The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 8, 2013

Ronceverte swears in new mayor

RONCEVERTE — Less than a month after winning a three-way race in decisive fashion, Ronceverte Mayor David Smith presided over a council meeting for the first time July 1.

“It’s an honor to be in this seat; it’s weird to be in this seat,” remarked Smith, a former city council member whose customary chair was two seats removed from the center spot occupied by the mayor.

“I really appreciate the support of folks in town,” Smith said.

The first order of business for the new mayor was swearing in a pair of re-elected council members — Shawn Honaker and Barbara Morgan — and appointing a committee to review applications for the council seat he just vacated.

Comprising Smith, Council member Bob Baker and Recorder Jan Johnson, the committee will interview candidates for the council position and report their recommendation to the full governing body.

Resumes from interested candidates must be received at City Hall no later than 4 p.m. July 24 in order for interviews to be scheduled.

A special session at which the full council will vote on the new member’s appointment is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 29.

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Council approved the second and final reading of an ordinance increasing building permit fees by $50 for each construction inspection that the city requires.

Basic permit fees are based on the cost of the construction work being done, with the city charging $25 for the first $1,000 and $3 for each additional $1,000.

Smith explained that the inspection fee being added by this ordinance represents the approximate cost of having the inspections performed, emphasizing it is not a money-maker for the city.

The vote to give final approval to the fee was 5-1, with Baker dissenting.

“We need to take a strong look at the permit process,” Baker maintained.

He said he knows of cases in which people have remodeled their homes without ever obtaining a city building permit, creating an unequal burden for law-abiding residents who pay fees, as required.

“We’re losing money,” he said.

Baker, who is a real estate agent, said it appears to him that people who abide by the law are being penalized by the city’s imposition of yet another fee.

In other business:

- Council approved revisions to the Police Department’s Policy and Directives handbook, as recommended by Police Chief J.R. Byer Jr.

- Council approved the first reading of an ordinance updating city code to reflect changes in state law regarding using cell phones while driving and making seat belt violations primary offenses, among other changes.

- Byer reported that his department worked 926 man-hours and answered 348 calls for service and investigations during June. City officers arrested 15 people and investigated three motor vehicle accidents last month, Byer said.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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