Wellsburg council hears concerns

WELLSBURG — Tensions ran high when the topic of another salary increase was brought up at the Wellsburg City Council meeting Monday.

A $1 an hour increase was suggested for the street department and clerical city employees, similar to the pay increase that was approved by council for police officers May 28; however, some members of council found the increase unfair since sewage and water received an increase of $2 an hour on May 22.

Councilwoman Angel Adams suggested the raises are perceived as retaliation.

“We issued a one dollar raise to the police department to get out of a hole,” said Adams. “But if we really wanted to make things fair, why issue two dollar raises for sewage and water?”

Mayor Sue Simonetti disagreed with Adams.

“There are issues with sewage and water too, you all just don’t hear about it because you’re not at the board meetings,” said Simonetti. “This is not retaliation. We are bringing each department where they should be.”

Councilman Charles Harris noted that additional requests for raises were why he initally voted against the police department raises.

Harris said he wanted to distribute the raises at one time, and Councilman Daniel Dudley agreed.

“I wish I knew at the time that an officer on the council would be with the police department,” said Dudley. “He had a vote. He should have sat out.”

Dudley’s comment was in reference to former Councilman Tom Diserio, who’s resignation from the Wellsburg City Council was approved at Mondays meeting.

“Well, we can’t get give raises to everyone else and not them,” said Adams.

The council members voted 5-1 in favor of the $1 raise for street department and clerical city employees.

Police Chief Richard Ferguson noted the raise distribution of one-two-one was unfair and plans to be added onto the agenda for the next meeting in order to discuss the pay increases.

Other matters discussed at Monday’s meeting were concerns of heavy trucks driving on Washington Pike.

City resident Charlene Smith said that about two weeks ago a nitrogen truck hit a pick-up truck near her house.

“I was informed by Ferguson that this was the seventh or eighth time,” said Smith.

Smith wanted to know what the city can do to help.

“Because of the trucks, my house shakes,” added Smith. “I can’t open my front door and I know it’s because my house is shifting.”

City Attorney Ryan Weld said he wants to schedule for the West Virginia Division of Highways to visit and hopefully issue signs. In the long run, Weld wants to widen the road to add an escape route and areas for trucks to stop.

However, Harris said Weld’s plans won’t solve the major problem with the road.

“Those are good, but the big issue is that the road is not designed to handle that type of traffic,” Harris said.

Simonetti said she has been trying to work with the DOH for a solution for nine years and will continue to do so.

“It is a complicated situation,” Simonetti noted.

At the end of the meeting Simonetti announced the City of Wellsburg is accepting letters of interest to fill the vacated seat of Third Ward Council. Anyone interested must live and be registered to vote in the Third Ward. The candidate selected will complete the remaining two years of an unexpired four-year term, at which time the coucilmember can be elected into the position.

Letters of interest should be sent to Simonetti at 70 Town Square by 3 p.m., June 28.

(Linder can be contacted at tlinder@heraldstaronline.com)