(03/20/2001)
The financially riddled Town of Clay is without a mayor after the angry resignation of Dr. Sharooz Jamie, who held the job for only a month. Sharooz says the town is in debt from $40,000 to $70,000, indicating a problem with financial records. He says the town is adding another $10,000 in debt each month, even after losing the police chief, certified water operators and street workers.

Temporary Police Chief Linda Gray, according to the Clay Communicator, walked out of a recent council meeting and left her gun at the front desk. The town's Christmas lights are still up, no town employees to take them down.

The Clay Communicator says Sharooz resigned after a "yelling and screaming" match at a council meeting. Sharooz quit when he did not receive support of council members after he insisted on rehiring a fired water plant operator. Sharooz recently replaced Mayor Joyce Gibson who quit because of an illness.

Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito (Republican) has reportedly obtained a $50,000 emergency loan for the beleaguered town, but Clay officials say they have not received the money.

The nearly bankrupt town is looking at the construction of a new water plant.

The town and counties public water system has been in disarray for several months, after the state Bureau of Public Health made a surprise visit. They declared the water was dangerous to drink and the Clay school system has been purchasing bottled water to keep the schools open. Health official J. D. Douglas said water taken directly from the Elk River was nearly the same as the treated water.

Boil water orders have been in effect during much of 2001 since certified water operators cannot be kept on the payroll. West Virginia Water Company has been providing free temporary operators and relief, but they are scheduled to leave.

The town's water system supplies public service districts in the county. They too are in financial distress and seeking rate hikes.


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