Pocahontas commission considers funding requests

Marlinton, W.Va. –

During Tuesday morning’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Linwood resident Russell Holt wanted to speak to the commission about the Snowshoe sewage project. Commission president David Fleming tells Holt the matter is in the hands of the Public Service Commission.

“Mr. Holt, I think at this point, it’s best to let the Public Service Commission finish the process,” he said. “It’s premature to come to the county commission at this point without that process having been completed.”

“I have questions for the county commission,” said Holt.

“Not at this time,” replied Fleming.

“Then they’ll have to go in the newspaper,” said Holt. “I’ll write an open letter to the newspaper with the questions I have formulated to ask you about.”

“Mr. Holt – you are out of order.”

“I think you’re out of order.”

“Mr. Holt, we’re going to move to the next item now. Thank you for coming.”

“This is nothing but a dictatorship,” Holt said. “Nothing but a dictatorship.”

“Deputy, would you please escort Mr. Holt from the room?”

Representatives of community health, drug abuse prevention and domestic violence mitigation programs requested commission funding.

Commissioner Martin Saffer says more money needs to be spent on putting people in jail.

“We’ve got to put people in jail,” he said. “We’ve got to make people take responsibility for their actions. We’ve got to do our job as government and that means arrest convict and jail people who break the law.”

Rather than judging individual requests on their merits, Saffer refused to support any funding request that was not reduced by 50-percent.

“I would, at the very best, vote only to give half of the amounts requested for any request,” he said. The other half of the money, I want to make sure that the prosecutor, the sheriff and everybody else is doing their job to make sure that we enforce the criminal law.”

The commission approved contributions of $4,000 for Youth Health Services; $15,000 for the Family Refuge Center; $20,000 for the Prevention Coalition; $3,000 for a Pocahontas Memorial Hospital sign and $2,500 for a historic Civil War mural, to be painted on a building in Marlinton.

The commission tabled action on a funding request from the Child and Youth Advocacy Center, due to a civil suit against the CYAC director for sexual harassment.

During discussion of appointment of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital board members, commissioner Jamie Walker insisted that the commission abide by Ethics Commission rules. Under the rules, Saffer is required to leave the meeting room, because his wife is a hospital employee.

Saffer agreed not to vote but initially refused to leave the room.

“I think, due to the Ethics Commission, if you’re not going to vote on it, you’re not supposed to talk about it,” Walker said. “I’m not willing to talk until we decide who’s going to be voting. Then we’ll talk.”

“I’m not voting,” said Saffer.

“Then, you need to leave,” said Walker.

“I’m not leaving,” said Saffer. It’s ridiculous.”

“I think it’s the law,” said Walker.

“I’m going to sit here,” said Saffer. “I won’t participate.”

Fleming agreed with Walker on the rules and Saffer left the council chamber.

“The ethics department does say that a commission member who can’t participate on an item is supposed to leave the room,” said Fleming.

The commission re-appointed Janet Ghigo to the PMH board and appointed Walt Weiford as a new board member. The commission also appointed Caroline Sharp, Brenda Doss, Glen Galloway and John Arnold to the Parks and Recreation board. Despite a vacancy, Flemings motion to appoint attorney Roger Forman to the Parks and Rec board died for lack of a second. Saffer spoke against Forman’s appointment because the attorney is representing a client in a civil suit against the county.

In other business, the commission:
— accepted a bid for $16,863 for a new courtroom air conditioner; and
— tabled action on a revised Sheriff’s Auxiliary contract until the insurance status of Auxiliary members is resolved.

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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