TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

March 14, 2014

Interim mayor appointed in Barbourville

Darren West sworn in at special-called meeting


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Barbourville began a new chapter Thursday night during a special-called meeting of the city council.

Council members gathered at city hall for one purpose — to appoint an interim mayor for the city.

And the man appointed to the job was now-former council member Darren West.

The crowd for the meeting was thinner than in recent council meetings — the bulk of attendees were city employees.

But all six council members were in attendance — West, Ronnie Moore, Sherman Lawson, Gary Williams, Wilma Barnes and Janet Hyde.

Council members first decided to name Lawson to preside over the night’s actions. Moore motioned for that, with a second from Barnes.

A roll-call vote showed council members were unanimous with this decision.

Without hesitation Williams then motioned to appoint West as the city’s mayor, with a second from Moore.

Council members were also unanimous with this decision.

After the brief meeting adjourned, those in attendance were told West was to be sworn in — council members were waiting for a notary public to arrive.

“I thank council members for the trust (they’ve given me),” West said. “(We want) to do the best we can for all of Barbourville.”

He said being named mayor was a “humbling” event.

“I ran for this opportunity years ago,” West said. “I was looking to help the city in my own little way — (and) I want to continue to make (the city) as vibrant and growing as possible.”

He added that he wanted economic development, and to “make the police department better and make the fire department better.”

But West said he can’t do it on his own. “I need the council and residents to help (and offer) input,” he said.

Town hall meetings could be something else to see in Barbourville. West said he’d like to do those “every so often, just for the people’s input.”

He also vowed transparency, and added that work on the city’s website will likely be performed in the future to help aid in that expected transparency.

“We’ll do what we can to make the city a family-friendly and business-friendly place to come to,” he said.

West replaces former mayor David Thompson, who was ousted earlier this week by a unanimous vote of council members.

It remains unclear whether the civil action filed by Thompson through his attorney Monday has been scheduled in court. That action claims all six council members violated the state’s Open Meetings Act on two separate occasions while deciding to remove Thompson from office.

If it is found those violations are legitimate, removing Thompson from office could be voided.

As it is, West will only act as interim mayor until Dec. 31 — the mayor’s seat is up for grabs in November.

The decision to remove Thompson from office came after a state audit released in January revealed 28 critical findings, many of which directly or indirectly involved the former mayor.

Council members used 11 of those findings as the basis to oust Thompson.

CLARIFICATION

Several meetings have been held in the city of Barbourville recently. While regular meetings happen on schedule, special-called meetings can often happen during any given month.

That has been the case with Barbourville City Council in the last several weeks. Most often, council members are tasked to call special meetings.

However, the meeting which occurred Feb. 24 was not called for by members of the city council, according to council members Gary Williams and Wilma Barnes.

At that meeting, city attorney Charley Green Dixon outlined the state auditor’s findings and what was being done to implement the auditor’s recommendations.

“We did not know that was going to happen that night,” Williams clarified. “We never saw anything (that we were told) was implemented.”

He added that no council members received a copy of what Dixon had reviewed for council members and city residents that Feb. 24 meeting.