Pocahontas Co. Commission Reconsiders Coordinator’s Contract

At their July 5th meeting, the Pocahontas County Commission held a discussion of whether to continue their contract with Grazia Apolinares to serve as the County Water Task Force Coordinator.  At their last meeting, the Commissioners had approved an extension of Grazia’s contract for the next fiscal year, however at that time they did not know that Grazia had recently moved outside of Pocahontas County.

Beth Little and Margret Worth, both members of the County Water Task Force Steering Committee – a Board which is charged with overseeing the Task Force – spoke out positively about the work Grazia has and, despite having moved out of the County, continues to do. They both said that the Steering Committee was aware of Grazia’s move and had no problem with it. Several Commissioners, however, expressed concerns about Grazia’s move. Commissioner McLaughlin said he prefers that the Water Task Force Coordinator be a County resident. Commission President Beard agreed with that, while Commissioner Jamie Walker said that when they first established the position, they sought out candidates who resided in Pocahontas County since they would be familiar with the various waterways and watersheds in the County. Grazia pointed out that after serving as the Coordinator for several years, she already has that familiarity. The Commissioners were concerned about her 2 hour commute, and Grazia responded that she stays overnight in the County quite often. She also reassured the Commissioners that when she bills for travel mileage she uses Marlinton as her starting point, not her out-of-County home.

The Commissioner McLaughlin was concerned that the Steering Committee has not been doing its job of supervising the Task force’s activities and projects, since he is the designated Commission Representative and has never been informed of any upcoming Steering Committee meetings. Beth Little and Grazia both said there was a meeting last February, and they did not know McLaughlin was supposed to be on the Committee. The Commissioners pointed out that Commission member appointments to all the various Boards and Committees are a matter of public record.

After a lengthy discussion in which Grazia assured the Commission that she had a business license and that the contract does not specify that she be a Pocahontas County Resident, the Commissioners did not take any action to void her contract. They directed her to submit a bi-weekly activities report, provide the Commission with a copy of her business license and alter the way she has been submitting her payroll time. The Commissioners’ also told the Steering Committee they should meet at least quarterly and inform Commissioner McLaughlin of these scheduled meetings.

In other actions, the Commission appointed Damon Brock to a three year term as the Law Enforcement Representative, and Ron Fleming to the remaining 2 years of an open slot as the Physician’s Representative to the County Emergency Medical Services Board.

There were two applicants for one open position on the County Public Service District Board. They found that both applicants, George Murphy and Dave Gandee, to be highly recommended and qualified. They selected Gandee since he lives in Linwood, an area in need of representation on the PSD Board. This is a 6 year appointment.

The Commissioners also sought to fill two four year positions on the Farmland Protection Board. As recommended by the Farmland Protection Board, Kristen Kinnison was appointed to the Board as the Farm Bureau Member and Stella Callison as the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District member. A State Ethics Commission opinion had been sought on Callison’s appointment since her sister, Pam Friel, is the paid Secretary of the Farmland Protection Board. It was agreed that the appointment is OK provided Callison excuse herself from all discussions and votes on payroll issues that could involve her sister.

The Commission approved a Budget Revision and Resolution involving receipt of an extra $19,701 from the Coal Severance Tax above the amount that had been estimated when the Commissioners prepared the 2016-2017 County Budget.

Since Commission Attorney Bob Martin was not present to deliver his report, the meeting ended with payment of invoices.

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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