Pocahontas Co. Commissioner Walt Helmick Muses on the County’s Workforce Problem

In Part one of the story about the May 7th Pocahontas County Commission Meeting, we talked, about the County’s preparations for the 2020 U.S. Census, among other topics. Now here is the rest of what happened at the meeting.

The Commissioners also each presented their Commission Board Updates.

Helmick reported that the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation still has not found a tenant for the vacant industrial building in Edray. Helmick said the problem is Pocahontas County’s poor workforce. He said for example, Interstate Lumber still has 35 vacancies it cannot fill. Helmick said the workforce problem needs to be faced and addressed and seems to be caused by four things:

  1. An older population in the county
  2. A poor education system
  3. An unhealthy population
  4. And most of all, the Opioid Addiction problem

Commissioner Helmick also reported on the Hospital Board. He said the Hospital’s operations are now operating in the black, after being 1.1 to 1.2 million dollars in the red last year.

Commissioner Jesse Groseclose reported that the Senior Program seems to be operating well, especially since the Home Maker Program is now operating in the black.  He also said the Farmland Protection Board is running smoothly as is the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Commission President David McLaughlin reported that 911 Advisory Board has made a lot of progress in ensuring compliance with FCC Licensing.

The Commissioners considered contribution/funding requests from the following organizations:

  1. Alex Kinnison of the Pocahontas County Soccer League, asking for $1500 to build an equipment storage shed at the Green Bank soccer field and to help send the soccer team to a tournament in Richmond from May 31st to June 3rd. He said the team has raised most of the tournament cost themselves.
  2. PCHS Football Coach Doug Burns, representing the Pocahontas County High School Football Boosters requested the maximum amount of $5000 to replace the scoreboard at the PCHS athletic field, He said they would come up with the rest of the $10,000 needed for the new scoreboard by fundraising.

The Commissioners only had $5,734.64 left in their contributions budget, but decided to fully fund both of these requests, which total $6,500.00 and to move money from elsewhere in the budget during a budget resolution and revision at next meeting to make up the difference.

The Commissioners tabled consideration of accepting the WV Counties Risk Pool insurance coverage proposal until their next regular meeting, so that they can consider the appropriateness of the coverage amounts at a special meeting to be held on Friday, May 10th at 9:00 a.m.

In his Counsel’s report, Bob Martin said he still has not found out when and if the County will receive money from the supposedly resolved PELT money lawsuit. Martin also reported that 6 entry level Deputy Sheriff’s passed the written exam, as did the applicants for the Corporal and Sergeant’s exam.

The Commissioners ended the meeting with the approval 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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