Philippi Fire Chief Weighs In On Fire Fee
On Monday, February 27, The Barbour Democrat reporting staff sat down with Philippi Fire Department Chief Dave Utt to discuss the passing of the fire fee by the City of Philippi. Chief Utt wanted to clarify some of the information circling the community regarding the fire fee.
The fire fee passed by Philippi City Council will charge residence owners within the city limits a fee, the rates for which are set by the ordinance as follows:
Owner of a Single Family Residential - $60.00 per year or $5.00 per month
Owner of Dual Residential Unit - $120.00 per year or $10.00 per month
Owner of Multiple Family Residential Unit - $5.00 per unit
Owner of a Non-Residential Unit - $60.00 per year or $5.00 per month
The fee will be extended to the entire first-response coverage area of the Philippi Fire Department, which currently makes up about 80 percent of the county.
The 100 percent of the revenue generated from the fee will go towards the Philippi Fire Department’s expenses. According to Chief Utt, it costs about $300,000 per year to keep the fire department functioning. Insurance costs alone total about $45,000 per year between. Even with funds from the state, the City of Philippi, the Barbour County Commission, and multiple fundraisers, less than half of operating costs are covered. While the department has sought grant funds, these funds are highly competitive, sought after, and difficult to be awarded. As such, the department sought out City Council’s help to establish a fire fee.
In order to keep the Philippi Fire Department, Utt says the fee is necessary and the best route for the City of Philippi in the long run. Chief Utt also says it’s been a long time coming.
Over the past few years, the state has adopted new standards and regulations for fire departments and their equipment. Utt explained that volunteer fire departments are now held to the same safety standards as paid fire departments. These regulations have significantly increased the operating and maintenance costs for fire departments as departments must keep members’ training and equipment up to date.
“There is no way that the city or county can finance a fire department with all of these stipulations on them now,” says Utt. “The state is making every department be professional in order to be safe. Even if the county and city could come up with a little more money, there is no way they could come up with enough to match what it costs to run [the fire department] these days.”
Training classes can cost as much as $1,000 per member in some cases. The average price for a single member’s equipment, which includes their safety suit, helmet, gloves, and boots, is about $4,000 and must be replaced every 10 years. However, equipment must also be replaced when it comes into contact with hazardous materials, such as diesel fuel and oil. As our local fire departments are the only departments equipped with vehicle and other rescue, the risk of coming into contact with such materials is frequent.
Furthermore, the costs of keeping equipment up to date and in working order have also increased. The fire department must now test much of its equipment each year, and the testing must be completed by a third-party company. Although this testing assures that all equipment is functioning safely, it has also increased expenses.
If the department fails to pass its states inspection, it will lose its certification, which can cause home owners’ insurance rates to increase. Because of this, Utt says, the fire fee is the best way to tackle the department’s financial concerns, as residence owners would be compensated from insurance claims in the event of a fire.
This year, from January 1 to February 27, the Philippi Fire Department has already responded to more than 75 calls. The department responded to a total of 405 calls last year with a zero non-response rate. This year, Chief Utt expects the department’s calls to surpass last year’s total.
For questions, comments, and concerns, contact the Philippi Fire Department anytime at 304-457-1234. A copy of the fire fee ordinance may be obtained at Philippi City Hall.
24 Persons Indicted At February 2017 Term Barbour County Grand Jury
The February 2017 Term of the Barbour County Grand Jury met on February 27. Presentments were made by Prosecuting Attorney, Thomas B. Hoxie, and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Roger D. Curry. The Grand Jury was presided over by the Honorable Alan D. Moats, Circuit Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. Arraignment Hearings will be held on March 16, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Barbour County Courtroom before the Judge Moats.
The following individuals had felony and misdemeanor Indictments returned against them by the Grand Jury. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty:
James R. L'heureux, 21, Kennebunk, Maine, was indicted on
five counts Sexual Assault in the First Degree; fifteen counts Sexual Assault in the Third Degree and five Counts: Soliciting a Minor via Computer.
