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Wellsburg Council drops primary election

By WARREN SCOTT Staff writer

February 19, 2011
The Herald-Star

WELLSBURG - With just one election race ahead, Wellsburg City Council unanimously moved on Feb. 8 not to hold a primary election this year.

But voters in June also may be asked to vote on whether the city's police chief and collector-treasurer should be appointed.

The move to drop the primary election came at the recommendation of City Clerk Mary Blum, who said it would save the city about $5,000.

While six council seats are up this election year, only one is sought by more than one candidate: a seat representing the 2nd Ward pursued by Tammy Provenzano of 200 Sycamore St. and Paul T. Billiard of 1523 Main St.

Provenzano was one of five council members appointed to the panel following the resignation of five elected council members over a dispute involving the city's water and sewer rates.

The four other appointed council members also will appear on ballots - some because their terms were up this year and others because state law requires that any vacant elected office filled through appointment must go on ballots in the nearest election.

Because no race involved more than two candidates, Blum suggested eliminating the primary election, which had been slated for April 5.

But when the June 15 election is held, voters may be asked to consider whether they wish the elected positions of police chief and collector-treasurer to be appointed ones.

Mayor Sue Simonetti broke a split vote on whether to draw up an ordinance calling for the issue, which would require an amendment to the city's charter, to be placed on ballots.

Supporting the move were 2nd Ward Council members Ron Michaux and Provenzano, 3rd Ward Councilman Bill Smith and 4th Ward Councilman Jeff Tarr.

Opposing it were 1st Ward Councilmen Bruce Hunter and Mike Mitchell, 3rd Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher and 4th Ward Councilwoman Della Serevicz.

Simonetti said she voted in favor of the ordinance reluctantly but did so because it will allow the recurring issue to be resolved finally.

"Let the public decide what they want," she said.

Smith said he has nothing against current police chief Stanley Kins but felt council needed to establish qualifications for the position.

"This charter was drawn up in 1953, I think, and it's time to catch up. Things have changed," he said.

Simonetti suggested if the police chief position is to be appointed, the same should be done for the collector-treasurer as a key handler of city funds.

Francine Kraus is the current collector-treasurer.

Mitchell said there are a number of changes that should be made to the city's charter but he didn't believe this is the time for them.

Kins said neither the city's police chief nor Brooke County sheriff are required to have experience in law enforcement.

"My job here is as an administrator. You made me into a police officer because there's not enough manpower," he told council.

In other business, council:

Approved an ordinance prohibiting individuals from carrying firearms at city buildings and on city grounds, such as local parks. It was supported by all but Mitchell and Hunter.

Mitchell said he believes the ordinance violates Americans' constitutional right to bear arms and is difficult to enforce because police normally won't know if someone is concealing a firearm.

Approved the final reading of an ordinance authorizing the issue of up to $350,000 in bonds for improvements to the city's water and wastewater treatment systems. A public hearing was held before the reading but no comments were received.

Recognized the Brooke High School girls soccer and football teams for their outstanding seasons.

The girls soccer team were the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class AAAA season champions and OVAC tournament runners-up.

Team member Ashley Wilcox was named OVAC Division 1 girls Player of the Week and she and teammates Maci Hascak, Kara Mezan and Jessica Kennedy were named to the OVAC First Team. Teammates Megan Smith and Megan Johnston received honorable mentions, and the team's coach, Lee Weppler, was named Coach of the Year.

Under the direction of Head Coach Tom Bruney, the football team was runner-up in the state championship and OVAC Class AAA champions. Several players also received individual honors from the OVAC.

(Scott can be contacted at

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