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Parkersburg mayor’s raise approved; council creates outreach position

Council creates outreach position, honors first responders

Photo by Evan Bevins From left, Parkersburg resident Joey Knotts, WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center Director of Emergency Services Susan Abdella and Camden Clark Ambulance Service paramedic Shawn Marshall pose for a photo Tuesday in Parkersburg City Council chambers after it was announced Marshall and five other first responders would have their names placed on the Seats of Honor at Southwood Park. Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl said Marshall saved Knotts’ life during an emergency in 2019.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council approved the final readings of a raise for the mayor and the creation of a civilian homeless outreach coordinator in the Parkersburg Police Department during its meeting Tuesday.

Six area first responders were also recognized with plaques to be placed on a monument in Southwood Park.

The ordinance to raise the annual pay for the mayor from $80,000 to $90,000 passed 6-2, with Councilmen J.R. Carpenter and Jeff Fox opposed.

A motion by Fox to cut the increase from $10,000 a year to $3,600 — a figure he chose to reflect the raises received by rank-and-file employees over the last four years — was rejected by the same count, with only Carpenter and Fox in favor.

Before making the motion, Fox recalled arguments for the raise at the Nov. 10 meeting, with some members saying a higher salary was needed to attract more qualified candidates.

Photo by Evan Bevins Parkersburg resident Betty Camp speaks against a proposed raise for the city's mayor during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

“While the city certainly has a lot of business to do, we are not a business,” Fox said. “Public service is about wanting to help, not so much about the salary.”

Fox said he thinks Mayor Tom Joyce, recently elected to a second term, is more motivated by service than salary.

During the meeting’s public forum, Parkersburg resident Betty Camp described the ordinance as “unseemly,” noting many citizens may be struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carpenter pointed to Joyce previously saying the raise was not his idea.

“You do have the power to veto this, should you so choose,” Carpenter said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Parkersburg Police Sgt. Beniah Depue, left, hugs Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl after it was announced his name would be placed on the Seats of Honor at Southwood Park during Tuesday's council meeting.

Joyce declined to comment on Carpenter’s remark after the meeting.

The homeless coordinator job would follow up with homeless individuals to connect them with assistance and work with those cases as they move through the courts. The final reading passed 8-0, with Councilman Eric Barber absent. Councilmen John Reed and Zach Stanley participated in the meeting by phone.

Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl announced the names that would be added to the Seats of Honor, benches placed in Southwood Park last year to honor first responders.

She’d planned to recognize the recipients at the Southwood tree lighting Saturday, but that event was canceled due to rising COVID numbers in Wood County.

The honorees are:

Photo by Evan Bevins Bosley and Kuhl

• Parkersburg Police Sgt. Beniah Depue, a 10-year officer described as going above and beyond the call of duty and serving on the 911 Center advisory board, the police pension board and as president of the Fraternal Order of Police Blennerhassett Lodge 79.

• Parkersburg Police Patrolman Michael Bosley, who carries stuffed animals in his cruiser for children dealing with frightening situations and is known for befriending children in his neighborhood.

• Parkersburg Fire Lt. Jody Casto, who Fire Chief Jason Matthews praised for his work maintaining the department’s new ladder truck and his work as a fire investigator.

• Parkersburg Fire Lt. Mike Bartenschlag, who Matthews said works hard to train new recruits and veteran firefighters alike.

• Camden Clark Ambulance Service paramedic Shawn Marshall, who WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center Director of Emergency Services Susan Abdella said has trained numerous area paramedics and nurses, saved numerous lives and “puts our community first.”

Photo by Evan Bevins Kuhl and Casto

• Wood County 911 Center coordinator William Riffle, who has worked at the center since its inception in 1999 as a dispatcher and supervisor and now handles public relations assignments and emergency management events involving the deployment of the Mobile Command Vehicle, including the 2017 IEI Plastics fire.

The plaques will be installed by Saturday when the Southwood Christmas lights will be turned on at 5 p.m.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

Photo by Evan Bevins Kuhl and Bartenschlag

Photo by Evan Bevins Kuhl and Riffle

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