Pocahontas Commission Reneges on Offer to Return Slaven Property to Board of Education
After the Pocahontas County Commission voted at its last meeting to offer to return the former Slaven property in the Green Bank Industrial Park to the County Board of Education, they declined to do so at their October 20th meeting. Instead they agreed to consider another option for the property at a future meeting.
When the proposal to return the property to the Board of Education came up, Commission Counsel Bob Martin was asked to summarize the situation.
Martin said he was directed by the Commission to extend their offer to return the land to the Board of Education. He did so at a Board meeting and the Board voted to accept the Commission’s offer. He noted that the Commission had made this offer because the Board of Education had previously refused the Commission’s request to release the “economic development only” restriction they had placed on the deed, making it impossible for the Commission to do anything with the land.
Commissioner McLaughlin then said that he would prefer to hold off on returning the property because another option has come up. At that point Michael O’Brien, the Office Manager for the Jacob Meck Construction Company spoke up resulting in the following interesting exchange between Mr. O’Brien and Commission President Beard.
“Mr. Beard, I thought I made it clear that we would like to have the 9 acres (of the property)” said Mr. O’Brien.
“I understood that but at the last meeting we were talking about turning it over to the Board of Education and you all receiving it through the Board of Education” replied Beard. “That seemed all right at that time.”
“My personnel opinion, I’d much rather it go through the Greenbrier Economic Development (Corporation)” said O’Brien. “And maybe I didn’t state it plain enough and I’m very sorry if I didn’t, but I thought I asked if you would hold that 9 acres out. Turn it over to the Greenbrier Economic Development Commission so that we could pursue that through them.”
Mr. Jacob Meck also appeared before the Board to reiterate Mr. O’Brien’s request. It was pointed out that the Meck Construction Company has provided many high paying jobs in the County and needs that land to expand, and that the 9 acres has already been surveyed. They said any issues over open sewer pits on their land have been resolved so there should not be any public objection to their acquiring the property.
Commissioner McLaughlin said that Jacob Meck has a good relationship with Greenbrier Economic Development and if the land went to the Board of Education, they would have to start all over at “square 1” to get the land from the Board. Commissioner Walker said he had no problem with this either way but he felt the Board of Education could move forward on this quicker.
The Commission did not take any action on this, instead will place the issue on a future agenda.
In other actions, the Commission awarded a bid to provide Heating Oil to the Jail and all Courthouse buildings to Woodford Oil Company, the only bidder, for Marathon Rack Price plus 12cents per gallon for the next year starting on November 1st.
They heard the monthly Day Report center report from Tammie Alderman where the Center saved the County $26,000 in jail costs in September.
Took no action on a request the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food made for them to issue a letter supporting State Based Food Labeling Laws. They made this decision after hearing from John Leyzorek and Doug Bernier, County residents who opposed that food labeling initiative.
The Commissioners received an oral report from their counsel, Bob Martin who said he has written a letter to the County Assessor asking him to reconsider removing the tax-exempt status on the County owned Former Shoe Factory Building since the Assessor’s actions were based only on a non-binding advisory opinion from the State Tax Office.
The Commission authorized the Sheriff to enter into negotiations regarding a possible 5 year contract with Snowshoe Mountain Resort to provide Sheriff Deputies to be assigned to an office at the Resort. Snowshoe would pay salaries and all equipment, but the Deputies would not work for or take orders from the Resort.
In a final action, after a lengthy closed Executive Session, the Commissioners returned to open session and voted two to one (Commissioner Jamie Walker dissenting) to dismiss and terminate 911 Dispatcher Lisa Friel’s employment with the 911 Center. No reason was made public.