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Mayor attempts to "put to rest" status of MPD

The Morgantown City Council’s called meeting last night may have been short, but it had impact when Mayor Linda Keown addressed the status of the Morgantown Police Department.  Keown read a statement to the Council and audience with the stated intent to “put to rest” the issue of the MPD.  Keown said the option of contracting the city police work to the Sheriff’s Department needed studying and held up a folder several inches thick to represent the information collected so far.  Keown stressed the security of the community is the priority but also listed several financial problems the city faces and said sometimes local officials have to “think outside the box.”  Keown stated that action to contract city police work to the Sheriff’s Department would require action by the City Council, the Fiscal Court, and the Department of Local Government.  Saying it was “time to put the issue behind us,” Keown recommended keeping the MPD “for now” while looking at projected costs into the next four to five years.  The Council approved the Mayor’s recommendation unanimously.
 
Council member Terrell House told the Council that he did research on industrial jobs in Morgantown since his constituents often ask him about jobs.  House reported that over an 18 month period from March 2011 to September 2012, Morgantown industries have produced a net gain of 152 jobs.  Council member Edra Dean Hampton added that some jobs with local factories are vacant.  House also reported that the South Tyler sidewalk project is “rolling right along.”
 
Council member Gary Southerland said the Planning and Zoning Board needs assistance with code enforcement of what he termed blighted properties.  Southerland emphasized that enforcement needs to be done according to process, but getting properties in compliance with city codes is “something we all need to be open to.”
 
Council member Russell Givens said the Butler County Extension Service/Butler County Farm Bureau Field Day was attended by 145 people, an increase from last year; he added that the community building was “just right for this kind of event.”  Givens also reported that the soccer field lights have been completed and that quotes are being obtained for Ag Development Fund grants for the community building.
 
MPD Police Chief J. R. Wilkins told the Council that background checks on potential new hires have been done with an average of 30 pages per applicant.  Wilkins reported arrests were made regarding forgery incidents where cars were broken into and checks taken from the cars were forged.  Wilkins also said the MPD is offering extra patrols around residences when those who live there notify the MPD that they are going on vacation.
 
In other business, the Council approved the 2nd reading of Ordinance 2012-10 and Ordinance 2012-11, which amend the 2011-2012 budget and the 2012-2013 budget, respectively. Reminders were made of upcoming October events such as Harvest on the Square, the final Singing on the Courthouse Lawn of the year, and the annual chamber Awards Banquet.
 
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Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News/WLBQ 1570 AM.

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