Concerns Expressed about the Condition of U.S. 219 near Elk Mountain Road

At their September 6th meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners heard from Sam Gibson during their Hear Callers –or public input portion of the meeting. Gibson expressed his concerns about the a dangerous spot along U.S. 219 near Elk Mountain Road.  According to Gibson, half of the roadway of U.S. 219 is collapsing off the mountain and there is no guard rail left to prevent a vehicle from falling off the mountain.  Gibson recognized that the Commission has no direct responsibility or control over this, but urged the Commissioners to contact the State Highway Administration (SHA) and urge them to make the repairs. Gibson also urged citizens to contact State highways about this potentially dangerous problem.

Gibson pointed out that as the County’s elected representatives, the Commissioners do have a vested interest in having the SHA quickly make these repairs to the roadway, especially since U.S. 219 is Pocahontas County’s “greatest industrial asset”. Commissioner McLaughlin said all they can do is to let the SHA engineers know the urgency of the problem. Emergency Services Director Mike O’Brien, who was present at the meeting, added that he has already spoken to the SHA engineers about this and they told him they are still looking for a solution. Meanwhile, a word to the wise, use caution when driving that portion of U.S. 219.

In other actions, the Commissioners approved the creation of a new full-time dispatcher position at the 911 Center and hiring Jonathan Moore as that new Dispatcher at $10.00 per hour plus benefits. This was done after 911 Director Mike O’Brien said the position was desperately needed because overtime expenses are getting out of hand trying to maintain mandated full coverage of dispatchers. O’Brien explained that he has reduced the budget this year by about $40,000 by cost reductions, especially by reducing the cost of radio maintenance. O’Brien added that the County has the second lowest 911 fee in the State, and consideration should be given to increasing that fee.

Cara Rose, Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau or PCCVB, delivered the Bureau’s Annual Report to the Commission. The most significant item in the report was that the 2015-16 Hotel/Motel tax saw a decline of nearly 22% over the previous year.  This was due to the warm weather at the end of 2015 which held business down at Snowshoe area resorts. The report added that the winter ski and snow sport season accounts for about 85% of the Hotel/Motel Tax. Despite this, the PCCVB has continued its efforts to promote tourism in the County, making up for a drop in its funding for advertising by increasing its efforts on less costly social media to promote the County as a destination for vacationers.

The Commissioners once again gave the Chamber of Commerce permission to use portions of the Former Shoe Factory for its annual Haunted House.

They also approved the enlargement of the County’s Public Service District to include Snowshoe and Silver Creek resort areas. The Commission held a public hearing on this on August 30th, and only supporters showed up. This still has to be approved by the State Public Service Commission after they also hold public meetings on it.

The Commissioners appointed Sharon Moore to a six year term on the Pocahontas Memorial hospital Board of Trustees.

They approved a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding for the National Dislocated Worker Grant dealing with 2016 severe storms and flooding.

They approved 2 Budget Resolutions dealing with a Federal Grant for Camp Bartow and a State Grant from the West Virginia Homeland Security Local Management Planning Committee.

There was no Report from the Commission’s Counsel since Bob Martin was attending another meeting.

In a final action, the Commissioners approved payment of invoices.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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