County Commission to Request Removal of County Jail from Historic Registry

At their January 4th regular meeting, the County Commissioners voted to write a letter to the State Historical Preservation Office requesting the removal of the County Jail Building from the National Registry of Historic Places. At an earlier meeting in the fall, representatives from that office had advised the commissioners that writing that letter would be the first step in the process to have the building removed from that registry. The commissioners want to demolish the jail building in order to replace it with a new courthouse annex building on the same site. It was explained that they can demolish it without removing it from the registry, but if they do, no federal funds can be used to demolish it, or to build or equip the new courthouse annex. During the current meeting, Helmick said that if they are not successful in removing the jail from the registry, they will have to build the new annex using all local funds.

The commissioners also re-elected Walt Helmick as Commission President for 2022 and retained the same county commission board appointments as they had in 2021.

They read a notice from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission containing the final supplemental impact statement for then Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), concerning the restoration projects that the ACP is required to do to stabilize the lands affected by the APC’s previous pipeline construction efforts in West Virginia. They include:

  • Leaving all of the already installed pipeline in place (31.4 miles.)
  • Restore all lands cleared and graded (82.7 miles.)
  • Leave felled trees in place where they have not yet been cleared (25.2 miles.)

They also provided a copy of a letter to all county commissions in WV from the Kanawha County Commission suggesting they all oppose the Property Tax Modernization Amendment to the WV constitution, which will be on the 2022 General Election ballot for ratification. The letter says if passed, it would eliminate the personal property tax on equipment, inventory and motor vehicles. The letter said this would eliminate a major funding tool for county governments, municipalities and boards of education without offering any plans on how to implement this change, or any guaranteed revenue replacement source for local governments. Commissioner Rebinski is very concerned over the impact here if this amendment passes and wanted to let the public know the negative local ramifications if it does. It should be noted in our story about the December 21st Commission meeting, we initially referred to the personal property tax incorrectly as being the “personal income tax,” although this was subsequently corrected on our website.

The commissioners heard from Mark Smith and Dave Dragan of the Public Service District (PSD) who talked about the Thornwood water project. Smith said they expect to receive two-million dollars from a Small Cities Community Block Grant to build a waterline from Bartow to Thornwood, to include the 4H Camp and Hidden Meadows Camp. He said until this is built, they will need a water tank truck to keep those camps supplied with potable water during the summer. Mike O’Brien said he can request a water truck from the state, but there are a lot of expensive regulations required for stored drinking water, such as frequent water changes and testing.

Smith said they may need an additional $150,000 from the county and or the Durbin American Rescue Plan funds and the $50,000 that the county was granted by the state over twenty years ago to build a water well at Thornwood which was never built. The commissioners said they would have to see what happened with that money and if it is still available.

Smith said they have already funded the Frank –Bartow sewer line with construction beginning on that in April. He also said they need $201,516.00 in ARP funds to replace the outdated control panel, instruments and 14 valves in the Durban water plant.

Additionally, despite Johnny Dean’s suggestion that they continue the trial period of allowing Fire/EMS Incident Commanders call for rotational list tows at accident scenes in addition to law enforcement officers until June, the commissioners agreed to place the first reading of amending the county towing ordinance adding that provision on the January 18th meeting agenda. The procedure has been allowed for a trial period since last spring, and even Dean said there has been no problems seen. Dean wanted to see how well it worked in the winter before amending the ordinance to allow it permanently.

Cree Lahti, Director of the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Centers gave an update. She said the libraries are now fully operational with no COVID restrictions, and the WV Library Commission has increased the available speeds on the library proprietary broadband network so now the speeds in the county libraries internet devices has increased from 1 mg per second to 300 mg per second.

Additionally, the commissioners:

  • Agreed to allow the MTA to park buses at the former Hanover Shoe building parking lot.
  • Agreed to have the 911 Center pick up half of the $42,345.00 cost of the Aerial Imagery for the county, with the County Assessor picking up the other half. Commissioner Rebinski included in this motion that in future years money be budgeted for this expense and the 911 Center’s share be reduced.
  • Scheduled the 2022 Board of Review and Equalization Hearing dates as follows:
    1. February 1; at 10 am
    2. February 4; at 10 am
    3. February 8; at 10 am
    4. February 11 at 10 am
    5. February 15th at 5:45 pm followed by adjournment.

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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