WILLIAMSTOWN -City officials and council appointed a new chief for the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday.
James L. Dean Jr. was chosen by the nearly 30 members of the volunteer organization to fill the position left empty by former longtime fire Chief Joe Ruf last month.
"It's a real honor to be voted as chief by my peers," said Dean, who is known as J.L.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Ruth Ruf, left, the widow of former Williamstown Fire Chief Joe Ruf, who retired last month and unexpectedly died two weeks later, shakes the hand of Councilwoman Barbara Lewis as Councilman Ron Erb, Mayor Jean Ford and city attorney Blaine Myers look on during the council meeting Tuesday.
Ruf, 77, retired at the end of October before passing away suddenly on Nov. 11.
Dean was elected fire chief by the department's members as Ruf was retiring, according to the letter read by Mayor Jean Ford, which was dated Oct. 25.
Council unanimously approved Dean's appointment as chief.
Also, the city and council honored Ruf's memory on Tuesday by naming him The Pride of Williamstown, an award designed to give recognition to those who have put in work beyond the call of duty.
"When I got the letter from Joe saying he was retiring, myself and council asked ourselves what we could do to keep him in the memory of the community," Ford said.
She presented Ruf's widow, Ruth Ruf, with the proclamation of her husband's "exemplary and selfless work."
A photo of Ruf with a plaque stating who he is and why he was given the honor will hang in council chambers.
Ruf's photo and information will join that of Bernard Mullenix and Councilman Gene Duncan, who were the first two recipients of the award for their volunteerism within the community.
Ruth Ruf was overwhelmed and did not make a speech or comment to the crowd of more than 30 people, which was mainly Williamstown volunteer firefighters.
In other business:
* Council was informed by city attorney Blaine Myers that the city has reached a professional services agreement with KCI Technologies for the engineering of sidewalks.
In August, council approved KCI Technologies of Morgantown to engineer the city's sidewalk projects.
The city has $245,478 available with a match of about $50,000 for the sidewalks, which can be done with in-kind services, according to Councilwoman Barbara Lewis.
It is unknown where the next sidewalk project will be as meetings among city officials, members of the sidewalk committee and the engineering firm will need to be held. The city has a large number of areas in need of sidewalk rehabilitation or full construction, including Fifth Street, Park Avenue, Front Street and Henderson Avenue.
The city finished building sidewalks along Dodge Avenue to Williamstown High School last year as part of the Safe Routes to Schools.
Lewis said there will be a public meeting with KCI Technologies to lay out plans for what the city wants to do.
There is no date set for the meeting, but Ford said it will not be until the beginning of the new year.