Council members review a mutual aid agreement between the Buckhannon Police Department and the City of Weston Police Department. Pictured, from left, are Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders, Mayor Robbie Skinner and Councilman Jack Reger. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

BPD partners with nearby police departments as WAMSB approaches; Plans for a tree-lighting ceremony in Jawbone Park are in the works

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Police Department is teaming up with neighboring law enforcement agencies as the largest event to ever take place in the city – the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands championship – draws closer.

The partnerships take the form of mutual aid agreements, the most recent of which was discussed at Tuesday’s regular Buckhannon City Council meeting. Council members voted to sign a mutual aid agreement between the Buckhannon Police Department and the neighboring Weston Police Department.

Buckhannon Police Lt. Doug Loudin told council members that the BPD has been in communication with several police departments in surrounding counties, including Randolph and Harrison counties, to prepare mutual aid agreements.

“These are for when we need assistance or when other departments need assistance,” Loudin explained. “Tonight, we have presented the mutual aid agreement with the Weston Police Department. Especially in light of the WAMSB (World Association of Marching Show Bands championship) event coming up next year, we definitely are going to need the resources to help with that event as well as any other events that come forward.”

Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders said he feels the mutual aid agreement is important.

“I know we are reaching out to Weston because they are a gateway community as people take the exit to head to Buckhannon,” Sanders said. “I am all in favor of this.”

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner explained the motion would be to authorize him and Buckhannon City Chief of Police Matthew Gregory to sign the mutual aid agreement.

Councilman Dave Thomas asked how many other municipalities the City of Buckhannon will end up partnering with via these agreements, and Loudin said the BPD will sign agreements with law enforcement agencies in Weston, Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Philippi and Elkins.

The motion to approve and authorize the signatures was unanimous.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Pamela Bucklew shared ideas she had for decorating Jawbone Park for the Christmas Holiday Season. Bucklew said she would like to put a few decorations down at Jawbone Park and host a tree-lighting ceremony annually.

“This is really in the early stages, but I would like to yearly put up our own decorations such as a Christmas Tree where we can have a light-up-the-tree ceremony,” Bucklew said. “I would estimate [it would cost] about $3,000 to $4,000 for decorations, including greenery and flags.”

Bucklew said the evergreen tree at Stockert Youth and Community Center is getting very large, and she’s been thinking it would be nice to cut that tree down and use it in Jawbone as the city’s first official Christmas Tree.

“I would like to see us have a real tree at Jawbone Park every year,” she said. “I would like to use that tree for the first year and we can replace the tree by planting a new one at Stockert because that one is getting too big.”

There was some discussion about the possibility of planting a real tree down at Jawbone Park to use over and over each year, but Skinner said that had been tried before and that the climate at Jawbone Park is not compatible with planting a pine tree.

City Public Works Director Jerry Arnold reminded everyone that pine trees have shallow roots, saying that when they get too large, there is a danger of them coming down during a storm.

“All trees have a life expectancy, especially those in town,” Arnold said.

Skinner asked Bucklew to organize a committee that could coordinate the effort; he asked that the concept of decorating Jawbone Park be put on the agenda for the first meeting in November, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3.

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