Clarissa F. Wilcox, 30, Folsom, was indicted on one count Burglary; one count Grand Larceny; one count Wanton Endangerment Involving a Firearm; one count Conspiracy and one count Destruction of Property.
Rebecca L. Marsh, 33, Philippi, was indicted on one count Burglary; one count Grand Larceny; one count Wanton Endangerment Involving a Firearm; one count Malicious Wounding; one count Conspiracy and one count Destruction of Property.
Robert D. Leash, 31, Belington, was indicted on two counts Wanton Endangerment Involving a Firearm; one count Prohibited Person in Possession of a Firearm; one count Violation of a Protective Order and
one count Fleeing on Foot.
Jerry L. Bennett, Jr., 27, Belington, one count Burglary; one count Grand Larceny and one count Conspiracy;
Lloyd T. Bennett, 21, Belington, was indicted on one count Burglary; one count Grand Larceny and one count Conspiracy.
Katherine M. Wyatt, 30, Beverly, was indicted on one count Burglary; one count Grand Larceny and one count Conspiracy.
Anick L. Kennedy, 24, Philippi, was indicted on one count Fleeing in Vehicle and one count Fleeing on Foot.
Madison D. Baisi, 21, Belington, was indicted on one count Child Neglect Creating Risk of Injury.
Renee R. Jones, 37, Belington, was indicted on five counts Forgery; three counts Uttering; two counts Fraud by Access Device; five counts Shoplifting-Third or Subsequent Offense and one count Conspiracy.
Cody R. Robinson, 23, Belington, was indicted on one count Shoplifting-Third or Subsequent Offense and one count Conspiracy.
Candace E. Mason, 37, Philippi, was indicted on two counts Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Shawn D. Newman, 31, Philippi, was indicted on two counts Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Matt E. Mayle, 36, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Bonnie K. Mayle, 39, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Boyd C. Mayle, 37, Flemington, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Carly S. Edgell, 44, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Nikki N. Riddle, 32, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Kenneth A. Graber, 29, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Adriana F. Pancake, 19, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Gregory S. Edwards, 48, Philippi, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Julie A. Cutright, 31, Belington, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy.
Kevin D. Pressley, 30, Fairmont, was indicted on one count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and one count Conspiracy
Suzanna C. Mayle, 45, Philippi, was indicted on one Count Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.
Barbour County Circuit Court Cases Heard Before Judge Alan D. Moats
The following six cases were presented by Thomas B. Hoxie, Prosecuting Attorney, on February 22, 2017:
Courtney A. Brown appeared for a plea and sentencing hearing. She was represented by her attorney, Jamella Lockwood. Ms. Brown entered a guilty plea to one felony count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Judge Moats sentenced Ms. Brown to a term of one to five years, which was held in abeyance, and Ms. Brown was placed on the Community Corrections Program.
Shelby A. Yeager appeared for a plea hearing. He was represented by his attorney, Aaron Yoho. Mr. Yeager entered a guilty plea to one felony count of failure to register or provide notice of change of sex offender registry information – second or subsequent offense. Judge Moats took Mr. Yeager’s plea under advisement and ordered the Probation Office to complete a home study to investigate Mr. Yeager’s current living arrangements in relation to an underage female who is living in close proximity.
Caitlin M. Findley appeared for a plea and sentencing hearing. She was represented by her attorney, Jamella Lockwood. Ms. Findley entered a guilty plea to one felony count of prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Judge Moats sentenced Ms. Findley to five years in the State Penitentiary, which was held in abeyance, and Ms. Findley was placed on the Community Corrections Program.
Joseph E. England appeared for a revocation hearing from his alternative sentence. He was represented by his attorney, Jamella Lockwood. On February 8, Mr. England was previously sentenced to one to 15 years for burglary and one year for the violation of a domestic violence protective order, which were held in abeyance, and Mr. England was placed on the Community Corrections Program. However, Mr. England failed to appear at Community Corrections on the morning of February 9 as previously ordered by Judge Moats. After a capias was issued for his arrest, Mr. England reported to Community Corrections in the late afternoon but tested positive for alcohol and marijuana. Judge Moats found that Mr. England had shown his unwillingness to comply with the rules of the community correction program by failing to report as ordered and by his continued drugs and alcohol use. Judge Moats then reinstated Mr. England’s original sentence to be served in the State Penitentiary.
