Policy spells out role of Weirton port director

WEIRTON – A master policy spelling out the role and limits of their executive director was approved by the Weirton Area Port Authority board Wednesday.

The master policy for management and administrative authority covers everything from real property agreements, security and insurance and property transactions to authorization for expenditures, competitive bidding, banking and accounting services and sale of surplus property. It can be revised as needs arise, board members were told.

Interim Director Karl Keffer described the master policy, which was paired with an ethics statement, as a “guidebook (stipulating) what I can and can’t do as executive director.”

Board members also signed off on a resolution adopting “omnibus accounting practices” for the port’s public-private partnership.

Chairman B.J. DeFelice said the action stems from the Legislature’s 2012 passage of the Community Empowerment Transportation Act which, while geared toward highway infrastructure, nonetheless defines the need for public-private partnerships to fund development in West Virginia. It ensures WAPA, the Weirton Area Port Authority Inc., and Tri State Port Management adhere to the same generally accepted accounting principles followed by government, he said.

“Acceptable accounting practices, adherence with the W.Va. Sunshine Act and other similar regulatory control provides the necessary oversight ensuring the taxpayers’ funds are proper and necessary for the much needed public-benefit intermodal improvement projects,” he said in background information included with the resolution.

The board also approved Dolph Santorine as a member of the board. Santorine, a 35-year veteran of the business world, will serve a five-year term expiring in 2018.

DeFelice said the appointment gives the WAPA board six members, though there is currently a vacancy due to the resignation of Chuck Wright.

“We’ll go to seven” when Wright is replaced, he said, “and probably go to 11 eventually, like the state board.”

The port will host a Department of Homeland Security training course on small vessel security for rural communities from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 27.

DeFelice said the course is “one of the first … to be taught at the terminal” and called it a “big win for West Virginia.”

The course is being offered in conjunction with the University of Findlay, which will be taking input gleaned from the course back to DHS for evaluation.

It will focus on developing partnerships among those involved in major maritime incidents, promote regional intelligence-gathering, provide examples of best practices used in other parts of the U.S. and discuss existing cooperative maritime security initiatives. It’s geared to first responders and emergency planners along rural waterways; Coast Guard and marine law enforcement personnel, state boating law enforcement and conservation agencies; companies; and individuals located on or utilizing the waterways.

Deadline to register is June 13. A Federal Emergency Management Agency student identification number is required of those planning to attend.