J.D. CharlesFor The Logan Banner
February 15, 2013
Several local principals approached the Logan City Council about having a police officer placed in the schools at the Feb. 12 2013 meeting of the council.
Councilman Jay Mullins asked about getting a grant to pay for an officer located on the Midelburg Island school complex to act as a school resource officer. Logan Police Chief E.K. Harper said that he was not opposed to the idea, but noted that the grant which paid for former Police Chief David Adkins in that role was a one-year proposition. Adkins was later paid by the city and reimbursed by the BOE. In his third year as resource officer, Adkins then left the Logan Police Department for several months in a career change.
Councilman Mike Allie noted that given recent local and national incidents regarding school safety he would also like to see an officer posted in the schools. Mullins said at one time there was some discussion of the concept of the county and board of education assisting with helping pay part of the costs for an officer at the school complex.
Chief Harper said that given the manpower constraints his department currently faces (with seven officers on duty) that placing an existing officer in the school system would be a drastic loss of manpower for patrol and emergency calls.
“If you send a certified officer to the school, it takes a certified officer off the road,” Harper said, noting that his department has been swamped for months with shoplifting calls from Walmart. Harper said one possible solution he had seen was being tried in Kanawha County where off-duty sheriff’s department officers work security details in the schools on days off. Harper noted that historically small municipal departments have had a problem in keeping and retaining officers.
“The last guy we hired worked one year after getting out of the academy then he moved to a different agency,” he explained.
Mayor Serafino Nolletti said a meeting could be scheduled between the board of education officials and the city. Councilman Basil Ken Lee asked Harper to see if his men would be interested in working at the school. Harper noted he was not in opposition to the idea.
“I was the one who wrote the original grant for a school resource officer,” he said.
In the interim, city councilman Keno Muncy asked about having an increased presence at the school complex by having officers patrol the area more.
“We appreciate any help we can get with the kids,” said Logan High School Principal Bob Lucas, who noted there are 2,000 children on the island every day.
Another educator said that some students had become problematic because they had become increasingly violent and hostile — as had their parents.
“There are times we fear for our safety,” she said, noting there had been two very recent incidents that caused concerns.
Muncy said he felt that there might be more grant money available soon for school safety given recent local and national incidents.
“We will figure this out,” Nolletti said.
City Accountant Jeff Valet said there were a few extra deficits in the January expenses due to quarterly bills for Board of Risk Management Insurance ($12,000) and Brickstreet Workers’ Compensation Insurance ($6,000), bringing the city’s monthly financial statement up to $96,000. Usually the city’s bills are around $80,000 per month.
Valet said there will be a special budget meeting coming up in March and that the city needed to set up a new account for the Stollings Sewer Extension Project.
A second reading was held for a bond council for the Stollings project. The bonds will pay for the project.
Lee said he had a question for the council, considering the nature of the work the city was doing to extend sewage treatment to the Stollings area.
“I want to know what your opinion is about annexation?” he said.
Nolletti said that the topic had come up in the past and that there were three different ways to go about an annexation.
“The easiest way is to get everybody who is affected to agree to come into the city,” the Mayor said.
Muncy noted that more recently the college at Mount Gay had asked the city to annex into that area to provide fire department and police protection to a new structure built there.
Code Enforcement Officer Ray Perry updated the council on flood repair projects and demolition projects in the city. Perry said the city had met with FEMA and was scheduled to receive $867,000 within the next 30 days to do repairs to landslides in the city and tear down some dilapidated structures. Perry said the project was on track and that 52 structures were identified and 48 of those “will come down, one way or the other.”
Lee said he was happy to see those projects moving forward.
Street Department Commissioner Kevin Marcum said 100 tons of salt had been put down by town employees over the course of recent winter weather and 50 more tons were ordered. Marcum said a slide on Upper High Street will be repaired by the Department of Environmental Protection using Mine Reclamation funds because the damage was caused by old mining operations water saturation. Nolletti said the Charles Street repair project could wind up costing twice what had been estimated due to a lack of bedrock in the area and that the project would be rebid.
Harper said the new street lights had finally been installed in town and were working. Harper noted that answering constant calls to Walmart were wearing his officers out.
“About 90 percent of what they do up there winds up being prosecuted in City (Municipal) Court,” Harper said. “The City Judge is fed up too and he has doubled up on fines.”
Harper said some of the cases have involved up to $1,500 in merchandise at a time as thieves have become bold. He noted that for felony shoplifting arrests the cases have been taken to Logan Magistrate Court without much luck due to arrestees often getting out of jail only to turn around and get arrested again for the same offenses.
“Not only are we dealing with an epidemic of shoplifters, when you arrest them you usually find they have a pocket full of pills. We caught one girl five times in six days. They let her out of jail four times and she kept running right back up there,” Harper said.