Charles D. McCord appeared for a revocation hearing of his alternative sentence. Mr. McCord had been incarcerated since December 2, 2016, pending a hearing on this matter. He was represented by his attorney, Frank Cornette. Mr. McCord previously pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of Battery and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to one year in jail for each count, which was held in abeyance, and Mr. McCord was placed onto the Community Corrections Program. Tammy Narog, Director of the Community Corrections Program, stated that Mr. McCord had absconded from the Community Corrections Program and had previously been non-compliant, specifically by consuming alcohol and giving false reasons for failing to report to the program. Judge Moats gave Mr. McCord the option of either fully complying with the Community Corrections Program or staying in jail. Mr. McCord stated that he wanted to be on the community corrections program and apologized for his actions. Tammy Narog stated that she would accept him back into the program if his attitude had truly changed. Judge Moats granted Mr. McCord’s request to return to the program.
Debra K. Scott appeared for a status and bond modification hearing. She was represented by her attorney, James Hawkins. Debra Scott was indicted on a charges of attempted murder, malicious wounding, and other related charges. Defense counsel moved for Ms. Scott to be removed from home confinement as part of her bond supervision due to her compliance thus far and for a continuance until the next term of court, both of which were granted. Deputy Jennifer Baylor-Nines, who is in charge of home confinement, stated that Ms. Scott has been in full compliance, and Judge Moats stated that because he is now more aware of the facts in the case, Ms. Scott can safely be removed from home confinement so long as all the other terms of her bond remain in force.
Mullens & Mullens Chamber Members Of The Month In February
Mullens & Mullens, PLLC, was established in July of 2003 by Hunter Mullens and Kate Mullens (formerly McGuire) with offices in Grafton and Philippi, West Virginia. In 2005, the firm consolidated its offices and moved to its current location, 9 North Main Street, Philippi, and in 2013 Mullens & Mullens expanded and opened a Clarksburg office, located at 333 East Main Street, Clarksburg. The firm focuses on personal injury cases, small business representation, and issues involving real estate; however, Mullens & Mullens remains a “Main Street Law Firm” with the experience, knowledge, and resources to handle the simplest matters or the most complex litigation. The partners at Mullens & Mullens bring a broad range of experience and knowledge to their practice.
Hunter Mullens is an experienced trial lawyer. His practice is primarily focused on the representation of seriously injured people and their families, including work place and industrial injuries. He also has extensive experience and an active practice in coal mine and gas well regulation and litigation. He has successfully litigated jury verdicts as counsel for plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases seeking monetary compensation, and has also obtained successful jury verdicts for defendants, as a private attorney, and on behalf of the State of West Virginia as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, in criminal cases.
Hunter is a 1988 honors graduate of Pocahontas County High School, a 1994 cum laude graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, and he earned his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1997 where he was selected as a member of the honorary Moot Court Association. He has previously been appointed and served as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Barbour and Taylor Counties and as City Attorney for the cities of Philippi and Grafton. He was also previously elected by the practicing lawyers of Barbour, Taylor, Tucker, and Preston Counties to serve on the West Virginia Board of Governors (2006 to 2009). He is a veteran of the United States Army, and among other medals, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal during combat operations in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
Catherine (Kate) A. Mullens is an experienced trial lawyer and real estate attorney. Her practice is primarily focused on the representation of seriously injured people and their families, including automobile and trucking incidents and product liability. She also has an extensive real estate practice.
Kate graduated valedictorian of the 1990 class of Philip Barbour High School. She attended Alderson-Broaddus College as an Honors Program student, where she maintained a 4.0 grade point average prior to transferring and ultimately graduating from West Virginia University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in December 1993, graduating cum laude as an Honors Program Scholar. Kate earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from West Virginia University College of Law in 1998.
