The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 28, 2013

Sopher suggests workshops to find new mayor

BECKLEY — During the Beckley Common Council meeting Tuesday, Councilman Tom Sopher suggested that Council consider participating in a series of workshops to prepare for the selection of a new mayor.

His proposal includes four workshops to be hosted the third Tuesday of each month, from September to December, to provide a smooth transition into new leadership for the City of Beckley.

“We’re four months away from a new mayor. I’ve made a proposal of four workshops. We talked about being transparent. This is how we can be transparent.”

The first workshop would determine each council member’s stance toward mayoral selection, the mayor would be asked for his input and a Municipal League representative would be asked to speak about the issue.

Letters of intent and vision statements would also be requested from any interested candidates at this meeting.

The second workshop would entail reviewing the letters of intent and vision statements from potential candidates.

The third workshop would be an opportunity for potential candidates to address Council, followed by a question and answer session.

The final workshop would narrow down the nominees for the position. City attorney Bill File and recorder-treasurer Byrd White would be asked to attend to explain the process of nominations and how to move forward during the vote.

He also suggested a special council meeting the first Tuesday of the new year, Jan. 7, 2014, to select the new mayor.

“I don’t think it’s too soon to be looking into this,” Sopher said. “We need to be making an effort to move forward and replace this man who’s going to be very hard to replace.”

Discussion of the workshops for the mayoral selection will be placed on the agenda for the next council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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Four bids were received for the renovation of the two-story historic log home at the youth museum; $78,200 from FPS Building in Prosperity, $119,000 from Olentangy Restoration in Marion, Ohio, $112,930 from Past Respects, LLC in Walton, and $92,642 from Allegheny Restoration in Beckley.

A bid was awarded to West Virginia Tractor for $32,900 for the modifications and repairs of the roof at Beckley Fire Station No. 1.

Finley Fire Equipment in Ohio was awarded the bid for $236,423 for 40 self-contained breathing apparatus for the for Beckley Fire Department.

The first reading was held of an ordinance to amend and re-enact portions of the city code (Chapter 4, Article 1, Section 4-1 through 4-403) pertaining to the adoption of the state building code.

Mayor Pugh asked Chief Code Enforcement Officer Bob Cannon if he would hold a workshop and discussion for the language code in the ordinance; Cannon said he would be happy to.

Pugh declared September National Preparedness Month. All citizens, businesses and organizations are encouraged to prepare a plan of action in case of an emergency. Director of Emergency Operations for the City of Beckley Kevin Taylor was attending a training seminar and was not present at the meeting, but Pugh said he would pass the ordinance along to Taylor when he returns.

Under old business, Councilwoman Ann Worley asked that everyone attend the Sept. 19 public meeting for the city’s comprehensive plan.

The meeting will be held at the John W. Eye Center from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and will be hosted by Poggemeyer Design Group.

“It’s a very important time in our city to plan the next 10 years. Save the date!”

Sopher asked Pugh if the Beckley Intermodal Gateway project is being managed by the city now and Pugh said yes. Sopher raised concerns over grass being cut, but City Attorney Bill File said there is one area that has been designated as a rain garden and signs will be erected soon to inform the public about the space.

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