citys water billing
by James Fisher
Anmoore town officials have denied allegations the
towns water board billing and collection procedures are badly mismanaged,
according to a letter from the town to the state Public Service Commission.
The letter also says the billing program needs to
be updated because monthly billing reports can be misleading. Anmoore officials
are studying the billing systems of two local water utilities to decide
if changes should be made, the letter said.
The towns letter responds to a letter and analysis of the towns water
collection system filed Feb. 17 with the PSC by the Anmoore Good Government
The group said Anmoore doesnt shut off service of past-due
accounts and has written off certain unpaid accounts as bad debts, then
restored service. The group also alleged the town failed to put delinquent
customers on payment plans and that a high percentage of Anmoores current
accounts are significantly past due.
According to February billing records obtained by
the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram, 177 of 543 water and sewer customers
were at least 30 days delinquent.
However, the towns letter says those figures may not be up-to-date.
For instance, the town might print a report Tuesday
showing a customer is overdue. Even if the customer pays the next day,
the report will show an overdue account until the next month.
The Anmoore Good Government Association relied on
those monthly reports for its analysis, the letter says.
The letter also says the town auditor advised town council to write
off certain overdue accounts as bad debt.
Between March 12 and March 18, the town filed lawsuits
in Harrison County Magistrate Court against 22 current and former Anmoore
residents with overdue water bills. Those delinquent bills range from $31.76
to $296.72. According to the towns letter, some of those customers have
paid on these accounts or have signed payment contracts.
At a meeting Feb. 11, town council decided anyone
with a delinquent account must sign a payment plan contract. Also, anyone
behind on a contract must pay or service would be shut off, Mayor B.L.
Pete Grogg said. Letters setting a 30-day deadline to make payment were
sent Feb. 12 to delinquent accounts.
Monday, town employees tagged 27 residences with
24-hour shut-off notices. Everyone whose door was tagged was either 30
or 60 days late on water bills, Grogg said. None of the residents were
on payment plans.
By noon Tuesday, 24 had paid their bills in full,
Grogg said. Water service to the other three homes was shut off. Since
then, one resident has paid in full, plus a $25 reconnection fee.
Clarksburg Council seeks police grants
by Paul Leakan
Clarksburg City Council passed two resolutions Thursday
that will allow the city to apply for two grants totaling more than $20,000.
One of the grants, worth $10,000, would help city police officers curb
Area police departments would join together to form
a multi-agency task force designed to educate and track down drunken drivers.
Patrol officers would work on their days off to
cover peak drunken driving hours. The officers, who would get paid at an
overtime rate, are seeking to concentrate on stopping drunken driving on
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
While strides have been made over the years to confront
drunken driving, city police officers say the problem is far from being
Driving under the influence cases have neither gone
up nor down in frequency in Clarksburg, said Robert Matheny, Clarksburg
police investigator. But the city police still arrest an average of four
people a week for DUI, he said.
About 50 percent of all fatal collisions that occur nationwide involve
motorists who drive while impaired, Matheny said.
The grant would not be used to fund any sobriety
checkpoints, said Clarksburg Police Chief Raymond Mazza.
But Matheny believes city police officers will be ready to tackle the
problem despite having to work on their days off.
Our guys have got to work overtime for it, he said. But we dont
mind working hard for what we get.
Aside from the drunken driving grant, the city will apply for a $10,750
grant to help establish a local juvenile crime enforcement coalition.
The coalition would be made up of community representatives
who would coordinate programs and activities to educate students in Harrison
County about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.
If the money is granted, the coalition could form
and meet sometime in September to elect officers and set an agenda.
The city will apply to the state Division of Criminal Justice Service
in Charleston for both grants. Matheny hopes the city police department
can secure both of them. This is real important because for a long time
we werent getting any grants, he said.
In other business Thursday, council passed a resolution
that endorses and recommends residents vote to renew the 3-year excess
levy. The city is projected to receive more than $2.1 million from the
levy. Residents will vote on the levy in the June 1 municipal election.
Philippis police chief glad to be back in uniform
by Torie Knight
Tom Hartley is back home doing what he just cant stop doing.
Hartley, 52, began his duties as the new Philippi
police chief Thursday following the retirement of former Chief Gerald Bucky
For more than 25 years, Hartley worked in law enforcement.
He retired from the Fairmont Police Department in 1993 and went to Florida
to really retire.
That lasted about eight months. Soon, the golf and
the odd jobs around the house became too commonplace and Hartley longed
to be back in uniform. Being a police officer thats about all I can
remember, Hartley said.
He re-entered the workforce by driving an armored
truck. For a while he was in the security division at Walt Disney World.
In 1995, he joined the Orange County Sheriffs Office.
Still, he missed his home state and the small town
atmosphere. He came back to Philippi this month. Its great to be home,
Hartley said after his first day patrolling the streets of Philippi. I
like the friendly atmosphere and the people. People take time to know everybody
and take time to care. Hartley will work with six officers in Philippi.
Philippi City Manager Joe Mattaliano said Hartley
brings added skills to the department with his experience in supervision,
planning and development, scheduling, purchasing and payroll. The Philippi
City Council chose Hartley after interviewing five applicants.
We were impressed not only with his professional
qualifications, but also with his outgoing personality and communication
skills, Mattaliano said. He is a people person who will be an asset to
the department and to the community.
alleged to owe
by Troy Graham
The state Bureau of Employment Programs has sued
a Harrison County restaurant for allegedly defaulting on accounts with
the state Workers Compensation and Unemployment Compensation divisions.
The Pizza Man, in Bridgeport, allegedly owes Workers
Compensation $24,820.36 in back taxes, interest and penalties, and $20,432.49
to Unemployment Compensation, according to the bureau.
