Highland Supervisors January Work Session

Energy matters were once again discussed at the Highland Board of Supervisors January work session, but this time it did not involve natural gas or pipelines.

Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, which provides power for many county residents, would like to improve their substation located west of Monterey. This would be done by adding diesel generators which could be used in times when issues arise from the lines bringing electricity in from West Virginia. Shen Valley is currently in negotiations to purchase property adjacent to the substation for this purpose. However, county attorney and zoning administrator Melissa Dowd discovered through research that public utility stations and transmission lines were not allowed via conditional use permit in A-2 districts, which this property is classified as. Ms. Dowd recommended that the board set a joint public hearing date with the Highland Planning Commission to amend the zoning ordnance to reflect conditional use permission for these purposes. Simultaneously at this meeting, Shen Valleys 2232 review, which assures this meets the county’s comprehensive plan, and the company’s conditional use permit application could be reviewed. The Board voted unanimously to set the hearing date for February 12th, pending the Planning Commission’s approval.

The Board heard a presentation from Tourism Council head Donna Bedwell on the past year’s progress. Ms. Bedwell reported a total of $3,339 had been collected via the Transient Occupancy Tax. She also reported that the Council had received a year end donation of $25,000 from an anonymous source in the recognition of the importance of tourism to the county. Ms Bedwell also reported the council’s work on area branding efforts. The slogan “Find Your Sweet Spot in Highland County” has been chosen to promote the various tourism opportunities the county has to offer. This will be implemented at various online locales, as well as in promotional literature. She also premiered a promotional video featuring local residents, many of whom were in attendance to watch. Finally, she reported Linda Holman has agreed to a re-appointment to the council, which the Board approved.They  also accepted the appointment of Sarah Collins to the EDA to fill an unexpired term.

Turning to financial matters, the Board approved a request from EMS Coordinator Chris Vernovai to purchase a specially equipped quick response vehicle for his use. Mr Vernovai reported that he had procured a grant which would pay 80% of the cost of purchase, pending the Board’s approval for the remainder. The vehicle as equipped costs over $100,000, and the county’s cost will be $16,000. The Board also approved a new contract with Robinson, Farmer and Cox, to prepare the county’s Cost Allocation Program, which can recover indirect costs via Federal grants and programs. Last year, this amounted to over $100,000.

The meeting ended with a closed session to discuss prospective business and contract.


Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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