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Resident discusses police complaint with City Council

September 6, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

A Philippi man who believes he was wrongly accused of a crime aired his grievance against the officer during a Philippi City Council meeting this week.

Lee Gibbs told The Inter-Mountain he believes he was wrongly accused of driving under the influence by Philippi police officer Clifford Keller in 2007. Gibbs said the charges against him were later dismissed by Barbour County Circuit Judge Alan Moats, and the record was then expunged.

The circuit clerk office had no records regarding the case.

Gibbs was called into an executive session during Tuesday's meeting with the City Council, Mayor Jerry Mouser and City Manager Karen Weaver for the purpose of discussing his complaint against the officer.

The executive session involving the parties lasted about 30 minutes, and no action or discussion was held following the closed-door meeting.

Weaver confirmed Keller had been placed on administrative leave, but both she and Mouser said they could not discuss the matter because it is a personnel issue.

"It has been given to the city attorney. We have to review the whole matter," Mouser said in August, declining to discuss the matter further.

After the council meeting, Mouser reaffirmed that he still could not discuss the issue and said he must follow certain procedures outlined by a West Virginia law in terms of personnel matters. Weaver also said she could not discuss it.

In other business from this week's meeting, Charlie Byrer, a resident of South Walnut Street in Philippi, reported a stream of water runs along the street as deep as 3 inches where he steps out of his car. He said he believes it may be a broken old water pipe.

"I'd like to see some action - what is worse than a broken water main right now?" he said.

He also mentioned a possible water leak on Columbia Street.

Weaver said she knew of that leak, and the cause was a broken valve. She said parts had been ordered and she would check on their status.

The Rev. David Brown, a resident of Elk Street, addressed a concern with parking. He said he had been parking on a cement slab, but said he was told by Police Chief Mitch Payne that he had to move the vehicle or it would be towed.

After he stopped parking on the concrete slab, Brown said a truck started parking there.

Weaver said she'd look into the issue. She said the concrete slab is owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Parking there requires permission from council, which would have to request permission from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Brown said he wrote three letters requesting permission to park there.

"I'm not hurting nobody there. I ain't in nobody's way," he said, adding he would appreciate an answer soon. The location allowed easy travel for numerous purposes that could be requested of him at any time of day or night, since he is a minister.

Weaver also talked about a new heating and air conditioning system for City Hall. She called the old system a "dinosaur" and said the outdated unit may have originated with the construction of the building.

The project is funded by an energy efficiency and conservation grant for $141,000.

"We're looking forward to comparing gas bills this winter to past years," she said, adding that the project is almost finished.

Weaver also reported that she and 14 others went to Morgantown to tour a housing development and to speak with the contractors who were building it.

She said the trip was to "get some ideas and hopefully entice someone" to build affordable housing in Philippi and "see what can be done" in an area with very little housing.

"I think it was a worthwhile trip," she said.

Contact Melissa Toothman by email at mtoothman@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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