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South Charleston moving on home rule

By Marta Ree Tankersley

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston's application for home rule is nearing completion, the city's attorney told council members Thursday night.

Home rule legislation allows municipalities to make decisions on things that are usually reserved for the state alone.

Attorney Michael Moore said South Charleston's application to take part in the pilot program should be submitted well before the June 1 deadline.

"Home Rule is a program that allows cities to think outside the box and come up with innovative ordinances to deal with subjects in a more cost-effective way," Moore said.

State lawmakers increased the pilot program to allow 20 cities to participate.  Charleston, Wheeling, Bridgeport and Huntington have home rule.

South Charleston has been working with police and department heads for some time to develop a plan and meet the deadlines of the application process, Moore said.

Many cities are expected to apply, he said.

Mayor Frank Mullens said having home rule extended to South Charleston would make the city more business friendly.  

"Hopefully we will be more efficient and effective in what we are doing. There'll be streamlining of the way, for example, on-site citations can be issued to deal with property maintenance issues."

In other business, Police Chief Brad Rinehart told council members he plans to hire two officers this spring.

The new officers will replace officers who left the department to join the State Police.

Rinehart also reported that about 20 purse-snatching cases have been solved because of a recent arrest at the Southridge Wal-Mart.

"Many of the stolen purses were recovered," he said.

Also at the meeting, Public Works Department Director Gerald Burgy said the city's spring cleanup is scheduled for April 26 on the west end of town and May 3 on the east end.

In another matter, Ken Hayes was appointed to the Board of Zoning and Appeals Commission. Betty Faulkes and Jeanie Smith were appointed to the Municipal Planning Commission.

The mayor acknowledged the retirement of Bob Gray, Thomas Memorial Hospital's senior vice president of business development.

"He was instrumental in bringing a lot of jobs to South Charleston," Mullens said. "Not just in physician recruitment, but in assistants and office staff, too. Good jobs, with benefits."  


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