Kingwood seeks more applications for new police officers after recent resignations

KINGWOOD — So far, Kingwood isn’t getting the number of applications it expected for police officers, the temporary chief said.

“They’re not coming in quick at all. A lot slower than what I thought. I thought we would have a great number of [applications] by now,” temporary Police Chief Jim Fields told council Tuesday.

He said Kingwood is getting the “stigma” of having frequent turnover in the department. But the ad for officers didn’t appear until last week, he noted.

Applications are being accepted through May 31. Fields said he will have at least two applicants for council to interview at its next meeting.

Kingwood’s last two officers resigned last month without explanation. Council has refused to comment on the resignations. Fields was appointed temporary chief until the positions are filled.

A Freedom of Information Act request by The Dominion Post for copies of Chief Todd Nestor and Officer Felix Thorn’s resignation letters was rejected by the City of Kingwood.

The city cited an exemption from the law that says information can be withheld from the public if it is, “of a personal nature such as that kept in a personal, medical or similar file, if the public disclosure of the information would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy, unless the public interest by clear and convincing evidence requires disclosure in this particular instance.”

In a related action Tuesday, council voted unanimously to buy a used, 2013 Ford cruiser from Ball Auction in Terra Alta. The $12,900 asking price is below book value, the mayor said.

The city will use $13,025 it received from its insurance for a cruiser that was totaled in an accident to pay for the vehicle, which has 80,000 miles on it. Fields and City Supervisor Bruce Pyles checked the cruiser and approved it.

The city paid about $42,000 for its last new cruiser, City Clerk Mary Howell said.

In other business:

  • Council agreed the city supervisor will talk with a company that provides street sweeping services for $130 an hour. Recorder Bill Robertson saw the company at work in Oakland, Md., and inquired about it. Kingwood’s street sweeper is 20 years old and needs repairs. A new one costs $180,000 to $120,000, council said.
  • Council accepted a bid of about $63,000 from State of the Art Roofing to reroof the recycling building. The bid must be approved by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The money is part of a $74,639 DEP grant. Tests done on the roof did not find any asbestos present, Councilman Mike Lipscomb said.
  • Council approved applying for a $5,000 grant from the State DEP Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan Grant Program. The money, which requires a local match, would be used to help tear down dilapidated structures.
  • Council agreed to meet with someone from the State Tax Commissioner’s office to learn more about a municipal sales tax.
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