CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County commissioners voted to allow the sheriff's department to give a used vehicle to the Pratt Police Department with one stipulation -- the Eastern Kanawha County town's mayor is not to use the vehicle.
Sheriff John Rutherford offered to give the vehicle, which was formerly used by the county home confinement office. Pratt Chief Eric Eagle and Rutherford attended Thursday's commission meeting.
The city owns nine vehicles, including dump trucks and police cars. Eagle said the police department has four vehicles but would get rid of two if they were given the sheriff's department's vehicle.
State Police caught Pratt Mayor Gary Fields last month in a city owned vehicle allegedly with illegal prescription painkillers.
Commission President Kent Carper was frank with his opinion on the matter.
"I'm just going to ask the question point blank, is your current mayor going to be allowed to drive it?" Carper asked Eagle.
"No sir," Eagle said.
"Is he going to be allowed be carted around in it?" Carper asked.
"I am his chauffer," Eagle said.
"Not in this vehicle you're not," Carper said.
Eagle said the police department would use the vehicle for official business only.
Fields was driving a black Ford Crown Victoria, clearly marked with city license plates, on Aug. 29 when Cpl. B.G. Wriston stopped him. Wriston wrote in the criminal complaint that he stopped Fields after watching the vehicle run off the road while traveling east on Paint Creek Road toward Hansford.
A search turned up two prescription bottles containing four roxicodone pills in Fields' pants pocket. He said he got the pills from a friend on Paint Creek. Fields did not have a prescription for the medication. Kanawha Magistrate Joe Shelton issued a summons Wednesday for Fields to appear in magistrate court.
The town's council voted during a Sept. 10 meeting to strip Fields of his right to use city vehicles.
"The council voted unanimously to take his keys from him and the next morning he cleaned the car and it was parked," Pratt Councilwoman Kaye Ford told the commission.
She said the only reason the mayor would need to use a city vehicle would be to make deposits for the town at the bank or to attend meetings in Charleston.
"But not to go to Walmart or whatever, that was the thing we were upset with," Ford said.
Commissioner Dave Hardy asked if the mayor could just log his mileage for reimbursement for city business travel expenses. Ford said that was what council decided he would do since they took his keys.
"He didn't have any vehicle up until we took his keys," Ford said. "He had to go get a vehicle. He has a vehicle now."
Hardy said the commission didn't want to hurt the town over the mayor's alleged misconduct, but that the idea of "tax paid police chief driving the mayor maybe in a tax paid car due to the mayor's alleged misconduct is not a good idea."
Eagle agreed with commissioners that the vehicle would only be used by authorized police officers for authorized police business, not chauffeuring the mayor around.
"Here's the deal -- I'll never vote to do anything else, whether it hurts the town or not, for you all if you break the deal on this," Carper said. "I know it's alleged misconduct but you know, you all made a decision.
"I assume the council did something that makes sense, and I assume you did it for a reason and I respect that and I don't want to hurt the police department."
Hardy and Carper voted to approve the transfer. Commissioner Hoppy Shores was absent from the meeting. Eagle left the courthouse with the keys to the vehicle.
In other business, commission recognized two sheriff's employees who helped save the lives of two people in separate incidents.
Capt. K.C. Bohrer, an investigator with the Frederick County Sheriff's Department in Virginia, was on a 5,000-mile cross-country motorcycle trip in June when he broke off from his group to visit friends in the Charleston area. Bohrer retired from the Berkeley Sheriff's Department in 2006 with 28 years of service.
He was crossing a bridge over the Kanawha River when he felt what he thought was a rock strike his temple. He then realized a bee had stung him twice. He is allergic to bee stings.
Stuck in 5 p.m. traffic, he tried to make it to the Elkview exit, which he called "not my best decision."
His body's reaction was severe. He'd been stung the previous week in South Dakota and used the Epi-Pen and Benadryl he'd carried with him. He made it off the Elkview exit and to Go-Mart where he tried to find help.
Christie Shamblin, who has worked in the Sheriff's tax office for three years, was pumping gas when she saw the man "stumbling around." She knew he was in trouble when he sat down on the ground.
Shamblin immediately went into action, the wife of a firefighter and EMT and a mother, she did her best to comfort him while they waited for paramedics. She said he was able to tell her he was having an allergic reaction. She put ice on the swelling while another person got him Benadryl.
"I do not remember much more until I woke up being attended to by a citizen, Mrs. Shambling (sic) and two medics," Bohrer wrote in a letter to Rutherford. "She cradled me in her arms, gave me cold drink and put ice on the swelling. She stayed with me lying there in the parking lot until medics arrived and took over."
Shamblin said she didn't want any recognition for the incident, saying she only did what she hoped anyone else would do.
"Just pay it forward," she said. "I hope someone else would do the same for me or my family."
Also recognized was Sgt. Justin Thaxton, a Marine Corps veteran with 14 years in the sheriff's department, who helped pull a suicidal woman from a bridge.
Thaxton was driving over Washington Street Bridge in Charleston near Charleston Area Medical Center's Women and Children's Hospital Aug. 1 when he saw a "distraught" female trying to climb over the bridge's railing, according to a commendation request filed by Lt. K.A. Vititoe.
Two hospital workers had followed the woman from the hospital but couldn't stop her.
"Sergeant Thaxton acted quickly and decisively and jumped out of his patrol car and rushed to physically restrain the distraught woman before she could do further harm to herself," the letter said. "Sergeant Thaxton's actions saved the life of another human being. He prevented the woman from falling to a certain death to the Elk River approximately 50 feet below."
Thaxton said paramedics cared for the woman and took to a local hospital.
"These are just two examples of the selflessness exhibited by public servants every day," said Cpl. Brian Humphreys, sheriff's department spokesman.
Commissioners also voted to pay $40,000 out of the general contributions fund to install seven fire hydrants along Fishers Branch in the Tyler Mountain area. The Kanawha County Regional Development Authority previously installed the water lines.
Carper had hoped West Virginia American Water would help with the cost of installing the hydrants, but was told by Colt Sandoro, special assistant to the county manager, told commission from his interaction with the company that they would not.
Commissioners also voted to give $21,800 out of the table games fund to the George Washington High School Boosters to complete work on the concession stand at Steve Edwards Sr. Field at the high school.
The group already put $28,000 into construction of the building, which also will include two public restrooms and a ticket booth, according to Rudy Martin, booster president. The money will go toward finishing the inside of the building.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.