By Lyra Bordelon
Although not on the agenda for the Rainelle Town Council meeting, a number of social media comments on the town’s live stream of the meeting raised the question of policing. Since the resignation of Mayor Jason Smith and issues between council and the now-former chief of police, the Rainelle Police Department is on the minds of many in the community.
Acting Mayor Bill Bell explained that although the town is currently without a chief of police, he has been in touch with Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan and the State Police, looking to keep officers in town.
“Greenbrier County [Sheriff’s deputies] have been patrolling extra to help us until we get our feet put under us, along with the State Police,” said Bell. “They have done a marvelous job, what they have done has been phenomenal.”
Many on social media have posted about a potential contract between the town and the sheriff’s department – Bell stated this was currently not true.
“We haven’t come to a term or a contract yet on how many hours – somebody posted online last night [during the meeting] that we had them working 30 hours,” Bell said. “That is not true at this moment. That’s what I would like to see happen. … I don’t know where that is coming from; what time they’re spending here, they’re spending here as deputies.”
Hoping to get a fully operational department back, Bell or Town Council have not yet found a replacement for former chief Dean Fankell.
“I have reached out to a couple of different people,” Bell said. “We want to make sure we get the right person to fill that position, … but so far I haven’t had any luck.”
Despite this, Bell is optimistic about Rainelle’s future.
“We’re going to be successful,” Bell said. “This end of the county will be successful. We’re made that way, we’re resilient, and maybe hard-headed is another word, but we’re stubborn enough to be winners. We’re gonna win this battle with things going on in small communities everywhere.”