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Westover Council approves appointed civil service commission member

Appointment of a new civil service commission member was voted on during Monday night’s Westover city council meeting.

Five of the six council members present voted to approve the appointment of Justin White for the position. The appointment was recommended by the Westover Business Owners Association.

Ralph Mullins, first-ward councilmember, said the suggestion made by the association for White’s appointment does not coincide with state law. 

The Westover Business Owners Association is not registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State and has not been registered since it was revoked in 2015, Mullins said. Because of this, the association is not a legal entity and is unable to appoint White. 

Mayor Dave Johnson said that would be looked into, and proceeded with the vote to approve the appointment.

Minutes and communication

Mullins said he has noticed errors within the minutes from previous council meetings. He said one of these occurrences was found in the minutes from a meeting held on Oct. 5. In these minutes, he said what was said during the meeting was not accurately described in the minutes.

Although he understands minutes are not written word for word for brevity, changing what occurred at the meeting within the minutes should not be condoned, Mullins said.

Mullins said he also recently found that the audio recordings taken during council are deleted following each meeting. He suggested council begin keeping a file of the recordings rather than deleting them to ensure an accurate record of what transpires is available.

“At a time when public confidence has been shaken with many, having the only record of our meetings be inaccurate by omission or otherwise, does nothing to help restore confidence,” Mullins said. 

Discussion over lack of communication within council was also discussed.

 A new civil lawsuit against the Westover Police alleges officers Dalton and Carver used excessive force on plaintiff William Cox. The lawsuit names The City of Westover, Officer Aaron Dalton and Officer Justice Carver as defendants. 

Mullins said the council was only made aware of the suit through the media. He said council should have been made aware of this incident.

“From what I understand, there was an internal investigation, and council was not made aware,” Mullins said. “And that is the issue. The issue is communication.”

Tim Stranko, city attorney, said the reason council was not made aware sooner is because the city has yet to be served regarding the civil lawsuit.

“From a legal perspective, there is no lawsuit until we are certain,” he said. “Once we are served, of course, [council] will receive a full report on the nature of the complaint.”

Other business

Council unanimously approved a $500 sponsorship for Empty Bowls Monongalia. Council has contributed similar sponsorships in previous years.

Several bids were also voted on during the meeting, including for a new pick-up truck and a variety of items for the Westover Police Department. 

The lowest of the three bids for the new pick-up truck was selected at $30,091.56 from C. Harper Ford in Belle Vernon, Pa.

Bids for furniture, uniforms, guns and vests were voted on for the Westover Police Department. The lowest bids for each were voted on and approved unanimously.

The next council meeting is set to be held 6 p.m. on Feb. 16.

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