By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Approval of the City of Parsons Council minutes was not an easy feat for the Council during the latest meeting. Councilwoman Kathy DiBacco started the debate by saying that she felt the wording under the “Public Comments” section was offensive and inaccurate. The section read, “Rebecca Myers voiced concerns and disrespectful treatment of a current employee, and presented awarded accolades achieved over 22 years from that employee that is working for the city.” DiBacco said, “I do not like what was written. I am not sure if it should even say voiced concerns and disrespectful treatment of a current employee. I think it just maybe say Rebecca Myers. If you want to say that I think it gives too much information or just kind of negative information. I would prefer it say Rebecca Myers spoke to the Council.”
Acting Recorder Councilman Tim Auvil said, “I tried to make it as simple as possible.” DiBacco said, “Rebecca Myers spoke to the Council, that would be more simple and less offensive.” The discussion led to whether there should be detail under public comment and it was stated that it had been before to explain why the guest was there. Councilman Tim Turner said, “This is the way it works. If Kathy has an objection to something, when we vote, we vote with her recommended change and if that does not pass then it does not change and if it does it is changed.”
Acting Mayor Bruce Kolsun said, “It seems like we pick and choose who we want to say a lot about and who we do not want to say a lot about.” DiBacco said, “No, I think this is giving to much credence to what Rebecca Myers said. I think Rebecca Myers voiced concerns and you want to do that and end with employee and do not have presented accolades that is totally irrelevant.”
Turner added by saying, “I do not think disrespectful treatment is appropriate because then you are saying that it did happen. Can you prove that happened? I mean this whole thing is going to head for a bad situation here shortly.” Councilwoman Melissa Jones said, “My concern is that if we put that in there disrespectful treatment of employees and presented all those awards whenever she spoke you as Acting Mayor should have said something to her just make sure it did not come off as disrespectful treatment. We all understand what is going on around here.”
Kolsun said, “It is not my place to stop a comment person.” Turner remind Kolsun that it was his place as Acting Mayor to do so when specific Council members were mentioned to which Kolsun denied there be any mention of specific council members and Jones stated that yes there was. After more heated discussion it was voted to delete all wording and let the section be read as Rebecca Myers spoke.
Councilman James “Sam” Humphrey asked, “That night she was in here and I wanted to speak you stopped me. Why?” Kolsun answered “Because the thing is, Council is not to interact with guests. Is that so a negative thing that you are going to get into a confrontation with her to no end. I stopped you because we are not supposed to interact with guests.” Humphrey said, “I appreciate you stopping me because I had a lot to say. I really did.” Auvil said, “We can comment if they ask questions you know if we have a guests that wants to know the answer to something.”
Turner stated that it becomes a liable issue when the guests attack specific people and said, “It is slander. Some of the things said cannot be proved in a court of law and they may be called upon to do that. So, I think we need to tread carefully.”
Parsons Chief of Police, Kevin Keplinger, stated during his report that there have been several identity theft cases in the past few weeks. Keplinger would like to make everyone aware of spam callers and advised the public not to give personal information out over the phone. He would also like to remind the public to be aware of the rules and regulations for riding ATVs and UTVs on public roads.
City Administrator, Agnes “Aggie” Arnold, reported that spring banners have been hung up through Parsons. Gravel has been placed on the water plant road and the lean-to at the maintenance shop has been started. Arnold reported that during the last severe windy day the metal on the roof of the stage at Mill Race Park blew off and it has been reported to the insurance company to get replaced. Arnold reminded Council members that applications for the Harman Fund was due by March 16 at 1 p.m.
Auvil reported that there will be another picnic area with grill and trash bin added to the Pulp Mill Bottom Pond area.
Arnold presented a letter from US Cellular that stated that upon further analysis the cite behind the water department that was requested for a cell tower would not meet their needs and withdrew their proposition.
Council also voted to remove two agenda items for the request from GS Millwork until the requested schematics were brought to the Council.
The Council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters pertaining to the hiring of a part-time, as needed office assistant and full-time City Treasurer. Upon returning from the executive session DiBacco rescinded her previous motion to hire Melissa Bibb for the part-time as needed office assistant and motioned that Rachal Wilfong instead be hired for the position pending background check. A motion was also made that the name of the recommended person for the Treasurer’s position be withheld until drug/alcohol testing and background checks were completed. The Personnel Committee will divulge the person’s information during the March 21 meeting provided all steps were completed.
Council accepted the resignations of James A. Thompson as sanitation equipment operator and Garrett Crossland-Bolyard as Municipal Judge. The Municipal Judge position will be posted until the position is filled. The sanitation equipment operator position will need further discussion with the sanitation department supervisor before or if posted.
During the Good of the Order Turner asked for the City’s policy on sick leave and vacation be sent to all Council members especially since a recent employee has used 15 months of sick leave. Turner also requested a copy of the contract from the state auditor. Humphrey also asked how the City’s Charter could be changed to which the consensus from other council members was that it was a very long and hard process.
The next City of Parsons Council meeting will be held on March 21, 2023, at 6 p.m. and located at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building, 341 Second Street, Parsons, West Virginia.