Newell plans to reenact two commissions

PARKERSBURG – Two defunct commissions in the city of Parkersburg will be resurrected this fall.

Mayor Bob Newel said Wednesday he will re-activate two commissions, one on crime and delinquency, the other on parks, which were established more than 30 years ago through city ordinance but have not been in use in recent years.

The Advisory Commission on City Parks, which was created in 1970, is being brought back largely due to a recent addition: Johnson T. Janes Park. The new park roughly doubles the acreage of parks and facilities under the city’s watch, and is being eyed for use by multiple groups.

“There are so many groups interested in doing something with that area, we really need a group to oversee those efforts and needs,” he said “There are a lot of different interests and uses and it needs to have some planning.”

Newell said Councilwoman Kim Coram had put forth the idea of creating a Friends of Johnson T. Janes group to help oversee that planning, but said the city has opted to use the advisory commission which was already put in place in town ordinance.

The Advisory Commission on Crime and Delinquency was established in 1979 and modified in 1980, but was never actually put into place.

The commission will have one person from each of the nine council districts as a member, a representative from each of the three Parkersburg high schools, a representative from West Virginia University at Parkersburg and a representative appointed by the Parkersburg Chief of Police.

“My intent is to have them meet in a different district each month,” Newell said. “Our hope is to have the public help us define problems in different parts of the city. I really want to generate more involvement from the community in identifying problem areas and in some cases, like with graffiti, helping to clean up those areas.”

Newell said issues such as drugs and graffiti are social issues which dramatically affect neighborhoods, and by giving people a voice and a meeting place he hopes community members will have more tools at their disposal to address those issues.

Newell said re-enacting the advisory commission also will capitalize on recent interest generated by the Citizen’s Police Academy and expansion of police sub stations throughout the city.

Meetings for both commissions are expected to begin this fall, most likely in September, coinciding with the start of the mayor’s annual town hall meeting series.

Newell said those interested in participating with one of the commissions should contact his office at 1-304-424-8420. Newell said the only restriction is any member must live within the city limits. Appointments must be made through the mayor’s office and approved by City Council.