CHAPMANVILLE — On Tuesday, Oct. 8, former Chapmanville Water Department chairman Dean “Doc” Williams approached the town council and Mayor Raamie Barker on the topic of his sudden termination in late August.
Williams was removed from the water department Aug. 30. He was notified of his dismissal via a letter written and signed by Barker, whom Williams had run against in the June mayoral race along with a field of four other candidates.
The letter, which Williams says was hand-delivered to him by a Chapmanville police officer, did not mention a specific reason for his dismissal. During the council’s Sept. 10 session, the issue caused a debate between Barker, town councilman Ben DesRocher and town attorney Rob Kuenzel on whether “just cause” is required for dismissal of a town employee.
Ultimately, it was decided an amended letter would be sent to Williams, and the council voted down Barker’s nomination of former councilman Gary Neil to the position until further research. The position remains unfilled.
At their Oct. 8 session, Williams said he still has not received such a letter.
“The day I received this letter, I came to city hall to speak with you, Mr. Mayor, and you wasn’t there, and I was told to call you at home,” Williams said. “I really didn’t want to disturb you at home over this.”
“So you want to disturb me in public?” Barker quipped.
Williams then said he had recently met with Barker in private — which Barker confirmed — and still had not received a legitimate reason for his firing.
“I’m still waiting and wondering here whether I’m going to get a letter that will outline what just cause, or what I did that was so bad that had me removed from the water department,” Williams said. “As the chairman, you had all the right to take the chairmanship, no problem, but I just don’t see why I was removed from the water board, and that’s what I’m still waiting on — an actual reason why.”
Neither he nor Barker specified anything that was said in their private meeting other than a discussion about “trust and respect,” which Williams used to make a slight jab.
“I had a lot of great respect for almost everybody here, and trust in, until this happened,” Williams said. “As my dad used to tell me, trust and respect is earned, and I thought I had earned everybody’s respect and trust here, but evidently I haven’t, because I got terminated without no reasoning why, and to this day, I would still like to know why, and I would like to know what the council and mayor is going to do about it. That’s all I have to say.”
“Thank you,” Barker responded without adding anything further.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.