Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:29PM - 523 Views

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Chad Abshire

Staff Writer

MATEWAN — The Matewan Town Council met Tuesday evening and, in its first meeting of the new year, swore two new chiefs into duty.

Mayor Sheila Kessler swore Patrick Allen Mounts in as the town’s new chief of police after the council accepted the resignation of its previous chief, David Stratton. Mounts, who has been an officer with Matewan for roughly two-and-a-half years, noted that he had “big shoes to fill,” as the town’s new chief.

“They are,” Kessler said, “but we’re glad to have you here.”

Mounts was sworn in with his family by his side: his wife, Melissa, daughter, Haley, son, Patrick Jr., and father, Ronnie.

Shortly after Mounts was sworn in, the council accepted the resignation of the town’s fire chief, Mike Preston. The candidate for Matewan’s next fire chief was present and was also sworn in by Kessler.

Bryan C. Castro, assistant state fire marshal, was sworn into duty as Matewan’s fire chief with the assumption that he recieved his equivalency certification by Feb. 8. He was sworn in with Marcella Charles at his side.

Castro said that, as a new resident to the town, he was “part of the community now,” and wanted “to do all I can to help.”

The town’s newest part-time officer was also introduced, 20-year-old Matewan native, Zach Lester. Lester said that he had intentions of intending the West Virginia State Police Academy in the future and was “excited at the opportunity before him.”

Besides swearing in new chiefs, the council discussed the Thacker Water Project, which is now become reality. Kessler announced that the West Virginia Public Service Commission had officially approved the project.

Patrick Rawlings, senior designer at Triad Engineering, Inc., spoke to the council about the next steps to take regarding Thacker.

“It puts us in a position to advertise for construction,” Rawlings said. He suggested that the council run ads for the next three Tuesdays in the Daily News and a Charleston-based newspaper and open bids on Feb. 5. He asked if the council was in agreement with his suggestions.

“I don’t think you’re going to get any objections from us,” Kessler said.

Kessler told the Daily News that the project was “a long time coming.”

“We worked hard for this,” Kessler said. “These things always take longer than you think. The people who live in Thacker deserve clean, potable water. We will do everything we can to help.”

The council also touched on three other topics before adjourning:

• The council accepted Veolia Water’s CPI increase at 1.408 percent, with Kessler saying that the town had negotiated it as low as possible.

• The 2013 election was briefly discussed. The filing period will take place from Jan. 14 to Jan 26, and ballot commissioners will be appointed between Jan. 15 and Jan. 30. The council will discuss the election further at its February meeting.

• The council officially supported the proposed bond levy that the public will vote on in March. Kessler that she had spoken with Superintendent Randy Keathley, who assured her that the levy had not increased. Funds from the levy are used to support county schools.

The Matewan Town Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12. Meetings are open to the public.

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