Brooke Commissioners questioned about towing

Warren Scott TOWING DISCUSSED — The Brooke County Commission, during its Tuesday meeting, was questioned about the county’s towing policy by owners of a local towing service.

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission, during its meeting Tuesday morning, was questioned about the county’s policy for towing services.

Logan Field and Bill DeGarmo of Seven Ranges Towing & Recovery of Wellsburg questioned the county’s emergency 911 center dispatching towing services located in Hancock County.

They said in order to serve Hancock and Ohio counties, they must have locations in those counties, and believe that’s the case in all West Virginia counties.

The two said county officials should support local businesses.

Brooke County Sheriff Rich Beatty said the two Weirton-based towing services have equipment for towing heavy vehicles and it seems unfair to restrict their calls from the 911 center to only those situations.

He told Field and DeGarmo he will include all local towing services in the 911 center’s rotation for call-outs as long as they provide reliable, quality service.

Field asked if the sheriff would consider calling upon towing services nearest to the site of an accident. He added that it’s more difficult for his Wellsburg-based service to reach Weirton in a timely manner and suggested the same would be true for a Weirton towing service responding to an accident in the Bethany area.

Beatty said he will consider it.

Commission President A.J. Thomas said the county’s sheriff is charged with establishing a policy for towing services used for accidents involving the sheriff’s department.

In recent years a handful of towing services were placed on a rotation without a formal policy.

Since taking office in January, Beatty has been working on a policy with input from the towing services.

To be licensed by the state Public Service Commission, towing services must be bonded and insured.

Brooke County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Adams said earlier the ability of a towing service to securely store a vehicle also is an issue because some may be impounded in the course of an investigation.

In most cases, and especially when an accident isn’t under investigation by law enforcement, the owner of a damaged vehicle may have it towed by whatever business he or she chooses.

In other business, County Commissioner Tim Ennis offered condolences to the family of Rodney Smail, a long-time emergency medical technician for the Brooke County Ambulance Service, who died on Feb. 9 at the age of 57.

Smail also was a member of the Wellsburg Volunteer Fire Department, security officer for the Allegheny County Police Port Authority and member of Wellsburg Church of the Nazarene and its softball team.

Ennis said whether as a first responder, neighbor or friend, Smail always was eager to help.

“He would do anything for anybody.”

Also on Tuesday, Thomas shared information about civil rights leader Leon Sullivan as part of an ongoing observance of Black History Month.

Born and raised in Charleston, W.Va., Sullivan was inspired to fight for equal rights after a drugstore owner refused to sell him a soft drink. He went on to enter the ministry and moved first to New Jersey and later to Philadelphia, where he helped to build a congregation of 6,000, one of the largest in the U.S. at the time.

Sullivan organized an equal rights march in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s, successfully pushed for the hiring of black Americans through a boycott of various Philadelphia businesses and influenced the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s endeavors for civil rights.

Thomas noted Sullivan focused on ending apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s, working closely with Nelson Mandela, and was the first Black American to serve on the board of directors of General Motors.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)


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