|By Bob Weaver 11/24/2016|
Sources told the Hur Herald Tuesday that the State Police have kept quiet their promotion of 30 troopers by giving them newly titled Support Specialists positions, giving them a $4,000 pay increase.
While the agency says they are under severe state budget pressures to close detachments, the executive decision was made by the agency about two weeks ago, while at the same time they are cutting detachments in some of the state's most rural counties.
The Calhoun Commission is concerned about public safety in the county, with a response time from regional counties up to 40 miles away.
Commissioners are also concerned that county officials or citizens were not notified with slightly more than 30 days before closure, and the agency did not advise until the commissioners contacted them.
A statement from the WV State Police Office of Public Affairs points to efficiency concerns for the closures.
"While the decisions may seem sudden to members of the affected communities, the West Virginia State Police believes it has a moral responsibility to strive continually to be a good steward of taxpayer money. The decisions were only made after much thought, careful deliberation, and thorough consideration of alternative courses of action."
The agency indicates "focusing manpower and resource in a coordinated manner often makes more sense than having resources stretched thinly across the state."
Troopers will be scheduled to work areas when critical needs arise, they said.
The Calhoun Commission will address their concerns at a special meeting Monday at 11 a.m., and will likely take legal action to slow the process until after the legislature is in session.
The Wirt County Commission will have a public meeting Monday evening at 7 p.m. Public welcome.
COL. SMITHERS CONFIRMS CLOSURE OF GRANTSVILLE DETACHMENT - Says Three Detachments Being Closed Initially, Calhoun Commission Will Take Up Issue Monday
By Bob Weaver 11/22/2016
WV State Police Col. C. R. "Jay" Smithers confirmed today that the Grantsville Detachment is being closed December 31.
Smithers said so far only Grantsville, Elizabeth and Hundred detachments are on the short list for closure, indicating that state budget cuts are moving the decision.
Targeted are the state's most rural counties.
"We are extremely close to laying off troopers," he said.
Smithers maintains that troopers from Gilmer, Clay and Roane will be able to provide adequate coverage to Calhoun.
The Calhoun Commission will be meeting Monday with a special meeting to discuss and take action on the issue.
CALHOUN STATE POLICE DETACHMENT CLOSING DEC. 31 - Detachment Will Be Moved To Glenville, Calhoun Commission Will Protest
By Bob Weaver 11/22/2016
While no official information has been released, several WV detachments, mostly in rural counties, are being closed by the WV State Police.
The Grantsville Detachment is being moved to a different company in Glenville.
This is at least the third effort being made to close the Grantsville Detachment in several years. (See earlier stories below))
During previous closure efforts, the Calhoun Commission was proactive in keeping the detachment in the county.
The commission has scheduled a special meeting Monday to consider the closure.
Commissioners said the absence of the detachment in the county will drastically affect law enforcement, while the agency has said they will send patrols into the county.
Additionally, it would appear the agency is moving toward downsizing the number of troopers serving the state.
CALHOUN STATE POLICE DETACHMENT CLOSING AGAIN? - Elizabeth Detachment Given Axe
By Bob Weaver 11/21/2016
The West Virginia State Police confirmed to WTAP-TV that it plans to close its Elizabeth barracks for budgetary reasons.
Lt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman, says the closing is to take effect January 1.
The station says he calls the closing "a difficult decision", adding the State Police have considered consolidations or closings of its smaller posts since 2011.
Lt. Baylous declined to say the closing was related to budget cuts ordered earlier this week by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
While Baylous said no other local State Police offices are affected by the closing, unconfirmed reports say the Hundred detachment is being closed and others are on the chopping block.
The Hur Herald has reached out to a number of State Police officials to confirm what detachments are being closed.
The Grantsville Detachment, in addition to a number of other rural detachments, have been on the chopping block before (Read earlier stories below), the local closing widely opposed by the Calhoun Commission.
In Feb. 2016 the Gazette Mail, in reporting a major shortfall in the state budget, said the agency said there would be layoffs of 87 state troopers, along with five forensic analysts, two evidence technicians and three support staff from the State Police forensic laboratory.
That Feb. 2016 report said State Police detachments in Hundred, Grafton, Berkeley Springs, Parsons, Grantsville, St. Mary's, Elizabeth and Quincy would be closed.
It was unclear what cuts and detachments are on the current cut list.
CALHOUN STATE POLICE DETACHMENT WILL STAY OPEN FOR NOW
May 10, 2013
The Hur Herald reported earlier this week that State Police officials in Charleston are reportedly moving again to close the Grantsville/Calhoun detachment of the agency.
Sen. Larry Edgell, who represents the county, said Thursday that Col. C. R. "Jay" Withers of the WVSP, after Edgell inquired about the matter, advised the agency will not be closing the detachment this year.
The agency has apparently closed the day-to-day business operations of the office by not rehiring an office secretary.
(Note: A new office secretary was hired)
Del. David Walker, who also spoke to officials, also confirmed that the detachment would stay open for now.
The agency previously moved to withdraw from Calhoun in 2011, but dropped the effort following Calhoun Commission efforts to keep the detachment open.
Col. C. R. "Jay" Smithers told the Calhoun Commission in 2011 that the proposed closure of the Grantsville detachment was a cost-savings move, with the possible closure of 20 other detachments, recommended by a study done by the agency.
The Calhoun Commission has opposed the singling out of the Calhoun detachment for closure.
The Grantsville barracks is leased for $600 a month
Commissioners are protesting the move based on long response times over crooked roads from neighboring detachments, particularly when high-risk incidents happen.
About two months ago, information surfaced again that the Grantsville and Elizabeth detachments secretary would not be replaced, following the retirement of detachment secretaries. The Elizabeth secretary was re-hired.
Commissioners, after hearing the rumors about two months ago, contacted state representatives about the matter, with the agency denying the movement, saying the Calhoun secretary position would be posted.
Public Information Officer Michael Baylous in 2011 told state media, "We continually review our daily operations in an attempt to become more effective and efficient as an agency."
Baylous said the State Police is always willing to make changes to financially benefit the citizens of West Virginia and keep the public safe.
Following the publishing of the proposed closure in 2011 by the Hur Herald, agency supervisors advised local detachment officers to no longer release public information locally.
The agency has also declined general information and Freedom of Information requests from state media outlets for a list of detachments (21) on a proposed closure list.
See related story STATE POLICE SAY THEY WILL NOT CLOSE GRANTSVILLE DETACHMENT - Agency Purchasing Premo Clay Property For $350,000