Belington mayor resigns

Belington Mayor Jody Haller tendered his resignation Thursday, two weeks after a resident publicly called for him to step down because Haller had moved outside city limits.

In a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, Belington City Council members unanimously voted to accept Haller’s resignation.

A local pastor, Richard L. Chambers of the Belington Church of the Nazarene, called for Haller’s resignation during the May 2 City Council meeting.

Chambers filed a complaint with the town in April questioning Haller’s legitimacy as mayor.

During the May 2 meeting, Haller was also involved in a heated discussion with Councilman Max Grove, who criticized the mayor for various issues, including his actions following the resignation two weeks earlier of the town’s former police chief, Keith Rowan.

The May 2 meeting ended with an executive session that Haller walked out of early, declining to comment before leaving City Hall.

Haller’s typed resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Inter-Mountain, was dated April 12, 2013, but that date was scratched out, and the handwritten date of May 2, 2013 was written below it.

The letter states: “I would like to express my deep apology and to thank everyone for their kindness and professional job performance. It has been a great and pleasant two years serving as mayor for you and the citizens of Belington. My goal was to get everyone working together so that it would filter out into the community and for everyone to be treated equal. I feel that is what happened.

“Council, I do hope that you all get more involved to address the day-to-day issues that do occur,” the letter continued. “Overall it has been a wonderful journey working with all of you. As for the ladies in the office, I couldn’t have done it without you. Susan (Bradley) and Anita (Thorne), you both have a lot of responsibility behind that desk. Keep up the good work.

“I’m not much for speeches but at this time I feel that it is only fair to you and the citizens to step down and resign as mayor due to personal reasons. Again, thank you all.”

The resignation letter did not include Haller’s name or signature.

Belington city officials did not inform The Inter-Mountain or any other media outlet that Friday morning’s special City Council meeting was scheduled.

The Inter-Mountain called Belington City Hall Thursday morning asking whether Haller had tendered his resignation. Belington employee Anita Thorne said that he had not. Two Inter-Mountain reporters spoke to Haller by phone Thursday, but he made no mention of his resignation.

When asked Friday why The Inter-Mountain was not notified of the emergency meeting, Belington Clerk/Recorder Susan Bradley said “the phone call from The Inter-Mountain was in the (Thursday) morning, but his resignation was received in the afternoon.”

When asked why no one called The Inter-Mountain back to inform them of the meeting, Bradley said, “It was a confusing, busy time and they did not think of calling you.”

City officials said Friday’s meeting was considered an emergency meeting. The West Virginia Sunshine Law does not require a 24-hour notice for emergency meetings. The law only requires an emergency meeting notice to be posted listing the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting and the facts and circumstances of the emergency. City officials said they did post such a notice prior to the meeting.

Calls to Haller’s cell phone Friday were not returned by press time.

Also during Friday’s emergency meeting, Grove made a motion to appoint Bradley as interim mayor, in compliance with the city charter. Her appointment was unanimously approved by council members, and will continue until the next regular City Council meeting, set for 7:30 p.m. May 16.