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New mayor wants to keep open lines with city officials

June 07, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Newly elected mayor Peggy Smith was sworn in Monday night and announced efforts to address citizens' concerns and ways to keep residents informed about city issues.

Smith said the city will begin listing a condensed version of minutes from Charles Town City Council meetings on the city's Web site at www.charlestownwv.us.

Smith also wants the minutes to be published in local newspapers.

Also, Smith arranged to have a photograph taken of council members, which she hopes also will be published in local newspapers.This will allow citizens to see which council member represents their ward, Smith said.

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Smith said she wants citizens to feel free to report any city-related problems to their council representatives.

Citizens will be encouraged to make such calls to City Hall, and all calls will be logged and will be addressed by council members at council meetings, Smith said.

Smith said she came up with the idea of logging citizen complaints because she does not want to see instances of problems not being addressed for years.

"We want to address things right away. What we're trying to do is keep everyone informed. I just thought it was a good way to start," Smith said.

Smith and three new council members dealt with their first controversy Monday.

A group of residents in the Jefferson Avenue area expressed concern about a proposal to annex a former grocery store building at 835 Jefferson Ave. into the city.

Although there are plans to have a furniture store in the building, there is also a request for the city to zone the property general commercial, which would allow other commercial uses in the building, city officials said.

Nearby residents told council members they believe they were not properly informed about the annexation and questioned why the property needs to be rezoned.

Council members agreed to table the issue and have the city planning commission look into the residents' concerns.

Smith asked the residents to leave their names and street addresses with city officials so they could be contacted to attend a planning commission meeting about the issue.

Smith overcame opposition from Gene Perkins and Shirley Calhoun in the city's May 26 election.

Sandra Slusher McDonald, Amy Schmitt and Donald Watson Clendening were the winners of three open seats on city council. Incumbent council member Geraldine Willingham ran unopposed.

Former Mayor Randy Hilton swore in Smith on Monday night and Smith swore in McDonald, Schmitt, Clendening and Willingham.

A loud applause went up from a crowd that was assembled when Smith was sworn in.

"I know we're not going to agree on everything and that's good," Smith said.

If council members and the mayor agree on everything, that shows the group is not thinking, she said.

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