Kate is licensed to practice law in the State of West Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and various Federal Courts in West Virginia and Virginia. She is a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), West Virginia Association of Justice (WVAJ), the American Bar Association, West Virginia Bar Association, Virginia Bar Association, and a former representative for Barbour, Taylor, Tucker, and Preston counties on the Young Lawyers Executive Committee of the West Virginia State Bar where she assisted in revising the handbook on Attorney IOLTAs for use by attorneys throughout the State.
Jennifer Collier, Jennifer Whetzel, and Samantha Roy provide excellent paralegal and support services for Mullens & Mullens and have a combined wealth of experience. Mullens & Mullens can be contacted by calling 304-457-9000 or 304-623-9001.
Barbour County CEOS Winter Fair To Be Held This Weekend
The Barbour County CEOS is a nonprofit organization that really works hard for the betterment of our community. They donate their proceeds to many organizations throughout Barbour County and the surrounding area. They also do many volunteer hours in our area. There are five clubs located in Barbour County. Last year, the group celebrated its 90th birthday at the Barbour County Fairgrounds.
On Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, 2017, the Barbour County Community Educational Outreach Service will be putting on its winter fair at the Belington Volunteer Fire Department in Belington, WV. The fair will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
The delicious menu includes biscuits and gravy, vegetable soup, bean soup, cornbread, hotdogs, ham sandwiches, pork barbeque, coleslaw, potato salad, nachos, Edna’s famous pickled eggs, big dill pickles, coffee, hot tea, soft drinks, water and a variety of baked items. Kitchen is open at 8 a.m. for breakfast.
This year’s entertainment lineup is spectacular, featuring the best of the surrounding area. On Saturday, March 4, 2017, it includes at 11 a.m. – Valli Davis, 12 noon – John Daugherty, 1 p.m. – Soda Pop Gypsies, 2 p.m. – Rich Spotloe and the Good Ole Boys, 3 p.m. – Marissa Mallow, 4 p.m. – Joyful Noise, and 5 p.m. – Lee Barcus.
Cake Walks will start at 10 a.m. on March 4, 2017, and go throughout the day. John Lloyd and Gary Golden will be on site to weave some chair bottoms at 9 a.m. each day. There is a large variety of crafters and vendors that are attending; they have everything from primitive items to fishing lures available to purchase.
Also on Saturday, March 4, 2017, there will be Kid’s Day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be crafts, games, and activities for the children to participate in.
For more information, call the WVU Extension Service at 304-457-3254 or visit the fair’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/150149462138497/.
Hope to see you all at the Winter Fair!
Philippi Council Passes Fire Fee
by MARIJA ILIC
On Tuesday, February 21, Philippi City Council, after the second reading, unanimously passed the ordinance enacting and authorizing of a fire fee. The City of Philippi is authorized to collect the fee from the owners of residential and non-residential structures within the city limits.
City Council had options of charging a flat fee per unit or charging a certain amount per square foot, and the council decided on the flat fee charge. The fees were set as follows: $60 per year or $5 per month for single family individual unit, as well as non-residential units; $120 per year or $10 per month for dual family individual units; and $5 per month per unit for multiple family residential units.
The City’s Finance Director is in charge of determining whether the fee will be billed monthly, quarterly, or annually. According to the City Manager, Karen Weaver, the decision of the Finance Director regarding the method of billing will be presented to City Council within next couple of scheduled meetings. She also stated that the fire fee will be billed separately from the utility bills, and will be billed directly to the owners of the structures. Citizens can obtain a copy of the ordinance at Philippi City Hall.
During the Council meeting, Mayor Phil Bowers reminded the citizens of Philippi that their opinions on any matter presented before and by the Council are welcomed, and that participation in any public hearings and readings of future proposed ordinances is highly encouraged. Citizens may contact their Council members personally, or they may request to speak before the Council. However, he also asked that if people wish to be put on the agenda of the City Council meetings, regarding any matter, they do so in timely fashion. Council meetings are held every first and third Tuesday of the month. Each meeting’s agenda is posted at the entrance of the City Hall on Thursdays prior to the meeting.
Barbour County Man Charged With Wanton Endangerment, Fleeing On Foot
Robert Darnell Leash, 31, has been charged with wanton endangerment involving a firearm and fleeing on foot follow two incidents in February.
