By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Two new Shinnston City Council members will be sworn in at noon Friday, July 1 – Bill Watson and Maxine Weser. Both weigh in on their hopes and plans for the city.
Watson, a retired history teacher at Lincoln High School who grew up in Enterprise and who now lives in Shinnston, said he’s ready to get to work.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to serve the community,” he stated. “I just thought it was time to offer some change.”
But he gives credit to what council has already been working on or accomplished, such as garnering the Playful City, U.S.A. distinction, the sidewalk project from Lincoln High to the Rails to Trails entrance, the City Park, the swimming pool … things he said are very positive.
“They’ve already done a lot of good things,” he reports. “It’s one of the nicest pools you can find.”
Watson said he agrees they need to continue to focus efforts toward the new water supply line that runs from the filtration plant into the city limits. He also wants to see fencing built around the park in order to better monitor the area for safety issues.
“It would be good because then you could control what is going on in the park, creating better surveillance” he stated, adding that fencing would also enable the city to have ticketed concerts, allowing them to monitor the flow and attendance.
“Now it’s hard to charge for concerts,” he stated, saying that they could bring in popular country singers that would promote attendance.
But, he said he realizes that adding fencing would most likely be in the not-so-near future.”That would be a huge expense at this date,” he added.
One major issue Watson said is important to him is to provide better transparency through better communication and clarity on issues for the citizens. He explains that when council takes a vote they should “give a brief synopsis of the resolutions and ordinances.”
“I’d like to see more transparency for the citizens so they can be better informed,” Watson said. “A lot of time the people in attendance don’t know what is being voted upon. Council just assumes they know what’s going on.”
Watson wants to have more regular fiscal review via monthly financial reports from the Financial Director. “Then everyone on council will know where our money is coming from and where it’s going,” he stated.
Watson said he’s pleased to be helping further the efforts by former council members and also contribute his own ideas and initiatives to move Shinnston forward.
“I’d like to commend the former council members and their accomplishments,” he remarked. “They’re good people. And I’m looking forward to working with all the incumbents.”
Weser is not totally new to council, having served an appointment to fill the seat of Sam Belcastro who passed away during his term. She was elected for one of the two-year terms under the new charter when voters voted to change the government from a mayor-council to city manager-council in 1998. All together she served as a council member from 1997 to 2000.
Born in Spelter, Weser grew up in Viropa and graduated from Shinnston High School. She has lived in Shinnston since 1976.
She and Watson are on the same page about some issues.
She agrees that giving a synopsis in the council meetings of the items discussed or to be voted upon is a good idea.
“They just say the title,” Weser said. “When they do that the only thing the public knows is the title. We’d like to see it explained to the people for total openness in government.”
Citing some personal experience and issues some citizens have had regarding road issues, Weser said she would like to have a 15 to 20 year paving schedule. Her main concern, though, is to deal with the water line issue. “I want to make sure the new water line from the plant is installed,” she stated. It’s very important!”
Regarding the fencing around the park, Weser said she would consider it. “I would be open to hearing the pros and cons about that, just like I am open to that for everything.”
Weser said she believes in being careful with how taxpayers’ dollars are spent. “I’m not a real progressive person,” she said. “I’m very fiscally responsible.”
Weser has a thorough and broad plan for her term, she reports.
“My vision for my term on council is to have a totally transparent government, excel at services a city should provide, such as water, sewer, streets, sidewalks, police protection, respect all employees and provide a living wage to encourage longevity of employment, be responsible to all citizens and to make sound fiscal decisions,” she stated.
She said she’s looking forward to tackling the job. “I’m pretty excited!”
Weser was Shinnston City Clerk from 2006 to 2009; was Museum Director of the Bice-Ferguson Museum in Shinnston from 2006 to 2014; and was Treasurer of the Lowe Public Library Board of Directors. She retired as U.S. postmaster after 35 years of service.
Mary Ann Ferris was the only incumbent to be re-elected, and Pat Kovalck was elected to complete his appointed term.