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Morgantown Council votes unanimously to hire Haws as next city manager

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to hire Kim Haws as its next city manager.

The vote comes five days after the city announced the selection of Haws, who spent 20 years in the same position in Bridgeport before the council there opted not to renew his contract in January of 2019.

The selection was the result of a national search conducted by Novak Consulting at a cost of $24,300. That process  resulted in more than 100 applicants.

Wednesday marked the first time the hiring of a new city manager was raised in public session. Council was unanimous in its stated satisfaction with the process as well as the result.

“We did a nationwide search looking for the best candidate we could find, and we managed to find it in our own back yard,” Councilor Bill Kawecki said. “I also want to say to him, as he comes to us, that he’s inheriting a very fine group of people and a very good organization. So we’ll make him welcome. I hope he will appreciate what we have to offer, and I hope together we can move forward to make this community what we always strive for it to be.”

According to the city, Haws will begin on or about Dec. 4.

Council also expressed its appreciation for Emily Muzzarelli, who moved from assistant city manager to interim city manager upon Paul Brake’s departure in May. Muzzarelli did not apply for the city manager position.

City Clerk Christine Wade said she spoke for a number of city employees who enjoyed working under Muzzarelli. 

“We’ve spoken about what a fantastic job she’s done,” Wade said, praising Muzzarelli’s hands-on approach. “I liked to see you. It was nice and the other employees in other facilities enjoyed you walking around and talking to the employees. We appreciate that. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

In other news, all seven members of council expressed concerns about ongoing trash and recycling collection issues within their respective wards.

Issues with the city’s exclusive contractor, Republic Services, have been consistent over the years, and have resurfaced in recent months, prompting the creation of a special committee calling itself The Trash Force.

As a part of the current contact with Republic, the provider must maintain  $5,000 in an account from which the city can draw  penalties for continued missed service.

For example, a $50 penalty can be assessed for each failure to collect waste or recyclables within one business day of notification of missed service. Each additional missed service on that account within a six-month period is another $50.

There seemed to be an agreement among councilors that it’s time to begin collecting those penalties. It was also noted that the city needs to create a standardized method for reporting and documenting citizen complaints.

Lastly, Muzzarelli announced that the city has been awarded $580,000 in Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) Grant funding for a pair of projects.

The first will be the construction of the Pleasant Street streetscape project, which will include improvements to sidewalks and lighting, as well as the shoring up of the old vaults located beneath the sidewalks.

Additionally, the funds will support the design of a Morgantown Municipal Airport streetscape that will include an ADA-compliant sidewalk connecting the terminal to Hart Field Road.