JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
WILLIAMSON – If you text and drive, you will be cited, and the City of Williamson will be in a position to receive funds from your ticket, thanks to an ordinance presented at the regular meeting of the Williamson City Council.
The West Virginia legislature recently passed a bill that makes it illegal to drive while texting or using a telephone without a hands-free device. The ordinance presented to council by Mayor Darrin McCormick states a person cannot drive while using a cellular phone to text or to talk while holding the phone.
“We have all been guilty of this at one time or another,” Mayor McCormick said. “Now it is illegal.”
The ordinance uses the term “electronic communications device,” which can include a personal digital assistant, pager or computer.
Drivers can dial a number into a phone, or push a button or touch a screen to answer a call.
The ordinance, McCormick said, is nearly identical to the one used by the West Virginia legislature to address the problem of distracted driving.
For texting and driving, the law will go into effect July 1, but for talking on a cell phone, drivers will be given a year before receiving anything more than a warning.
The first offense of the violation will carry a $100 fine, the second offense a $200 fine, and the third offense a $300 fine.
By passing the ordinance, the City will be able to collect the fines paid by violators.
In other business, Council members agreed to a draw down of monies leftover from a demolition project in the city.
The West Williamson Grade school was leveled, and just over $52,000 of the grant money obtained for the demolition was not used. That money will be used to install handicap ramps in from of City Hall.
Mayor McCormick said he wanted to express his gratitude for community involvement at the community garden in East Williamson. People recently working at the garden were removing debris, and some observant neighbors noticed and assumed the workers were stealing from the garden.
The neighbors alerted the Williamson Police Department, who came out the scene and were able to ascertain that there was no theft taking place.
“I think it’s great that the community is that involved,” McCormick said. “I would also like to thank our police department for their quick response to that call.”
The mayor also invited the public to attend the Independence Day Celebration thrown each year by the city and Veolia, along with other sponsors, at the West Williamson pool. He said there will be free admission to the pool, a Fourth of July presentation, and free refreshments. The party will be on Wednesday, July 4, hours will be announced at a later date.
The mayor used the meeting as an opportunity to praise those who came together to make last weekend’s Hatfield McCoy Marathon and Festival a success.
“I want to thank the Tug Valley Roadrunners, Mingo County Commission, our fire and police departments, the garden club, Veolia, and many others who worked so hard to make the event such a success,” McCormick said. “We have been blessed in the Tug Valley with the opportunity created by the History Channel, the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, Bill Richardson and others. I can’t say enough about how we need to capitalize on that opportunity.”
The mayor said the most often made comment about the area is to note the hospitality of the residents.
“In Hatfield McCoy tradition, we will feed you before we kill you,” the mayor joked.