Opioid Lawsuit Settlements with Several Companies Imminent

During the February 7th Pocahontas County Commission meeting, at the request of their lawyer, Stephen Skinner, the commissioners voted to sign releases for settling the county’s opioid lawsuit with several defendant companies. Commission President Walt Helmick explained that about 4 years ago, the county joined this nationwide class-action lawsuit against the companies responsible for the opioid overdose crisis both here, across the state, and across the nation. Although no proposed award amounts were announced at this meeting, Helmick declared that 100% of any monetary award the county receives from this lawsuit will be dedicated by the commission to battling the drug problem here.

There had also been a special commission meeting held on January 31st, during which there were no actions taken by the commissioners. The meeting instead featured representatives from the West Virginia Development Office reviewing the implementation forms required for two grants:

  1. The Thornwood Waterline Extension Project
  2. The Demolition Project to remove the former Board of Education Building in Marlinton.

The Development Office’s Project Managers for each of these grant projects reviewed each page of these implementation forms. Region 4 will actually handle completion of these forms, which include budget forms, project schedule forms, scope of work forms, procurement forms, labor forms, environmental forms, and project closeout forms.

Additionally at the regular session on February 7th, the commissioners approved draw request #7 in the amount or $3087.00 from the Broadband Study Grant. Amanda Smarr of Region 4 explained that the money from this draw will be used to pay 4 invoices from the Thompson & Litton Company which has been assisting the Pocahontas County Broadband Council in applying for broadband grants. Smarr said that $11,000 remain in the study grant award, which will be used to develop applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect Grants.

The commissioners also appointed Kristen Beverage and David Moore to the Dramas, Festivals and Fairs Board.

They granted three contribution requests:

  1. Francesca Zarcon requested, and received, a $5000.00 contribution for the Child and Youth Advocacy, Zarcon explained that they work with Child Protective Services and Law enforcement in conducting forensic interviews of children who are victims of child abuse and teaching children in the schools about reporting abuse.
  2. Tony Byrd of the Northern Pocahontas County Community Assistance, Inc. asked the commission for, and was granted, a $5000.00 contribution. Byrd explained that they help the Senior Citizen Program and with veteran’s meals.
  3. Bryn Kusic requested, and was granted $5000.00 to help make-up for diminished state financial support to pay performance fees at the Opera House.

There were also important discussions about prioritizing proposed commission projects, and about proposals for changes to the distribution of the Hotel Occupancy Tax during this meeting, and after the meeting during a work session. These will be discussed in part 2 of this story.

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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