Dunbar residents, officials raise concerns about gun legislation

By Gracie Ferretti
DUNBAR, W.Va. -- Members of the Dunbar community are concerned that current gun legislation in the Legislature will affect their ability to make decisions on a local level. "The people of Dunbar have the right to make decisions about our people," said Mayor Jack Yeager on Monday.A bill to nullify all city and county firearms ordinances (HB2760) swept through the House on a 94-4 vote last week. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would overturn a ban on guns inside government buildings in Dunbar, South Charleston and Martinsburg.It would also overturn a 20-year-old Charleston ordinance aimed at ending the drugs-for-handguns trade by limiting sales to one handgun a month after a three-day waiting period.Yeager said last week that the City Council passed a ban on guns inside Dunbar City Hall and other municipal buildings "years and years ago."Dunbar residents, he said, pressed the issue because they wanted to feel safe while going about government-related business. The pending legislation would undermine what the people wanted, he said."There is no government body closer to the people than the city council," Yeager said last week. "Local people have a right to decide local decisions."
Also, Police Chief Earl Whittington announced the dates for Neighborhood Watch meetings. Ward 1's meeting will be April 13 at 3 p.m.; Ward 2, April 6 at 3 p.m.; Ward 3, March 23 at 3 p.m.; Ward 4, March 30 at 3 p.m. All meetings will take place at city hall."It takes all of us to do what we do," Whittington said.Also, Yeager announced that Kroger hopes to break ground in mid-May on a gas filling station at the Dunbar store, based on information Yeager received from a building inspector. "We are willing to do anything we can to help," said Yeager.Dunbar is currently hiring staff for lifeguards, concession stands and swimming instructors to work at Shawnee Park this summer. Recreation consultant Aaron Settle said there will be swimming lessons, water aerobics and other fitness classes offered. The opening date of the park has not been announced.Also, council members discussed the Dunbar Bridge, which is currently undergoing a state inspection and could cause some traffic delays, particularly with the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge's closure between Nitro and St. Albans.   Dunbar Public Works Director Terry Greenlee said that the state inspection caught city officials a bit off guard and that motorists should expect more delays than usual. The state inspection is expected to be finished by March 30.   
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