. It is designed to promote health awareness and provide the tools and support necessary for living healthy lifestyles.

The proposal calls for the implementation of wellness council that will have four subcommittees: Communication, Business Liaison, Health-Care Coordinator, and Community Relations.

Meffert explained that one of the best things about this program is that it is not going to cost the community a lot of money because there are grants and other funding available to support such an initiative.

"It's a reality that health has almost become a secondary thing," Meffert said, which is why he hopes to start a "biggest loser" competition where community members can win prizes for winning weigh-ins.

Meffert proposal would also provide tools such as grocery lists, menus and newsletters to help citizens stay on the right track.

"This is a huge effort," Mayor Casebolt said. "I think once it gets initiated, once it gets started, it will take on a life of its own."

Council members Laurie Elkins, Andy Shamblin and Al Walls each agreed to be a part of the committee to get the program up and running.

City Council also voted to accept Mayor Casebolt's motion to accept bids for trash bags to be provided to Nitro residents.

Councilwoman Brenda Tyler opposed the motions saying, "I think the garbage bags is a waste of money."

She said that money could be used to make improvements to the city's roads.

Casebolt clarified that the motion is only to accept bids, not to actually provide them. Once council receives the bids it will then decide if it is within the budget to purchase the bags.

Casebolt also announced he had violated a city ordinance during the renovation of the Mayor's office.

Last month, he received a donation of $1,000 from Nitro resident Robert Schamber to make the repairs. The mayor violated a city ordinance when he failed to bid out drywall, carpet and tile work that exceeded $1,000.

Casebolt immediately reported his failure to do so to the ethics commission and to the city attorney when he learned the actual cost.

"It was a mistake, I made it, and I take full responsibility for," Casebolt said.

There was no mention of what ramifications may result from this violation.



















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