Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 13, 2012

Ridgeley mayor won’t step down

RIDGELEY, W.Va. — Mayor Jim Twigg refused to step down despite the fact that citizens and council members are circulating a petition asking him to do so until the investigation of his alleged misuse of a government-issued credit card, also known as a purchase card, is completed by the state auditor’s fraud unit was complete.

Twigg indicated during the town meeting on Tuesday that he wouldn’t step down unless the state audit findings proved that he did something wrong.

“I will resign if the state says I have to or if in June if I lose (the election). There has been nothing proven. There are three ways I will leave here,” said Twigg, indicating that he would leave if, “the lord called him home.”

The auditor has been conducting work for about four days and the report should be finished in a week, according to Tom Hedrick, director of public works.

“You will have a report by the next meeting,” said Twigg.

Twigg’s resignation wasn’t discussed until resident Bill Hawse addressed it under the public question and comment portion of the meeting. Hawse questioned if Twigg had returned $407 to the town.

“Yes, I did,” said Twigg.

One resident asked if Police Chief Mike Miller was under investigation for misuse of the purchase card if he would still be employed.

“I’m not under criminal investigation,” said Twigg. “They came in and audited the whole card. You misunderstood the whole concept. The audit will be back in a week. Can’t you all keep your noose loose for that long?”

Councilwoman Tanya Ryan said, “According to the Sheriff’s Department, you are under an open investigation.”

“That audit was not just for Jim’s purchase card — it was for everyone’s purchase card,” said Hedrick.

Mineral County Sheriff Craig Fraley has made no indications that Twigg was being investigated.

“We were contacted by the auditor's office about questionable charges on the local government charge card,” Fraley has said. “We were asked to investigate the matter and request the fraud unit to come to Ridgeley to check the books.”

Hedrick questioned if a town employee would still have a job if they charged gas in a personal vehicle then paid the money back. Twigg indicated they would.

“Why are we allowed to use town money for personal use?” asked Ryan.

Ryan then asked if everyone would be made aware of the findings of the audit and questioned whether a special meeting would need to be called.

“That would be up to the council,” said Hedrick, who indicated the audit findings would be made public.

Ryan said that the petition that is currently being circulated will be submitted to the Mineral County Circuit Court.

“I am kind of overseeing this because I am the only one that is not intimidated by anyone or anything,” said Ryan. “I did not start the investigation, the questions or any of the following but I will see it through for the citizens of the town of Ridgeley.”

A resolution that requires town council members to seek approval for out of town travel to meetings and conferences will be drafted for the next town meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 27.  

“We had mentioned that due to the circumstances that we had to postpone any travel,” said Ryan. “It’s being brought up that there is a lot of expenses being put out during a year’s time for trainings, meetings and conferences.”

Councilman Lynn Carr indicated that he had been keeping track of the travel expenses since January and estimated that upward of $20,000 was spent in a year.

“I would love to see that on paper,” said Hedrick.

“We want to see that in writing,” added Twigg.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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