TODAY'S NEWS

Meza tapped to fill vacancy on town council

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — The Town Council appointed a member of the town Planning Commission to fill a vacancy on the board.

Jacob Meza was named to fill the remainder of Daryl L. Funk's term on council. Funk stepped down Dec. 31 after being elected Warren County Circuit Court clerk.

The selection of Meza was not unanimous. Councilman Eugene Tewalt said there were other candidates who have lived here longer and were better qualified.

"We should give them the opportunity and not someone that's just moved here in the last several years," he said.

Meza, a corporate director for Valley Health System's Urgent Care centers, said he has lived in the area for a total of 10 years. He said he emphasized his background in business during his interview with council members.

"That's why Valley Health hired me," he said. "What I said to town council was that I'd love to take what I'm doing for Valley Health and see how I can apply that to the Town of Front Royal."

Meza said his skills could be useful in encouraging economic development.

He is married with four kids. In fact, his family inspired him to get involved with local government.

"I realized, with my kids, I'm probably going to be here for a while," he said. "And I want a place that my kids are going to love to grow up in."

Meza was one of 12 applicants for the position. Mayor Tim Darr has said the names of the applicants would not be made public.

Meza was not present at Mondayís meeting. He must be sworn in at the courthouse before he can serve, Darr said.

The vote was 3-2, with council members Bebhinn Egger, John Connolly and Bret W. Hrbek voting in favor. Tewalt and Vice Mayor Hollis Tharpe voted against the appointment. Tharpe said after the meeting that he'd be sorry to see Meza leave the planning commission.

Meza has not made a decision on whether he will leave the planning commission, which is not required. Instead, he said he'd wait and see how the workload is and make a decision based on that.

The term Meza will finish ends Dec. 31. His seat and those of Hrbek and Tewalt are up for grabs in the November election. Hrbek said earlier this month that he would not seek re-election.

Meza said he has not decided whether he would run for the seat in November, again saying he wanted to get to know the job better before making a decision.

In a related matter, council approved a motion to sell Funk the town iPad he used while he served on council at its fair market value of $320. A new one costs in excess of $500.

Resident Mike McCool spoke on the matter at the beginning of Monday's meeting, saying he appreciated Funk's work and understood that sometimes when people leave jobs, they are allowed to take certain items with them.

However, he noted that selling the iPad will bring in $320, after which the town will spend more than $500 to buy Meza an iPad.

"It just doesn't make good sense," McCool said. "Daryl's got himself a really good job. I think he can afford a new iPad."

The item had been on the councilís consent agenda — items the council usually approves without discussion. However, Connolly asked that it be pulled from the consent agenda so council could have a discussion on it.

"These things do depreciate at a very fast rate, in my experience," he said. "These are going into their third year. I do anticipate that as long as we're getting fair market value, this is not something wrong to taxpayers' public coffers."

No other council members spoke on the matter.


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