City could require residency

The Buckhannon City Council will consider the possibility of placing residency restrictions on fire officials and other city personnel.

Residency requirements would establish a distance from town in which emergency personnel can live, which city leaders believe would enhance the response time for an emergency. In making the move, the City Council will have to consider what agencies would be affected, officials said.

City Attorney David McCauley said the proposed residency requirement was just at the “first discussion level.”

“While we’re talking about the fire department, it makes sense to also talk at least about the police department,” McCauley said. “What about these other essential services that sometimes can also evolve to an emergency situation?”

The City Council also could consider placing the requirements on first responders and other personnel that could be dispatched in the event of an emergency, such as the recent derecho or Superstorm Sandy.

The requirements could encompass public safety officials and other essential emergency safety personnel such as water, sewer, street employees or even all city employees, McCauley said.

He added that council also could consider whether or not the residency requirements would affect existing personnel who may not fall within the requirements.

There are a number of aspects to consider when reviewing the possibility of establishing the restrictions, city officials said.

“It’s not anything that’s intended to create any hardships for our current employees,” McCauley said.

At last week’s council meeting, McCauley recommended council review existing residency policies and consider adopting an existing residency policy from a sister city.

He said those policies already will have addressed any questions that could arise as a result of instating residency requirements.

In other news, Buckhannon police chief Matthew Gregory said the police department has taken on some new faces from West Virginia Wesleyan College to help out as interns.

Last fall, two students already were on board with the police department and working on special projects like the mock crime and trial that gifted students in the county took part.

Student Kaitlyn Brown designed the scenario in which gifted students could participate. She will remain with the police department this semester.

The second student, Patricia Sherrard, who has compiled a 50-year history of the police department, will not be able to stay with the city as she transferring to another school.

Andrew VaCamp, though, will take over where Sherrard left off.

Gregory said the work is a preliminary history that requires a great deal of research and is the start of a larger history project at the police department.

Gregory said two additional students have partnered with criminal justice students, Randy Billups and Sharon O’Hearn.

The City Council also heard from Laura Ward, the executive director for Country Roads Transit and the Randolph County Senior Center. Country Roads Transit is based in Elkins.

Ward spoke to council about the transit’s role in Buckhannon.

She said Country Roads Transit was very thankful to have the generous support of the Buckhannon City Council, and she’s hopeful that its support continues. Ward also said Country Road Transit is working hard to build relationships in the Buckhannon area to increase its level of service.

“I think we’ve been successful from the last year to this one, in increasing the number of (West Virginia Wesleyan College) students that are riding,” Ward said.