Meeting maneuvers described

July 02, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Several current members of the Martinsburg City Council met at a council member's private office last June for a discussion on how much support Mayor Earnest Sparks would get on the council in coming years, Council Member Glenville Twigg said at a press conference Tuesday.

Twigg said he also was asked at the meeting at Council member Max Parkinson's real estate office whether he would consider replacing former council member Richard Wachtel on the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority.

Twigg said he called the press conference so the media could "get all the facts straight" about the meeting, the legality of which has been questioned by some council members.


West Virginia's open meetings law requires public bodies to notify the public of the time and place of regular meetings and special meetings. Violation of the laws carries a fine up to $500 or a jail term of up to 10 days.

The issue came to light last Friday when Twigg was asked by a WEPM radio station talk show host whether there was an illegal meeting a year ago in which a quorum of the council was present.

Twigg said there was concern at the time about whether the meeting, held at Parkinson's office along U.S. 11 north of town, was illegal.

"The people there scurried to make sure that vehicles weren't parked all on the front so that all the vehicles couldn't be seen from the highway. They were taking no chances," Twigg said.

Twigg said part of the discussion at the meeting was about how the city treasurer's job would be filled. Several people at the meeting wanted to be treasurer, and Twigg was asked whether he would be willing to give the post to someone else after a year, Twigg said.

Twigg, who is treasurer, said he disagreed with the idea.

Twigg said the people at the meeting included Sparks, council members Richard Yauger and Max Parkinson, Mark Baker, Doug Widmeyer, chairman of the Berkeley County Democratic executive committee, and Merle Butts, who had just been elected to the council.

Twigg said he could not support removing Wachtel from the airport authority, so he agreed to miss a council meeting so the rest of the council could vote to remove Wachtel.

"I'm sorry I did it now. I knew I was wrong," said Twigg.

Parkinson said he did not want to comment in detail about Twigg's comments.

"There was at no time any illegal private meeting at this office," Parkinson said Tuesday.

Sparks said he was at a meeting at Parkinson's office, but he declined to comment further.

Yauger and Butts could not be reached for comment.

The Herald-Mail Articles