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Westover Council approves member’s resignation

WESTOVER—Westover Councilmember-at-Large Stephen Lawrence’s resignation was unanimously approved at Monday night’s meeting after he moved away due to unforeseen family circumstances.

According to the city’s charter, the remaining council members have 30 days to appoint and approve a new council member to fill the vacant position. The person appointed would hold office until the next city election.

First Ward council member Ralph Mullins suggested during the meeting the council should instead consider holding a special election. He said this will allow residents to vote on who should be selected for council.

“One of my perspectives is that here, over the last year or so, public confidence has been shaken,” Mullins said. “I think the public has a right to pick who the next councilman is going to be.” 

Councilmember-at-Large Steve Andryzcik said one concern he has with holding a special election would be the cost. According to Mayor Dave Johnson, holding an additional election could cost between $3,000 and $5,000.

“We will do what is best for the city,” Johnson said. 

During the citizens’ comments, Charles “Alli” Jackson, a resident of Westover, said he is interested in filling the vacant spot. He said Westover is a diverse city, but city council lacks minority representation, which is something he hopes to change.

“If they need a council seat filled, I’m more than willing to fill it,” Jackson said. “The city can get ready though, because I am not a rubber stamp for anybody.”

Other business

Dates for the Spring Clean-up have been set for April 19-23. On those days, the City of Westover’s sanitation department welcomes residents to leave larger items out for pickup at no additional cost. 

Council voted to unanimously approve two systems introduced by Chief Joe Adams for the police department. The first was an Axon taser battery-activated body camera system which links police officers’ tasers to all body-camera systems worn by officers. When an officer turns on a taser, all body cameras within a certain radius will automatically be activated.

Although the department’s body-camera policy required officers to turn on cameras during all calls, Adams said this can help prevent human error, such as an officer forgetting to activate it. 

The second system is a live-scan solution from IDEMIA, which helps improve finger-print image quality. Adams said Westover is one of the only departments in the county without this system.

Johnson said the council is also continuing to communicate with the City of Morgantown regarding partnering with the Mountaineer Regional Sobering Center. The center is set to open this fall at the former Ramada Inn on Scott Avenue. The center aims to provide a short-term care alternative to emergency rooms for individuals suffering from the effects of alcohol or drug intoxication.  

He suggested council table the vote until the next council meeting when more information about the partnership will be available. Council members unanimously agreed.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 19.