Thursday's City Council meeting in Elkins started off with a surprise. Mayor Van Broughton immediately announced, "I would like our chief of police, Rob White, to come front and center."
Council members reacted with comments including, "You're in trouble now." However, White was in anything but trouble.
"I would like to recognize Chief White for 25 years of outstanding service," Broughton said while handing White a plaque commemorating the event.
Elkins Police Chief Rob White, left, is presented a plaque and the key to the city by Mayor Van Broughton, center, as Councilman Mitch Marstiller looks on. White is retiring after 25 years of service to the city. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson)
"He's been a great role model for the city," said Broughton. "I have known him as a teenager and up to his early years as a patrolman and as him being police chief now," he said. "And I have respected him every day."
Broughton also granted White the key to the city, and thanked his wife Kelly for sacrificing the long hours White has served the city.
"Thanks for the plaque and key. It really means the world to me," said White. "I didn't expect that.
"But I'd like to say that no one gets where they're at without the help of others," he said. "I've got a lot of folks to thank: my wife, my mother and father, and a lot of people throughout my career."
Broughton said he can remember playing two-hand touch football as a teenager with White. He said he would never have thought that 35 years later the two of them would be standing next to each other as chief of police and mayor.
Also on Thursday evening, City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 171 to amend the Elkins City Code to create a rental registration program.
The ordinance states that no unit can be rented unless a written application for a Certificate of Use and Occupancy has been filed, or a valid Certificate of Use and Occupancy has been issued for the unit by the city's building inspector.
Within six years of the passage of Ordinance 171, the building inspector will inspect all units in constructed before the passage of the ordinance. If a unit passes inspection, the owner will be charged a $30 compliance inspection fee and receive the certificate. A multi-unit building will be charged a maximum fee of $150 regardless of the number of units. Violations of Ordinance 171 can result in fines and penalties.
Council members explained that the ordinance was necessary to ensure the safety of Elkins residents.
"I know of one rental where the back porch is caved in and the front porch is completely removed with holes - large holes that people could fall in," Councilman Mark Scott said. "If someone were to get hurt, a child to get hurt, then they're going to come back to us ... that's why I'm supporting the passage of this ordinance."
"Even without the liability aspect, I feel that it's our humane duty," said Councilwoman Nanci Bross-Fregonara.
Council also passed Ordinance 172, repealing and revising existing city code regulating the location of video lottery establishments.
Ordinance 172 lists distance requirements for limited video lottery establishments. However, the final paragraph of the ordinance exempts any limited video lottery establishment on the property known as the Tygart Valley Mall from the previous listed distance requirements. A video lottery establishment on the Tygart Valley Mall property must only follow the requirement of maintaining a distance of 1,000 feet from another video lottery establishment.
Council members reminded each other that anyone wishing to sell or rent chairs during the Mountain State Forest Festival must receive written authorization from the council. Regardless of profit or non-profit purposes, this permission is required according to Elkins City Code.
The council approved a list of vendor invoice payments. The report total came to $1,879,860.39 for checks dating from Sept. 3 to Sept. 16.
Council voted to cancel its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3 due to the Forest Festival. The next Elkins City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in Elkins City Hall.