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City Council fills vacant seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A vacant seat on Charleston's City Council was filled Monday night. Republican Adam Knauff now represents Ward 7 -- a seat previously occupied by Mike Stajduhar, who resigned last month because of family issues and a move to Indiana.

Knauff, a 35-year-old lifelong resident of the city's West Side, served on council from 2007 to 2011, but said he chose not to run for re-election so he could focus on his family.

"I think we're fortunate to have Adam back since Mike can't be here," said Mayor Danny Jones. "I think it's a perfect fit."

An issue that tops Knauff's list of priorities is the 5-ton vehicular weight limit on Garrison Avenue. Last month, Kanawha County schools officials said they would stop running school buses on parts of the street.

Jones gave the school system permission to run buses despite the weight until the last day of the semester, but now affected students will have to use a different bus stop.

Knauff called the school system's announcement "opportune" -- it came just three days after Stajduhar's resignation was effective -- and wants solutions offered.

"We've really got to clean that up, and I'm hoping that the Board of Education can work with the city so these kids don't have to walk a couple miles down the road without sidewalks in the dark," Knauff said after Monday night's council meeting.

Knauff said he is concerned with Charleston's ward redistricting -- an issue the Redistricting Committee tabled until after the 2014 legislative session.

He said council members are "being presented a false choice."

Due to a decline in population, Charleston will have to redraw its districts by the 2015 city elections. Two solutions have been presented to Redistricting Committee members.

A 21-ward solution includes a district that would straddle the Kanawha River, combining North Charleston and the Fort Hill Area, but that idea didn't sit well with most members.

A 20-ward solution was requested, but committee members and the city are unsure whether the state code allows for a decrease in wards. It clearly states in the code municipalities may increase wards.

"I don't see why we couldn't make a Plan C," Knauff said. "If there's other people on council like me who don't like the options, now is the time to come up with another map."

Knauff will serve on the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Planning Committee and the Urban Renewal Committee.

In other business, City Council members:

* Approved a Community Participation Program grant of $14,000 for The Children's Theatre of Charleston. The funds will provide the organization with new lighting equipment for its shows.

* Accepted a deed from the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority for property on Dickinson Street between Christopher and Lewis Streets for curb and sidewalk maintenance.

* Authorized a settlement in a lawsuit by Cynthia Marie Ellis, in which a city vehicle in July 2010 didn't stop and hit the back of a car, causing it to collide with another. The case settled for $25,000.

* Approved a revised grant application to the state Division of Energy for a Local Energy Efficiency grant. The application increases an original request of $10,000 to $25,000 in order to continue an energy-efficiency project on Charleston's East End.

* Appointed Sandra Smith to the Municipal Beautification Committee.

Smith replaces Barbara McCabe. Her term will expire in September 2016.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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