Rainelle council member responds to mayor’s criticism, public’s concerns about safety

RAINELLE, WV (WOAY) – In response to the ongoing issues in Rainelle with break-ins, drugs and squatting, Rainelle Mayor Jason Smith recently put out a statement saying that he has been trying to get the town council and Town Recorder Bill Bell to work with him and the police department to help solve the issues.

However, councilman John Wyatt says it is the other way around saying the council and recorder stand together and the mayor has isolated himself. 

“We’re all together in wanting to do something good, something better for the town and to help the problems that we’re having. Our recorder, our recorder has done yeoman’s work since he’s been elected as town recorder,” Wyatt said. 

One of the big issues is that Rainelle has two police officers. Wyatt says the mayor has complete control over this department. 

However, since the council saw that nothing was being done about the ongoing issues with the officers they had, they passed an ordinance to freeze the hiring for the police department. 

Both the Police Chief Dean Fankell and Mayor Smith have spoken out against this wondering how the council expects productivity and results from a two-man department.

John Wyatt says they do not want new police officers to come in and just be part of the inactivity. 

“And if they were doing their job, if they were addressing the problems that are in their town, I don’t think there would be a problem in hiring another police officer,” Wyatt said. 

The mayor has since declared a town emergency in hopes to go over the hiring freeze and hire officers on his own.

Wyatt was critical of the mayor and says that  him isolating himself has caused the big divide. In his statement, Mayor Smith says the council is channeling all of their energy toward attacking him and the police department rather than solving issues. 

Wyatt encourages the public as he says the mayor will be the mayor until next summer but until then, he encourages the public to keep coming out and letting their voices be heard as there have been crowds of about 60 outside of chambers at the last two meetings.  

“They may disagree on certain issues, but they’re coming together, and that’s what’s going to help Rainelle,” Wyatt said. 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.