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Line in the sand....

Bramwell Town Council Meeting

May 8th, 2023

7:00PM Agenda





Police Department / New Graduate, Aaron Simpkins

Fire Department / Thanks for Community Support for Fire at Rock


May 12: Evening / “All Together Arts Trolley Ride”

May 13: 8AM - Second Annual Zach Blankenship Memorial Kayak Float / Starting at Cooper Dock / Ending at Riverfront ATV Resort

May 20: All Day - GLEN GOINS ATV Ride & Entertainment Riverfront ATV Resort

May 23: Auditors

May 24: 10AM MEDIA RIDE starting at Town Hall

May 27: 6PM to 9PM Concert at the Depot “Dave Watkins Band”

May 31: Early Voting Start


5. JACKIE SHAHN: Question about Dogs


The Monday May 8th Bramwell Town Council meeting opened around 7PM, having met the quorum requirements, mayor Louise Stoker introduced the following guests: Leo Lester who currently serves on the River Valley Trails Committee for Mercer County there to give an update on the proposed easements to provide public access to the Bluestone National Scenic River in Mercer County, which include the already-existing boat launch site called Cooper’s Landing in the Coopers district of Bramwell and another easement located just behind the Bramwell Town Hall and Volunteer Fire Department. It is noteworthy to mention that on Saturday May 20th several local agencies, including the Mercer County Litter Control, the West Virginia REAP program and the Mercer County Commission led a collaborative effort to coordinate the clean up of the Bluestone National Scenic River along a four-mile route encompassing the proposed boats launches in Coopers of Bramwell, and Spanishburg and Camp Creek (which are two unincorporated communities in Mercer County).

The mayor also introduced Mike Kennett who serves as chairman of the Mercer County Public Service District and Stacy Fowler Senior Project Manager at the Thompson & Litton engineering firm to present the idea of Bramwell annexing certain residences on Pinnacle Rock (located off of Rt. 52) into the town of Bramwell in order to allow Bluewell Public Service Department to submit a request for a grant from the West Virginia Recovery Plan funded by the American Rescue Plan Act fund to provide water to that region. According to Mr. Kennett, approximately 60% of Mercer County does not have access to potable water. The last estimate, assessed in 2004 shows roughly 38-50 residences in need of annexation, with only approximately thirteen residents having signed a petition to request the annexation. A few concerns were voiced regarding this annexation, such as will the annexation decrease the financial encumbrance on current residents, will work be completed by local contractors amongst other concerns about the current struggles of the Bluewell PSD to keep up with contemporaneous water demands and proposed tariffs to cover water tapping fees all while meeting a deadline to qualify for grant monies (being December 24, 2023).

After a short recess, the Bramwell town council meeting resumed with agenda item number two and included a little scuffle between town recorder Susan Troutner and Louise Stoker regarding voting in the minutes from the most recent town meetings. Mrs. Troutner, who was elected to take meeting minutes for all official town meetings, insisted (and rightly so as this is her duly-elected duty) that the minutes she took and NOT the minutes taken down by the town clerk be used as the official and recorded minutes from the emergency budget meeting that occurred sometime in April. The mayor persisted in her ignorant thread to vote in the “minutes” recorded by the town clerk. This is just another example amongst a multitude of examples of the ineptitude and stupidity of the mayor. Why don’t we just have some “joe schmoe” off the street record the town meeting minutes and vote them into the record? One imbecilic town council member nonchalantly retorted to the town recorder, “it will be over in another month anyways, so don’t worry about it.” Mrs. Troutner admirably stood her ground, cue cretinous and raucous laughter/applause from some unknown idiot in the congregation. Several town residents voiced their concerns that this was not protocol and the mayor called on her lackey, the town police chief, to intervene and resume order, which was clearly unnecessary as the town residents present were hardly out-of-order, but wait…. the night is just beginning.

Pursuant to agenda item number two, the town recorder brought up concerns regarding the consistent overspending on the town budget, not mentioning any specifics, but some discrepancies regarding the upcoming 2023 budget were called into question. This is not surprising as the mayor has not been consistent nor forthright about the town’s spending. According to the town recorder, there are shortcomings in the proposed 2023 budget, including misappropriations, unclear antecedents for allocated funds, and there are allegedly 46 missing checks from the town financial report, Mrs. town recorder stated without this information, Bramwell “really doesn’t have any idea where our money is.” If this is not concerning to my fellow town residents and not indicative of a much-needed administration change, Bramwell is in far dire straits than originally perceived. This type of mismanagement cannot go on without legal retribution or at the very least, certainly cannot continue. One town council member suggested that budget concerns should be addressed AFTER the June municipal elections and wisely one town council member intervened saying that despite the upcoming elections and any changes that that may pose, it is incumbent on the present council to address the current town budget concerns. For the present, the majority of the council voted to accept this month’s town financial statement and Mrs. town recorder, justly and honorably opposed.

