County Commissioners Wrestle with High Electric Bills at ARC Building

During their April 5th regular meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners discussed with 911 Director Mike O’Brien their frustration with paying a $2,500.00 monthly electric bill at the ARC Building. That building houses the Day Report Center, the Animal Control and some local office space for the WV Department of Forestry. Only about 4,000 square feet in the building is now used, out of a total of the 40,000 square feet that comprises the entire building size.

O’Brien told them he has consulted with Mon Power, and has concluded that a lot of the problems causing such high energy use are caused by having a large commercial electrical system there. That system was designed to run a large factory. He said that electrical system includes three large, energy-draining commercial transformers. O’Brien said Mon Power informed him that if some or all of those transformers could be shut down, and if the lights that are now being used can be switched to LED lights, a large reduction in the monthly electric bill would result.

O/Brien said he recently found the third transformer, which only powers a furnace, and a commercial electrician could rewire that transformer so that it can be bypassed and turned off. He had earlier said that at least one of the two other transformers could possibly be similarly bypassed and turned off. To do this, he said will be expensive. O’Brien said fifty lights could be switched to LEDs by in-house personnel for the cost of the bulbs alone, which would be $1986.00. O’Brien added that the sprinkler system in that building also needs to be inspected, the fire alarm system needs to be replaced, and smoke alarms need to be installed in the building.

The commissioners decided to put off any action on this until their next meeting so they could examine all their options before making any decisions.

Additionally at the meeting, Cara Rose of the Convention and Visitors Bureau asked the commissioners to write a letter of support for the ARC Power Grant application for the Monday Lick Contemporary Trail System.  She said completing this new mountain biking trail will be a big step in the county upgrading it’s Silver International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center designation to the coveted Gold Ride Center designation. Rose said that would increase summer tourism to where it might actually rival the winter ski tourism which adds lots of money into the county’s economy.  She said the summer tourism increases could easily add 50% more revenue and the overall county economy.

Amanda Smarr of Region 4 asked the commissioners for a money draw from the Pocahontas County Broadband Project Study in the amount of $15,000. This money would come from the Broadband Study Grant, and would be used to pay for invoices from Thompson & Litton for work they have done for the project. A second draw from the Pocahontas County ARC Broadband Project was tabled to the next meeting because Smar said they are still waiting for some clarifications from the state. When this draw is approved, it will be for the beginning of construction for that project.

Based upon 911 Director Mike O’Brien’s request, the commissioners approved the proposed 911 communication tower project at Bartow. O’Brien explained that this new tower will fix serious communication problems first responders have when in the Bartow, Frank and Durbin areas of the county. He said the cost will be $279,000 which will pay for the tower, the building and radio equipment for the site, and some radio equipment for the Snowshoe tower as well. This money will come from 911 funds provided by the state to the 911 Center.

The commissioners also approved Assessor Johnney Pritt’s request to hire James Boggs as a part-time mapper at the Assessor’s Office. He is already doing this job, but the funding will be coming from a different source.

They authorized the American Lung Association to store bicycles overnight at the Former Shoe Factory Building on May 6th, which is during the Associations annual fundraising race on the Greenbrier River Trail.

Mark Smith from the PSD asked the commissioners to approve letters of support to both Senator Manchin and Senator Capito regarding financing the Thornwood Water Extension Project with earmark funds. The commissioners approved writing those letters.

They also heard from Lucy Mosesso and discussed the 4H Camp Water Project. Mosesso said the water tower at the camp needs to be replaced as well as the leaky water pipes there. She said they have been quoted a cost of $30,000 to replace the tower and another $30,000 to replace the pipes. Mark Smith said the PSD could place their new Thornwood Water Extension tower closer to the 4H camp which would provide Thornwood water to the camp, thus eliminating the need to replace the old water tower at the camp, however the pipes would still need to be replaced.

The commissioners also appointed Connie Horne to the North Central Community Action Board of Directors.

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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