By CHAD ABSHIRE
WILLIAMSON - The Williamson City Council met Thursday, April 26, and discussed a number of topics, the first being the return of Councilman York Smith.
Smith had been absent from the recent council meetings, due to health-related problems.
When Mayor Darrin McCormick asked City Clerk Frances Frye to call the role, she began, as usual, with Smith.
“Thank God I’m here,” he said in response to having his name called.
The entirety of the council chambers burst into applause.
“York, welcome back,” McCormick said. “We missed you; I’m glad you’re back.”
“I’m glad to be back,” Smith said.
• McCormick began with his remarks, first sending out a congratulations to the STOP (Strong Through Our Plan) Coalition and Crossroads Recovery Shelter for a successful concert that was recently held at the Mountaineer Hotel on Second Avenue. The mayor also mentioned that Jimmy Wolford, local icon who performed at the concert, was honored with the street where he grew up, Watkins Place, also named Jimmy Wolford Place.
“He didn’t cry too many times that day,” McCormick said, laughing.
He also sent congratulations to Eric Mathis, director of the Jobs Project, for receiving an award from President Barack Obama for being a “Champion of Change.” The Mayor and West Virginia University Extension Professor Bill Richardson accompanied Mathis to the White House and were able to meet with a number of federal agencies about helping the city out.
• When it was Smith’s turn to speak after the mayor, he became emotional.
“It’s good to be here,” Smith said, slightly choking up in his speech. “I’d like to thank all the people who visisted me and sent me cards, phone-calls. Pete Dillon drove 100 miles to see me. He’s 84-years-old.”
He had nothing to say beyond that, saying he had already spoken to Jason Allen, project manager for Veolia Water.
• Councilman Matthew Thornsbury encouraged everyone to vote in the upcoming election.
“Excercise your rights,” he said. “We don’t have many left.”
McCormick agreed, saying “You have to get out and vote, guys.”
“People take it for granted,” the mayor said. “I got here (referring to his position) by five votes.
Smith also chimed in on the topic.
“If you don’t vote, don’t call me to help you,” he said.
• Dr. Diane Shafer was in attendance, speaking about the lifeguards at the Williamson City Pool. She said that they had trained 25 lifeguards last year, with the Rotary Club pitching in about $5,000 to do so. Each lifeguard, according to Shafer, gets a number of supplies to go along with American Red Cross training given by herself.
She said it was a 20-hour course to become a lifeguard, but that normally 40 hours were needed because of school. They began yesterday and the final day to apply is May 12.
Speaking of the training, she said: “When the 80-pound girl can rescue a 300-pound tank, we know we’ve been successful.”
• Paul Price also attended the meeting, and briefed the council on the upcoming “Rally in the Valley,” scheduled for May 5.
“It’s grown beyond belief,” Price said. “Hopefully it will be a big economic relief to Williamson.”
He said that 20 yendors and eight food vendors from Texas, Cleveland, Ohio and Tennessee would be coming to the area, not to mention a number more.
He also thanked Williamson Chief of Police C.D. Rockel and Lt. G.P. Dotson, as they had a security meeting “to get a game-plan together.”
“The cooperation will make it a success,” he said.
Neither Rockel nor Price could foresee any issues in the upcoming event, despite the rally being held on the final day of early voting in Mingo County.
“The courthouse will be left open and we will have a command post set up next to the coal house,” Rockel said. The chief also said that Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks didn’t see an issue with the event’s date.
“We hope it’s safe and successful and that it becomes an annual event,” McCormick said. He also told Rockel that overtime was authorized.
“Public safety is first,” the mayor said.
The Williamson City Council meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The next meeting will take place May 10.