The Bramwell police chief gave the police report with the following items of note: firstly, Aaron Simpkins has graduated from the police academy and is now certified and secondly, the entire police force recently qualified in firearms. A representative from the Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department gave their report next, mentioning several members achieving their certifications in Road Rescue, Vehicle Education, and CPR and First Aid.

The next segment of the Bramwell Town Council Meeting included an in-depth overview of upcoming town events. Please reference the above-included agenda item number three. It was at this juncture that Susan Troutner mentioned that due to increased property values in Bramwell there is a line item in the town budget that should be noted, which mayor Lou flippantly ignored.

Quickly moving on to agenda item number four, mayor Lou returned to the previous topic of the annexation of the residents of Pinnacle Rock AND the annexation of the ‘Workman” property (referring to the home of James and Sharon Workman up on Bramwell Hill Road). The town council unanimously voted to not only move forward with the annexation of the Workman property, but also the properties up on Pinnacle Rock.

Next, town resident Jackie Shahan was recognized by the council to revisit a concern that she brought up in the November 2022 meeting regarding animal control within town limits. It was at this point that mayor Lou naively confirmed that the accepted town ordinance currently on file in her office regarding animal control is unsigned, and presumably unenforceable and consequently useless. Jackie proceeded to advise all present that she was told this item could be address at the next meeting, but the December meeting was canceled and as there was apparently no town business in January, we can only conclude that the mayor essentially ignored Jackie Shahan’s request to be heard until this meeting, being a full six months from her initial request. Jackie kindly asked that an animal control ordinance be effectively written, signed and recorded at town hall with one exception that since the primary alleged offending party being one of the Bramwell Town Council herself, Jackie asked that said council member be recused from voting on this issue.

This town council member objected to being named specifically, which from my knowledge no one person was named specifically, just general examples of animals being chained up, animals barking at all times of the night, and animals roaming free in town. It was at this point, that one irate and insensible town resident mentioned some random dog at the Pop Shop (which is our local gas station). It is unclear why this attendee expected Jackie to bring up a disruptive dog in an area of the town as an example in her address to the council when Jackie clearly did not encounter this dog specifically. Quite strange, indeed. To quote one town council member, “moving on, moving on”, but the rest of the congregation obviously did not get that memo as the irrational person in the audience started incoherently yelling at all present. Now, I love my dogs, but someone was obviously triggered by the topic at hand. After the mayor outlined the process of getting an ordinance into record, she promised to get the lawyer to look over the proposed animal control ordinance and we now pessimistically await action on this item, but we knowingly better won’t hold our breaths.

With that, the meeting was succintly adjourned.

Line in the Sand:

Although most of this synopsis is heavily laced with my own opinion, albeit at times an unpopular opinion, it was always my wholehearted desire to bring to light the corruption and failures in our current administration. My object was never to present Bramwell in a negative way and if you fear that my writings have painted Bramwell so, you recognize alongside me that our town needs now more than ever to oust the guilty parties and elect a more honorable, selfless, and transparent government. If you too have felt that the goings on at town hall are not kosher and yet you continue to elect those who would rather serve their own selfish interests rather than that of Bramwell, you are just as guilty as the mayor and her cronies. Now is the time for courage to stand up for Bramwell. I implore each and every one of you that have the power to do so, vote on June 13th, 2023 for change. Bramwell residents deserve the very best from their elected leaders and you don’t need me to tell you that Lou and her leadership is the very cancer that has eaten away at this great town. The town has survived DESPITE Lou and her corruption because Bramwell’s people are the most generous and good-hearted folks that I have come to know. I have faith in the good people of Bramwell, that we all want the best for our beautiful and amazing town. We can preserve Bramwell’s history. We can restore Bramwell’s present. And we can ensure Bramwell’s future.

Goodnight my friends, Bramwell is in your capable hands.

I apologize for any typos, it was late when I wrote this and I did not have much time to proofread. God Bless!

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