WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron will be back on the job soon.
Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, Vice Mayor and Councilman Chad Thalman, as well as councilmen Ken Imer, Dave Palmer and Ty Thorngate voted in favor of the motion to reinstate Herron.
Councilwomen Wendy Scatterday and Melinda Koslik voted against the motion.
Thalman told MetroNews this was one of the most difficult decisions the current council has faced.
“I took a step back and said what kind of city do we want to be,” he said. “Do we want to be a compassionate city that works with somebody who admits they have an alcohol problem, or do we want to be a city who fires somebody who has a dependency on alcohol?
“It’s unfortunate that it took a DUI for Mr. Herron to realize he had a problem. We think he has taken the steps to address his alcohol problem and we feel comfortable moving forward with him. Make no mistake, this was a difficult decision.”
According to Thalman, Herron has successfully completed inpatient treatment for alcoholism and is working on outpatient treatment including attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Included in the deal of reinstatement, Herron will have to meet several provisions including no more access to a city vehicle, random alcohol testing by a third party, payment of damages from the accident in March, and must hire an assistant city manager within 45 days.
Thalman expects Herron to sign a “Last Chance Agreement” to meet those conditions and get back to work late this week or early next week. Herron apologized to city council on Tuesday.
On Monday, Herron pled guilty to DUI in Ohio County Magistrate Court and was sentenced to 104 hours of community service and will drive on an interlock license for the next 10 months.
As part of Herron’s plea, he will enter into a West Virginia’s driver’s safety program.
On March 9, when he was taken into custody after the accident in downtown Wheeling, he had a reported blood alcohol level of 0.305 percent, nearly four times the legal limit in West Virginia.
Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms had been performing the duties as city manager since Herron’s suspension.
Herron has been a city manager for over 30 years with 17 of those in Wheeling. Thalman said he looks forward to having him back on the job.
“I would say there is a lot in Wheeling going on right now,” Thalman said. “There is a lot of development projects that are taking place. His expertise is certainly needed on those projects.
“So while this was controversial, I am looking forward to him getting back to work and help move the city of Wheeling forward and help to get these projects completed.”