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Elkins asks state to alter hiring requirements

ELKINS — The city of Elkins is seeking to submit a Home Rule amended application aimed at making changes to the hiring process for new fire fighters in the Elkins Fire Department.

Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton explained the changes during a virtual Elkins Rules and Ordinance Committee on Thursday. The city wants to seek waivers for three rules set by state code when hiring through the Fire Public Service Commission.

Sutton said one of the changes they are seeking is a waiver to the age requirement to apply for a position. She said currently the cut-off age is 35, but a recent change to state law increases that age for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. military to 40.

Sutton explained to The Inter-Mountain that the city is hoping to get a waiver from the West Virginia Home Rule Board to waive the requirement of military service and be able to hire candidates up to 40 years old.

Sutton said the second change being requested is the requirement to have three names for potential hire after testing is complete. Sutton said the city wants to waive that requirement and be able to hire with just one qualified applicant on the list.

She said currently three names must be on the list before a hire can be made. She said if there are less than three names after testing is completed, the city has to test again until they get three qualified candidates, and in such cases it takes two to three months to complete the testing.

The final change the city is seeking is to the requirement that a job candidate be a city resident for one year before being hired.

Sutton said similar changes were previously made to the Elkins Police Department hiring process to assist in hiring new officers. She said the city must have the application to the West Virginia Home Rule Board by Sept. 21 for their next meeting. She added that representatives from the city will have to attend the meeting and explain the requests.

She said the board will vote on the matter the same day. If the application is approved by the Home Rule Board, the measure then will come to Elkins City Council as an ordinance for a vote.

The committee passed the measure to submit the application for the waivers Thursday.

In other Rules and Ordinance Committee action:

∫ The committee approved the codification of Elkins City Code. The city has received the new code from the publishers and it must now be adopted by city council. City Attorney Geraldine Roberts explained the city began the process in 2019 to bring the city code up to date. She said the last time the city code was updated was 1991.

The new code will include all the ordinances passed by the city up until late last year. The new code will be available online for residents and will be updated online whenever a new ordinance is passed. The city will receive a new paper copy of the code each year.

The committee passed the measure to Elkins City Council for consideration.

∫ During the July 16 Elkins City Council meeting, members of the Elkins Make it Quiet group asked the city to make adjustments to the current noise ordinance.

The group said noise coming from the Hamer Fuel Pellet Plant in the city’s industrial park is harmful to many residents.

The group presented a petition with 200 signatures form residents asking the city to do something to combat the noise.

Sutton told committee members Thursday the matter would be on the agenda for the next Rules and Ordinance Committee meeting, set for Aug. 13.

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