MORGANTOWN, W.Va. During a special meeting on Tuesday, Morgantown City Council made decisions on the replacement of Jonathan Board as Region 4 Representative to the West Virginia First Foundation and added public safety to their list of federal grant requests.

The West Virginia First Foundation, tasked with distributing hundreds of millions in opioid settlement money, has an 11-member board. The Region 4 seat was vacated with the promotion of Jonathan Board from region director to executive director of the foundation.

Now, all 13 counties and 63 municipalities in the region will have the opportunity to nominate and vote for the next representative at a meeting on May 9 in the Monongalia County Commission Chambers.

Morgantown City Council voted to nominate Jon Dower and send Deputy Mayor Joe Abu Ghannam to the meeting to deliver it.

Dower is a Morgantown native and a WVU graduate with a master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. He is also a certified alcohol and drug counselor, intervention professional, substance abuse professional, and clinical supervisor. He is currently the Executive Director for West Virginia Sober Living and the Director of Recovery Services for Ascension Recovery Services. He is also an adjunct professor at WVU in the College of Applied Human Sciences.

“This is likely my legacy,” Dower said. “I grew up in Morgantown, had substance abuse disorder in Morgantown, and turned my life around in Morgantown,” Dower said. “I’ve done a lot of work in our region of the state and statewide.”

The last selection process that produced the board consisted of six nominees from 28 of the 76 municipal organizations. Dower finished second to the Board in that process.

If elected to represent Region 4, Dower said input from elected leaders, law enforcement, education leaders, and especially parents will be important.

“Every place in West Virginia is unique and different,” Dower said. “What might work in Morgantown may not work in Elkins or some other place that has different needs when it comes to resources.”

Councilors also agreed to start the grant-writing process for more police cruisers this year. The plans are to pursue a Congressionally Directed Spending Grant through the office of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R, for $1.5 million to purchase 20 cars for the police department.

After being asked by Fifth Ward Councilor Danielle Trumble about supply chain issues, City Manager Kim Haws provided his best forecast after moving from a lease agreement to one with national affiliates that have contacts that can fill the order.

“This would not be through the lease/purchase program, so you all know what the supply and demand for new vehicles are; it’s kind of a crap shoot at this point,” Haws said.

The city had previously authorized the grant process for $45.5 million. That list includes $30 million for the Morgantown Municipal Airport Runway Extension, $4 million for the new Morgantown Fire Department Station 1, $4 million for a pedestrian bridge connecting White Park and the riverfront, and other requests for streetscapes, trail projects, and two emergency generators.