According to a criminal complaint filed at the Barbour County Magistrate Court, Deputy D. Carter responded to a report of shots fired at a residence on Wilson Street in Junior. When the officer arrived on scene, he made contact with Robert Leash, who ran into the woods away from the residence upon seeing the officer. After speaking with the victims, who stated that Leash fired a 12 gauge shotgun at their feet after the victims attempted to leave the residence.
Following the first incident, Deputy Z. Kisamore and CPL Casey arrived at a residence on Barbour County Highway in Belington to serve an arrest warrant to Leash for wanton endangerment. Because Leash had a history of fleeing, CPL Casey entered the residence to attempt to make contact with Leash, which Deputy Kisamore waited outside watching the front, back, and inside of the residence, according to the criminal complaint filed at the Barbour County Magistrate’s Office.
As Kisamore went to the back of the residence, he witnessed Leash walking in the backyard towards Route 250. The officer then yelled for Leash to stop, to which Leash responded, “No, I do not want to go to jail,” and then proceeded to run through the yard, across RT. 250, and into the woods. Deputy Kisamore followed on foot through the woods, across the train tracks, and to the edge of the Tygart River never losing visual sight of Leash, according to the report. Leash was standing approximately 10 feet into the water as Deputy Kisamore tried to negotiate Leash’s surrender. Leash would not budge, however, and because of the temperature of the water and the officer’s safety, Kisamore did not pursue into the river.
Lease attempted to evade capture by wading across the Tygart River, but was unsuccessful as TFC Hevener was waiting on the other side of the river. Leash then reentered the river and waded to the middle of the river, where he posted up on a rock, the report states. CPL Casey radioed for fire and emergency assistance. Water rescue arrived and retrieved Leash from the water. Deputy Kisamore and CPL Casey escorted Leash to an ambulance and he was transported to Davis Memorial Hospital via EMS. Deputy Kisamore accompanied Leash to the hospital and upon release transported Leash to Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
Belington Man Charged With Felony Fleeing While DUI
Mark Ryan, 55, of Belington has been charged with a felony count of fleeing while DUI following a February 23 incident.
According to the criminal complaint filed at the Barbour County Magistrate’s Office, PFC Dylan Johnson of the Belington Police Department was traveling behind a white Dodge pickup truck past the Belington Fire Department when the truck turned right onto South Beverly Pike and traveled completely into the other lane, crossing the solid yellow lines multiple times. Johnson then attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but the driver of the pickup truck continued south without stopping.
Officer Johnson turned on his lights and sirens, but the vehicle continued without stopping almost to the end of Beverly Pike to a garage behind some residences, where the vehicle stopped, according to the report. Johnson then made contact with the driver, Ryan, of the pickup. The criminal complaint notes that Ryan had slurred speech, was unsteady, and had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and person. Johnson administered three standard field sobriety tests, and Ryan failed all three.
Two additional officers then arrived on scene. Ryan was advised that he was under arrest, but began to become irate, stating to Officer Johnson that he wanted to shoot him between the eyes, according to the report filed. When the officer advised that would not happen, Ryan then aggressively stepped with his hand in his right pocket toward another officer on scene. In his pocket, Ryan had a small derringer pistol.
One of the officers on scene then grabbed a hold of Ryan’s left arm and began an arm-bar take down. Johnson grabbed Ryan’s right hand, removing it from Ryan’s pocket. Ryan aggressively resisted arrested as two other offers assisted in gaining control of Ryan as well as retrieving Ryan’s pistol from his pocket. The officers were able to safely gain control of Ryan. During the altercation, Ryan received a small laceration under his left eye, but was medically cleared at Broaddus Hospital.
Ryan was then transported to Barbour County Sheriff’s Department for a secondary chemical test to determine his blood alcohol content, which yielded a result of .217. Following the result, Ryan was transported to Broaddus Hospital for medical clearly, during which he was cleared and his blood and urine were tested. Ryan was then transported to Tygart Valley Regional Jail, but has since been released.