The suit, filed in Kanawha County, also asks a judge
to order the restaurant to stop doing business. However, most companies
agree to a payment plan before an injunction is ordered, said John Howell,
an attorney with the Bureau of Employment Programs. Theres a whole spectrum
of things a company can do, he said. A lot of them make plans to pay.
Joseph Rudy and Dan Avolio, listed by the bureau as the owners of The
Pizza Man, were not at the restaurant Thursday afternoon.
The bureau also announced that it is suing a Kanawha
County lawyer and a Cabell County business for back payments.
Howell anticipates that many delinquent companies will take advantage
of a 6-month amnesty period that will go into effect July 1. At that point,
interest and penalties, which often make up a large amount of the sums
owed by delinquent companies, will be waived if the companies agree to
pay overdue premiums, Howell said.
Many companies have legitimate reasons for having
past due workers comp and unemployment premiums, he said.
Some businesses are just scraping by and its not their fault, Howell
T he Legislature gave the bureau the power to sue
for collection of back workers comp and unemployment payments in 1995,
the same time legislation was devised to help erase a huge deficit in the
workers comp fund.
Nearly $180 million in lawsuits are pending against West Virginia coal
companies, the largest delinquent industry in the state.
State approves consolidation
of Harrison Co. water districts
by Troy Graham
A year long, contentious battle to consolidate three
water districts in the southern part of Harrison County, which was heavily
resisted by residents there, ended when the state Public Service Commission
approved the merger.
The consolidation of the Lost Creek-Mount Clare,
Quiet Dell and Valley of Good Hope public service districts, which was
approved March 26, will go into effect April 15. The districts will become
part of the Greater Harrison Public Service District, which was already
managing two of the districts. The consolidated district will have more
than 3,000 customers.
The conclusion of the difficult merger process and the possibilities
it opens up have left Greater Harrison Manager Richard Hudkins as excited
as a kid at Christmas time.
Those districts were so close to each other, but
it was like the Berlin Wall. No one wanted to go out and help each other,
he said. Now that wall will come down.
One of the first items on Hudkins agenda will be
to seek an engineer to link the three water systems.
Theyre just a few thousand feet apart, he said.
Linking the districts will create two- way streets,
giving Greater Harrison more than one way to pump water in and out of the
districts, Hudkins said.
Quiet Dells water, which is purchased from the
Clarksburg Water Board, must now flow through the Nutter Fort system for
a fee. With a linked system, Quiet Dell can get its water through Lost
Creek, eliminating that fee, Hudkins said.
The district will also address low water pressure areas and building
more water tanks to increase storage, he said.
The merger was highly contested by residents in
the southern part of the county when it was proposed last year. Some feared
that Greater Harrison did not have the resources to handle all three.
The PSC received an report from a Tetrick &
Bartlett accountant who found that Greater Harrison did have the manpower
and equipment necessary. Greater Harrison had run Lost Creek since August
and it had been managing Valley of Good Hope for years, the report said.
Since Greater Harrison took over Lost Creek last
August, it has made three water line extension, Hudkins said.
There are requests now that this thing has gotten rolling for water
everywhere, he said. All these years those people have been overlooked.
The three former districts will maintain representation
on a new 5-member Greater Harrison board that will be created. The board
will be made up of two current Greater Harrison board members, Bill Coffindaffer
and Greg Robertson, as well as Evan Hugus, who is also a Valley of Good
Hope board member, Hudkins said. A board member from Quiet Dell and Lost
Creek will also be selected, he said.
Greater Harrison will also absorb the two full-time
employees at Quiet Dell. The Quiet Dell office will remain open as a satellite
office of Greater Harrison, Hudkins said.
Clarksburg businesses told
to beware of money scams
by James Fisher
Clarksburg Police are warning all area store clerks
to watch for a man and a woman they believe have scammed businesses out
of hundreds of dollars in the past weeks.
The pair, who hit the Eastpointe Chevron station
and Elbys about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, as well as stores in the Morgantown
area, use an age-old sleight-of-hand trick, said Clarksburg Police Detective
With the woman usually acting as a distraction,
the man approaches the counter to pay for items, Matheny said. He will
usually give the clerk a large bill for a low-priced item, and then question
the amount of change given, saying he handed the clerk a much smaller bill.
After pretending to check his pockets, the man will admit he gave the clerk
the larger bill.
Matheny said this is to lull the clerks with a false sense of security,
because of the mans apparent honesty.
However, this is when the real deception starts.
Still holding the change from the large bill, the
man will ask for the money back in exchange for a smaller bill. Sometimes
he may even ask the clerk to exchange the large bill for several smaller
bills, further confusing the situation.
The pair will then leave the store with the original bill, the change
and also the change from the smaller bill.
Matheny said the pair can get away with more than
double their original amount of money this way. These people are professionals,
he said. A lot of times the victims can feel as if theyve let down their
employers, but the hand is faster than the eye. These guys are fast-talkers
and pros at what they do.
Police are asking clerks to be more alert if anyone
begins to question the amount of change given. Keep all bills in sight
on the cash register until the transaction is complete, take time to look
at the bills denomination and dont allow bills to be traded back and
forth, Matheny said.
Also, if anyone feels they may be the victim of
this scam, try to get the plate number of the car, he said. The pair is
described as a black male, 6 feet tall with medium build and a thin moustache
and a white female with blonde hair.
They generally wear baseball caps, Matheny said,
and have been seen driving an older-model white Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Were asking clerks to be aware of this scam, he said. Be aware of the
suspects descriptions and contact the police if they come into your store.
Matheny said no other incidents have been reported
since Tuesday, but it is possible that clerks dont even realize theyve
been scammed. All you may notice is that your cash register is short at
the end of the day, Matheny said. They may not even realize what has