Historic Registry Status of Jail Building Complicates New Courthouse Annex Project

The Pocahontas County Commissioners have been seriously considering building a new courthouse annex on the site now occupied by the jail building.  During the Mail Item portion of the August 3rd Commission meeting, a letter was read from Benjamin M. Riggle, Structural Historian of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. In it, Riggle wrote that he and Susan Price of that agency met with County Commission President Walt Helmick and discussed the effect on the Annex project of having the jail listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Riggle said the County Jail/Jailer’s Residence has been listed in the National Register since 1994, and the jail building does not appear to qualify for any of the four reasons listed in the Federal statute to be de-listed from the National Register, making delisting in his opinion impractical. Because the jail is listed, the use of any federal funding to build the Annex on that site would be problematic. Riggle suggested the commissioners consider alternatives to expanding the courthouse. Helmick said Susan Pierce is willing to come to a future meeting to further discuss this. The commissioners still feel the jail site is the ideal location for the new annex building.

During Hear Callers, Cara Rose talked about the public premiere of the eight Bicentennial Trout statues from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on August 21st at Discovery junction in Marlinton.

The commissioners also voted a signature resolution in favor of the NTIA broadband grant application.

They also authorized a request for proposals to find an engineering company to study the present county-owned water and sewer systems that service PMH, Marlinton Middle School and the State Police Barracks. The engineering firm will determine if those systems will accommodate new expansions on the hill there. If the determination is made that they won’t, the firm will examine alternatives, such as expanding Marlinton water and sewer to the site or having the PSD build systems there.

The commissioners discussed the effect of a new WV statute which allows the county to take control of burned buildings that the owners received insurance pay-offs from then abandoned. Helmick said this could work well with his proposed demolition site at the East Fork Industrial Park, which is now just waiting for Department of Environmental Protection approval.

Commissioner Rebinski discussed what he learned while attending the Commissioner’s Conference in Canaan, including the Assessor’s Office advising the counties that American Rescue Plan funds can only be given to private groups if those groups have no alternative way to pay for their projects and audits on the use of PELT funds.

The commissioners heard from Mark Smith of the PSD and approved the application for a Small Cities Block Grant to extend a water system to the Thornwood area.

The commissioners also approved the following funding requests:

  1. Bryans Battery, Inc; $750.00 to help fund the Droop Mountain Civil War Reenactment on the second weekend in October.
  2. Pocahontas Prevention Coalition; $5000.00 to pay for a part-time position.
  3. The Tucker Community Foundation; $4000.00 for it’s “Run-For-It” fundraising event which raises money for area non-profit organizations in the county.

In other actions, the commissioners:

  • Appointed Josh Hardy to fill an unexpired term on the Libraries and Visitors’ Information Centers Board.
  • Appointed Jacqueline Hollandsworth to the Civil Service board
  • Authorized Mike O’Brien to purchase a new Unified Solution digital 911 recording system for the 911 Center at a cost of $22,925.00.
  • Approved the 911 Advisory Board’s By-Laws.
  • Discussed three alternative solutions to stabilize the bank of the East Fork of the Greenbrier River in Frank. A decision on this will be made at a future meeting.

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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