Pocahontas Commission approves new animal shelter plan

Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County animal shelter is moving back to Marlinton. For the past year, the shelter has been located at a remote site on Back Mountain Road above Durbin. Animal welfare proponents have criticized the lack of access to and oversight of the out-of-the-way shelter. During Tuesday morning’s county commission meeting, Sheriff David Jonese proposed moving the shelter back to the county seat, where it will be more accessible to animal control personnel, volunteers, day report workers and visitors seeking to adopt a pet.

Under the Sheriff’s plan, the shelter will be located in the county-owned ARC Building. The county will pay $12,000 to the building lessors for annual utilities and Sheriff’s Department personnel will manage the shelter. Jonese said the Community Corrections agency would provide additional labor. The Sheriff’s Department will invoice the commission for shelter operation costs, with a limit of $3,000 per month.

In January 2010, the commission spent $26,000 for improvements to the ARC Building for use as an animal shelter. In June of last year, the commission, citing financial considerations, voted to move the shelter to the outdoor location on Back Mountain Road.

Commission president David Fleming says the central location and better facilities at the ARC Building were major factors in his decision.

“I’m interested in what the Sheriff is saying because it represents improvements, in terms of the facility and the location,” he said. “And, it’s a step in the direction of having a county-owned shelter.”

The commission voted 2-1 to approve the Sheriff’s plan. Commissioner Martin Saffer supported keeping the shelter on Back Mountain Road. The commission took no action on a $45,500 bid from the operator of the Back Mountain Road shelter and a $74,000 bid from the ARC Building lessors.

Last year, the commission contributed $5,000 for construction of concrete pads at Mallow’s private shelter. On Tuesday, Saffer and Fleming agreed to donate an additional $5,000 worth of county-owned equipment to Mallow. Fleming said the county would retain ownership of the cages and other equipment, but that it would remain at Mallow’s shelter “in perpetuity.”

During the community corrections update, day report officer Chuck Alexander said felony charges had been dropped in 43 cases, resulting in lower numbers assigned to day report. Circuit Court Clerk Connie Carr said many cases had been dropped because three terms of court – equaling a year – had passed without indictments.
Members of the public asked the commission why so many cases had been dropped. Saffer responds that the county commission does not control the prosecutor’s office.

“If a member of the public has a question, you should go to the office of the prosecuting attorney and ask why, in the period of a year, which would be three terms of court, a matter which was bound over for presentation to the grand jury was never presented,” he said.

“I don’t have any control over the court, I’m a county commissioner,” Saffer added.

“You had an election, a little bit ago, and you all voted as you voted and there you have it,” he continued.

Following the commission meeting, Prosecuting Attorney Donna Meadows-Price said at least some of those cases were not prosecuted, due to the involvement of former sheriff’s deputy Brad Totten, who is under indictment for 12 felonies.

“Without seeing the list and knowing exactly what cases, I can’t answer all of them,” she said. “Some of them were not indictable, as the officer involved is currently under indictment himself. Therefore, I did not pursue those matters. In others, if the case was not complete or not presentable, then I choose to not present them.”

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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