Highland EDA’s June Meeting

The Highland County EDA held its monthly meeting on June 20.

EDA Economic Development Officer Betty Mitchell discussed the possibility of renting office space for the EDA to share with the Blue Grass Resource Center.  The Recorder has purchased the Dancon building on Main Street in Monterey and plans to move it’s offices there.  The building has space for a separate office, with it’s own entrance and restroom.  The rent would be $400 a month including utilities, which would be $200 per organization.  Mitchell said she felt both organizations would benefit with having a public facing space.   Mitchell added that, in lieu of the space, she would give up the $40 she is paid monthly from the EDA budget for accounting work.  She also pointed out that the EDA has $8,800 in it’s  budget that has been carried over.   EDA Chair George Hogshead said he understood why the Blue Grass Resource Center would like to be located there during the Highland Inn renovation, but he said $200 a month would use almost all of the EDA’s annual operational budget of $2,500.  He said Mitchell typically spends ten hours a week on EDA work, so he could support a lesser amount, which would not take so much out of the budget and which would be more representative of her time on EDA work.  EDA member Patti Hrovat said that currently there are three grants being juggled, with Mitchell putting in a lot of extra time.  EDA member Bryan Obaugh said he was not in favor of a long-term rental and asked if there might be county space available.  EDA member Kirk Billingsley said the EDA should talk with the Board of Supervisors to be sure there isn’t other space available, possibly through the county, since taxpayer money funds the EDA. He also questioned the use of taxpayer funds for paying rent.  EDA member Jamie Collins agreed that for transparency, the EDA should talk with the Board of Supervisors.   The EDA voted to table action on this item, with member Patti Hrovat opposed.

The EDA currently has two open seats and members discussed the three applications it had received.  Applicants are Dail Fields, Dan Kauffman and Aaron Thaler.  Chair George Hogshead said he felt that any of the three would be a welcome addition.  He also noted that another applicant had bowed out, not wanting to complete the financial disclosure agreement.  Betty Mitchell said she had not heard back from two of the applicants regarding the disclosure agreement.  She planned to call them to be sure they were ok with it, before recommending any names to the Board of Supervisors, because the agreement has put off two people in the past. The EDA voted to recommend to the Board of Supervisors Aaron Thaler and Dan Kauffman for appointment, with Dail Fields to be recommended if one of the other applicants opted out due to the disclosure agreement.  According to follow up information from Betty Mitchell, Aaron Thaler and Dail Fields will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors for appointment.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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