By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
The project to widen Locust Avenue around Fairmont State University and Fairmont General Hospital is beginning to move forward.
At Wednesday’s Fairmont City Council meeting, city manager Jay Rogers said that the West Virginia Division of Highways has awarded the contract for the widening of Locust Avenue.
While Rogers said they do not yet have a start date, he stated that the completion date was specified in the contract as Sept. 30 of this year.
The improvements would include widening Locust Avenue between Oakwood Road and just south of FGH, and the complete resurfacing of Locust Avenue between the Country Club Road intersection and Oakwood Road.
“Those are marked improvements we look forward to seeing, hopefully beginning in the spring,” Rogers said.
The council also approved a change to the Fairmont Police Civil Service Commission regulations that will affect promotions.
For police officers to be considered for promotion, they must serve a certain number of years and must take a test. The list of officers who have taken the test is then ranked according to a combination of years served and performance on the test. The city manager in Fairmont then appoints someone out of the presented list.
According to state code, new tests are given when an officer becomes newly eligible for the position because of years of experience or if the current list of eligible candidates for promotion has been adopted. When a new test is given, all interested in being considered for a promotion should take the test, regardless of whether a position is available at the time.
Local Fairmont code also previously allowed any officer who had chosen not to take the test, but was eligible to take the test at that time, to ask for a test to be held. This could be done at any time, and would then make all interested in the promotion retest.
The Police Civil Service Commission recommended removing this local “opt-out” provision, after meeting with Fairmont police officers to discuss the issue.
Chief of Police Kelley Moran said that the local rule had “caused hardship” in the department, and had been abused.
“When you have an eligibility list, and you have a patrolman who doesn’t want somebody to be promoted, someone who wants to block someone from being promoted for personal reasons, they can use this rule,” Moran said. “It’s kind of unfair.”
The testing is expensive and time-consuming to carry out, and the rule also slows down the promotion process, he said.
“If you’re eligible to take the test, you should stand up and take the test. If you don’t want the promotion, you can turn it down,” Moran said.
The amendment passed unanimously.
In other business:
• The city is taking bids for the demolition of three structures on Cleveland Avenue until Jan. 24. The three dilapidated structures are located just below Hillcrest Road, Rogers said.
“We’ll be pleased to get those done,” Rogers said.
• Council members praised recent developments on breaking-and-entering cases.
However, Rogers said that, after speaking to Moran, he wanted to remind the public to pay attention.
“There’s still a message to the public, and that’s to be vigilant and know your neighborhood,” Rogers said. “Pay attention to the people that are walking suspiciously, carrying backpacks.”
• Rogers gave the street maintenance charge collection report for the period ending Dec. 31. Between July 13 and Dec. 13, $390,985.56 was collected from residents, and $291,993.63 was collected from non-residents, with a distribution of 56 percent collected from residents, and 44 percent collected from non-residents.
A refund of $608 was paid to residents who were also charged a street maintenance charge as an employee and a resident.
Email Colleen S. Good at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.