By Bobby Bordelon
The city of Ronceverte has seen a number of personnel changes in the past few weeks, including the appointment of a new city councilmember, an interim city manager, and a new Public Works Director.
After the recent departure of Councilmember Barbara Morgan, council voted to appoint Leah Sills to fill her seat on council.
“I’m just excited and honored to have been voted on by the current [council],” said Sills. “I grew up in Greenbrier County, I’ve lived here in Ronceverte for about 14 years now. I just want to help out my community however I can.”
Sills’ resume includes her credentials as a Juris Doctorate received from the WVU College of Law, a bachelor of arts from the University of the South in Spanish, and graduating with honors from Greenbrier East High School. Her work experience includes positions as a supervising attorney for Legal Aid of West Virginia and as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Monroe County. Sills, expecting to just be in for a few minutes, was able instead to attend her first meeting as a councilmember on Thursday, September 14.
“This was a nice surprise, I didn’t know I was going to get to come aboard and stick around for the first meeting,” Sills said to her fellow councilmembers. “I’ll take any recommendations for what I need to read to get up to speed. I want to start with those [pointing at the water project plan books and drawings sitting on the table in front of council]. … I’m excited.”
Although Sills is not coming in with a specific agenda, she hopes to continue the efforts of council and several downtown organizations with improving the city.
“I love seeing the community improvement projects like the walkway they just put down on the island,” Sills said. “I’d love to continue to see the downtown area beautify and get more business in here, get more people involved in the city. My kids live here, I’d like them to be proud of where they live and to continue to feel good about taking them down to the island to play basketball, hang out in the city.
In addition, she also voiced total support for the city’s much-needed ongoing water project.
“I totally support [the water project],” Sills explained. “I know there are a lot of people in the community that … are mad about the price of the water but it’s one of the most important things the city can provide for its community is water. While it may not be a welcome thing to consider, how expensive the water is to the citizens, I think it’s extremely important. I think we’re seeing all over the nation and all over the world what happens when you can’t provide fresh water.”
Sills was not the only appointment – Ronceverte Accounting Manager Pam Mentz was appointed to serve as the interim city manager until a new one can be found to replace former city manager Reba Mohler.
“I’m just standing in to fill the gap because Ronceverte is in my heart,” said Mentz. “I want to see us do some great things.”
In addition, following the departure of Rusty Byer Jr. from the streets department to serve as the managing officer of the Alderson Police Department, two other people have shifted positions – Rodney Brooks was appointed Public Works Director and officer Jack Meadows is leaving the Ronceverte Police Department to go to Alderson.
“Rodney left the city, probably, about five years ago, but before that he worked for water and streets for 11 years,” Mentz said. “He knows this city, he knows the water lines, and he’s a very valuable asset to us. He came back to the department about four months ago and Rusty did recommend him.”
The Ronceverte department currently has five full-time officers and one part-time officer, with Chief Jerry Hopkins noting he was satisfied with that number.