City of Philippi eyeing new ordinances

Following the examples of surrounding cities, the Philippi City Council now is considering the adoption of a bath salts ordinance.

“While we have some bath salts problems in Philippi and Barbour County, it’s not our main drug problem,” Mayor Jerry Mouser said. “However, surrounding jurisdictions have passed laws to prevent this. We wanted to get ahead of the game. We asked our city attorney to draft a bath salts ordinance.”

The first reading of the ordinance drafted by City Attorney John Ashcom took place at Tuesday’s council meeting. The ordinance prohibits the possession of synthetic drugs or other drug substances, City Administrator Karen Weaver said.

The ordinance will be on the agenda for the next Philippi City Council meeting at 7 p.m., Sept. 17 at Philippi City Hall. It was not the only ordinance that was placed before the council members for a first reading.

An ordinance that adopts the state law enforcing seat belt use in vehicles as a primary offense will allow the city’s police officers to enforce that law under a local code. Part of the revenue generated from violations of the ordinance would go to the city of Philippi.

“Since we have the responsibility and the expense of enforcing that code, we felt that we should reap a share of the monies for that,” Mouser said.

Also appearing before council members for a first reading was an ordinance adopting the state codes that prohibit the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle, such as texting while driving. These actions are now a primary offense under state law. This ordinance also would bring the city revenue in the same way.

In a work session prior to the meeting, city council members discussed complaints from citizens, who said they believe that police officers should also not be allowed to text or talk on the phone while driving. Mouser said that police officers and fire officials are exempt from the code.

“We’re supposed to lead by example,” Councilman Terrence Boyd said. “Give them Bluetooth (headsets) or something.”

Many council members appeared to be in favor of the idea of providing headsets to the fire and police officials. Weaver said that texting and driving is dangerous for anybody.

Council members also approved a bid to purchase a container for the back of a transfer truck from a company called Wastequip. The bid for the container was $25,800. Weaver said the common price for a container is in the $40,000 range.

The council approved two draw-down requests for two different projects. The first draw-down request was for the Philippi Water Plant, a project that Weaver said is nearing completion. The request was for $13,677.30 to pay Shook Construction.

The second request was for the Philippi Waste Water Treatment Plant, a construction project that has only recently been underway. The amount was for $94,794.65, which will be divided among the engineers and contractors.

The city council voted to go into executive session, citing personnel matters as the reason.