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MPD Chief Powell: The loss is staggering for us

MORGANTOWN — Several members of the Morgantown Police Department lined the back wall of the Monongalia County Commission chamber Tuesday evening as Morgantown City Council opened its meeting with a moment of silence for Zane Breakiron 

A patrol officer first class and K-9 handler with the MPD, Breakiron, 34, was killed in an off-duty car accident believed to have occurred in the early morning hours of June 3 on W.Va. 43 toward the Pennsylvania border. 

Morgantown Police Chief Eric Powell broke the silence.

“The loss is staggering for us,” he said, flanked by a wreath encircling Breakiron’s photo. 

“He had this contagious smile, from ear to ear, and he was rarely seen without a smile on his face. That sort of encapsulates his entire persona and the way he went about his daily life and his job as a police officer,” Powell said. “He had a genuine empathy and he cared about the people he was serving.”  

Later in the meeting, City Clerk Christine Wade said Breakiron was a tremendous advocate for the Morgantown Police Department, noting he played a significant role in the testing process for potential officers — and then some. 

“When we would look over our applications for police officer, there’s a question on the application that says, ‘How did you hear about this vacancy?’ Many times, it would say ‘Zane Breakiron,’” Wade said. “It’s going to be a horrible loss for the department. My thoughts and prayers are going to the family and our PD family as well.” 

As for Tuesday’s business items, council passed on first reading an ordinance purchasing approximately 105 acres of property for $1,572,450 in support of the current and future Morgantown Municipal Airport expansion plans. 

“A portion of this land is needed immediately for the runway extension project that we’re currently working on. We’ll actually need it for the next phase. The additional property is for future use,” Airport Director Jonathan Vrabel said, explaining the land is directly south of the airport runway.  

The city is buying the property from James L. Laurita Sr. Family Limited Partnership. 

In other airport news, council approved a contract with Lombardi Development Co. for $199,300 to reconfigure the airport’s screening area to accommodate new TSA equipment arriving next month. 

Vrabel said the changes will include customer improvements, including a new restroom in the boarding area and a realignment of the shared screening and boarding space. 

Lastly, council approved a $129,800 bid from Schindler Elevator for a new elevator as part of the ongoing Morgantown City Hall renovation project.