County Commissioners Intend to Move Forward with Building a New Courthouse Annex
Buried deep on the Pocahontas County Commission’s July 20th meeting agenda was a “general discussion” on the proposed new courthouse annex, yet it turned out to be an important insight about the commissioners’ intention to move forward soon with this project. They will start this project by holding an initial meeting about it at their August 17th regular Commission Meeting.
Commission President Walt Helmick said they have tentatively identified a site for the new annex, and will divulge that location at the August 17th meeting. He also said he wants to have all elected officials present at that meeting as well as representatives of the agencies now located in the courthouse basement who will likely be affected by this. At that meeting they will further discuss the annex project; explain how they intend to fund the project; consider putting out a bid for an architect; and will likely agree to apply for a one-hundred-thousand-dollar ($100.000) grant from the Courthouse Facility Improvement Authority to get the project moving forward.
They also handled some broadband grant matters: They approved Thompson & Litton (T&L) to use the remaining Broadband Study Grant funds of $55,333.50 to assist the Broadband Council in moving forward with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) broadband grant application; and they selected T&L to be the consultant for the ARC broadband project.
The commissioners talked with Mr. Hunter from Frontier about purchasing a maintenance and service plan for the courthouse telephone systems. Hunter explained that contracts could be for one year or up to five years in length with discounts for longer term contracts. They decided to table any decision on this until their August 3rd meeting. However, Commissioner Rebinski asked Howard about why Frontier has not included residential listings in their most recent telephone books, only business numbers. Hunter promised to look into this and see if that could be changed. Later in the meeting, the commissioners also voted to send a letter to Frontier voicing their strong objection to Frontier leaving residential phone numbers out of their directories. In this letter, they explained to Frontier that without adequate cell service and broadband, Pocahontas County residents are very dependent on those phone books to look up numbers and addresses.
The Commissioners also heard from Jason Bauserman, President of the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative (UPCC,) who told them that there is a very good chance they have found a non-profit organization to rent out the second story of the former Howe Tannery Office Building in Frank. If this happens, he told the commissioners, UPCC would still like to open a Tannery Museum on the first floor.
In other actions at this meeting, the commissioners:
- Voted to remove and replace the Estate Representative for both the Wilma Wilson Estate and the Jane Pitzer Estate.
- Agreed to grant High Rocks an extension to purchase a new commercial dishwasher for their camp using funds the commission contributed to them last fiscal year.
- Approved the 911 Center to a Part-Time 911 dispatcher starting at $12.00 per hour.
- Approved a budget Revision and Resolution for the general fund and the Coal Severance fund – which were about three -hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000.)
- Re-appointed Denise McNeel to a five-year term on the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Centers Board.
- Issued an updated resolution supporting Fire Department and Rescue Squad Funding.
- Issued a resolution supporting a “special Use Permit” from the U.S. Forest Service to allow the 911 Center to improve the road through the National Forest to the Spruce Flats Emergency Communication Tower.
- And, in a final action, discussed in Executive Session a settlement recommended by their insurance company to settle a lawsuit against the county. Then, in open session, they approved that proposed settlement.