UPDATE: Pratt Mayor to Remain in Office, Makes Promise to People

By: Rahel Solomon, Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Rahel Solomon, Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email
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UPDATE 9/30/13 @ 10 p.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ ) -- During an emergency meeting Monday night, council members in Pratt agreed Mayor Gary Fields should resign.

The unanimous decision comes weeks after Fields was charged with a misdemeanor drug possession charge. Police say they found prescription pills that did not belong to Fields when they pulled him over in a county-owned car on Aug. 29.

“With that happening, I've learned a lesson: it's one that won't happen again. I can promise the people that. It won't happen again,” Fields told WSAZ.com Monday night after he refused to step down.

Rather than resign, Fields told council members and neighbors at the meeting that if he ever does anything to embarrass Pratt in the future, he will voluntarily step down.

Residents asked Fields to repeat that claim during the meeting.

“They need to clean their acts up, be honest,” said neighbor Keroy Moles. “Stand up for these people.”

UPDATE 9/30/13 @ 10 p.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The mayor of Pratt will remain in office, despite recent drug allegations.

Pratt Town Council held an emergency meeting Monday night after Mayor Gary Fields was arrested and charged with simple possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor charge.

Fields admits to having the drugs in his car when he was pulled over last month, but says they belonged to his wife.

Council members voted unanimously for Fields' resignations, but he refused.

Fields promised council members that if there were anymore problems from him, he would resign on his own.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 9/18/13 @ 9:05 p.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Pratt Mayor Gary Fields has been charged with misdemeanor drug possession, West Virginia State Police say.

Troopers say on Aug. 29, Fields ran off the edge of Paint Creek Road. Troopers stopped him and found four Roxicodone pills on him that didn't belong to him.

State Police say this happened in a city car.

Town Council took away Fields' privileges to the car last week.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 9/11/13 @ 6:45 p.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Mayor Gary Fields' city-owned vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, is now off the road and parked across the street from Pratt Town Hall.

"About time," one woman who lives in Pratt told WSAZ.com. "It's about time the city does something like that."

The woman didn't want to give her name, but she said she's sick of seeing city cars driving all over the county and outside of city limits for personal use. As a taxpayer, she said she thinks the city has too many vehicles for its size.

"I think if they wouldn't just drive around for their own personal needs, they wouldn't have this much problem," the woman said. "They should not have no need to go out of town for nothing."

When Town Council members met Tuesday night, they decided to take the mayor's car back, saying it was to cut costs. Council members noted that there are several city vehicles and not all of them run properly.

"It needs to be re-addressed to see where we can trim-line our policy to make it more economical," Kaye Ford, a city council member, said. "We decided that it was best that the mayor not drive the vehicle at his pleasure, wherever, with whomever. That he gets paid by the mileage where he goes and present that accordingly to the town council."

But WSAZ.com learned this is about more than money.

West Virginia State Police said they are investigating after the mayor was pulled over on Aug. 29 on Paint Creek Road after driving off the edge of the road. As a result of what happened during that traffic stop, police say they are digging deeper and have been in touch with a prosecutor. No charges have been filed at this point.

"The issue here is whether or not a public conveyance was misused. Either it was or it wasn't. That's up for the town to figure out," Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, said.

Carper said the county has donated at least two of the city's current vehicles -- used or gently used by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department or other county agencies.

"Sheriff's department puts quite a bit of miles on them. The small towns don't, so many times the used vehicle, gently used, works out well," Carper said.

But there are clear county and state policies defining how those vehicles can be used.

"You can't take your children to school. You can't take it for excessive or more than rare personal use," Carper said. "Are you doing something to promote legitimate business? We have a county policy on that and while we don't apply that to a donated vehicle, there are clear state ethics rules that prescribe what vehicles are to be used for."

The commission planned to discuss transferring another car to the town of Pratt for the police chief. However, now that the mayor's car has been taken away, and with a state police investigation in the works, the county is putting the brakes on its plans.

"I've already directed staff to check with the sheriff's department, and we'll also talk with council to see whether or not they actually need another vehicle, since apparently they have an extra one right now," Carper said.

The talk could take yet another turn when the police investigation is complete.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 9/11/13 @ 11:15 a.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia State Police have launched an investigation after Pratt Mayor's city-owned vehicle went off the edge of a road last month.

The incident happened on Paint Creek Road on August 29.

Sgt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police tells WSAZ.com that Gary Fields was pulled over and "certain indicators" during that traffic stop led to a further investigation. That investigation continues.

State Police have been in touch with the prosecutor about any action that needs to be taken according to Sgt. Baylous. However, at this point no charges have been filed.

On Tuesday night, Pratt Town Council members met in a closed-door session and decided to take Fields' car away, saying it was a way to cut costs for the cash-strapped town.

Council members also discussed during Tuesday's council meeting that thousands of dollars were missing from the town's accounts. They said they plan to revisit the issue at the next meeting.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY 9/10/13 @ 11:10 p.m.
PRATT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Pratt Mayor Gary Fields' city car was taken away after a heated exchange Tuesday night at a Town Council meeting.

Council members met in executive session and decided to take the car away, saying it was necessary to cut costs.

The town is cash strapped, and council members also said there are thousands of dollars missing from the town's accounts.

Council members say they plan to bring up the subject again at the next meeting.

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