Ethics complaint against Sheriff dismissed, area resident shares concerns over Snowshoe RAD

At Tuesday morning’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, commission President David Fleming said commissioners received a response from the West Virginia Ethics Commission regarding a complaint filed against Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese.

“If you recall, that involved the security camera footage from the jail building,” Fleming says. “The letter says, this is dated April 30, 2014, ‘Dear Mr. Fleming, the Probable Cause Review Board has concluded its investigation. After reviewing the evidence, the review board dismissed the complaint you filed for lack of probable cause. I have enclosed the dismissal order for your review. Sincerely, Kimberley Weber, General Counsel.’”

Commission secretary Sue Helton told commissioners that one of our state-level elected officials is working to try to improve Internet service in the county. Helton said she’d received an e-mail from West Virginia Delegate Denise Campbell recently.

“Regarding a meeting with Frontier,” Helton told commissioners. “She said she was going to try to schedule a meeting with Frontier, and she said she would let us know.”

Helton said she has also been working with some folks in Charleston to get the Marlinton Depot restoration project finished up.

“What the Division of Highways has agreed to do is a supplemental payment, if the commission will meet the match,” she says.

“And what’s our match?” asks Fleming.

“The match is $4,472.00,” Helton says. “If we will agree to pay that match, then we can pay that contractor off and that will close out both grants, with everyone being paid.”

“The Highways Department is just going to give, if we give 20%, that’s $4,000, they’re going to give an additional $22,000?” Fleming asks.

“Right, they’re going to commit $22,359.00,” Helton tells Fleming.

County resident Matt Tate addressed commissioners at the meeting. Tate expressed unease over the new Snowshoe Resort Area District petition that was presented to commissioners earlier this year. He first thanked commissioners for their hard work.

“I also want to say that I don’t hate Snowshoe,” Tate says. “I believe Snowshoe is a great part of our community. They provide a lot of jobs for people in the community, as well as all the extra industries and businesses that rely on them. Snowshoe does help our community tremendously.”

Tate said initially he was unsure of what the RAD would allow, so he read the law himself, and he said he harbored some concerns.

“From what I can tell, the RAD makes Snowshoe a town – a quasi-governmental entity, whatever you want to call it,” he says. “But it seems like it’s going to be a town. It’s going to have a police force, a water system, almost what I’d consider a Parks and Rec., like recreational activities, and snow removal, roads, all the things that I think a town usually does, and it’ll be controlled by a board of seven members.”

Tate said he’s worried the RAD voting system for the board positions would be drastically different from traditional voting methods.

“From what I’ve read, the board there is elected by land owners,” says Tate. “So the RAD is an area, and anybody who owns land in that area gets to vote for who is on that board. And that’s pretty much what I have a problem with. Any other form of government that we have in the United States, its people who live in that area who get to vote for who is on whatever it is. Whether it be on the national, state or local level, it’s the people who live in that area, not the people who own land in the area.”

According to Tate, the restriction on voting to be a landowner was repealed in the United States in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson.

“He had a program he called ‘Elected by the Common Man,’ because I guess back then, not many folks owned land,” Tate says. “A lot of people didn’t get to vote. I think this is a giant step backwards. I think it could set a precedent for other places or other things in our county, where companies could own governments. And that seems a little questionable.”

Two public meetings will be held at the Pocahontas County Courthouse regarding the Snowshoe Resort Area District Petition. The first public meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m. The second meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 19, at 10:00 a.m. Anyone with questions, concerns or input is invited to attend.

Story By

Angelo Jiordano

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