Elkins hopes to add three police officers

The Elkins Police Department has openings for three new police officers, including a vacancy created by the resignation of a probationary officer who had been placed on administrative leave and was being investigated by the West Virginia State Police.

At Thursday’s Elkins City Council meeting, Elkins Police Chief H.R. White said about 30 applications had been received for Saturday’s Civil Service exam, which he hopes will provide suitable candidates for three full-time officer positions.

After the meeting, White said one of the vacancies came about with the resignation of the probationary officer.

White placed Christopher Boatwright, 19, on administrative leave in December.

“The Elkins Police Department placed an officer on administrative leave over an issue for which the department has zero tolerance, and we are conducting an internal investigation on the issue,” White told The Inter-Mountain in December.

The Elkins Detachment of the West Virginia State Police confirmed in December there was an ongoing investigation involving an EPD member, but could provide no further information.

– During Thursday’s meeting, White also told council his department may obtain a second canine officer this year.

“A businessman in town is very willing to give us money for another dog,” White said, adding he is looking into the possibility.

– Also during Thursday’s meeting, City of Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley told council more than 1.2 million gallons of water were lost in Wednesday’s water main break near Davis Memorial Hospital.

“That translates to a half day’s pumping of water,” Pingley said, adding that parts of Elkins lost water pressure after the break.

Pingley said the city hopes to lift the boil water advisory today in effect for residents in 2nd Ward, 3rd Ward and 4th Ward beginning on Sycamore Street, including the area north of Sycamore Street, Crystal Springs and Highland Park.

Officials are waiting for water samples to be analyzed before they can give the “all clear” signal, Pingley said. The samples have been sent to a laboratory in Clarksburg, the lab closest to Elkins, he said.

– Pingley also addressed rumors that “fracking water” from Marcellus shale natural gas production has been dumped at the Elkins wastewater treatment plant.

“We’re really strictly regulated on what we accept and process over there,” Pingley said. “Marcellus shale byproducts are definitely not on that list. In fact, at this point there are no wastewater plants in the state of West Virginia that are accepting fracking byproducts. They did a pilot program in Clarksburg but that was not successful so they closed that down.”

Pingley said the trucks seen allegedly dumping the fracking byproducts were actually city trucks dumping leachate from the city landfill.

“We are permitted to do that,” Pingley said, adding that during winter months as many as six to eight trucks a day dump the leachate at the plant.

“As far as us ever accepting (fracking byproducts), the DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) would line us up against the wall and shoot us if we started doing that, if the EPA (federal Environmental Protection Agency) didn’t get us first,” Pingley said.

– Among the building permits approved at Thursday’s meeting was a demolition permit to tear down the Elkins Corporate Center, which locals often unofficially refer to as the “Taj Mahal.”

The permit states the cost of tearing down the three-story building will be $20,000. Last March local businessman Craig Phillips paid $420,000 for the visually striking building and its 3.67-acre plot at 388 Beverly Pike. No businesses have been located in the building for several years.