CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While some cities in the Kanawha Valley are reducing the size of their fire departments, St. Albans City officials have decided to expand the force in their city.
City Council members authorized Fire Chief Stephen Parsons to add a position to the fire staff Monday night. Parsons hopes to add two more positions this summer.
Parsons said he was thrilled to add firefighters to the force.
"We haven't hired a new firefighter since 1971," he said. "We've hired replacement staff but not a new person since that time."
"We're down four men so adding one now and two in July is a positive step forward for the department," he said.
Finance committee members said that the new hire was possible at this time.
"The fire department has 19 fulltime and 11 part-time firefighters," the chief said, "and we need a minimum of five per shift. Our ultimate goal is to have seven per shift.
"Getting to add three new firefighters is like adding 100 to me," he said. "St. Albans is a conservative city when it comes to spending money which is a good thing. I've been working on this for several years now and I'm just very glad the time was right now."
In other business, proposals to increase Mayor Dick Callaway's salary in 2016 was discussed but sent to the Ordinance and Finance committees for further approval.
Two alternatives were proposed. One would increase Callaway's salary by $12,800 per year. The other calls for an increase of $19,200. It's been 16 years since a mayor in St. Albans received a raise.
The proposal also stipulates that the salary is to be divided by the city of St. Albans and the Municipal Utilities Commission. Callaway serves as general manager of MUC without receiving a salary.
Councilman John Boles asked council to approve payment of current invoices of $13,469.91, which included a quote from Walsworth Publishing to print 200 St. Albans History Books for $7,085.25 and an invoice from Harless Printing in the amount of $4,116.20 to print Historical Walking Tour booklets. Both will be paid from Historical Society grant funds.
Council members also agreed to waive the $2 yard sale permit fee for the citywide yard sale, which is scheduled for May 17 to 19.