Pocahontas Commissioners Commit Spending a Big Part of Their COVID-19 State Block Grant

With a December 31st deadline approaching to spend the remaining seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) of the state’s one-hundred thousand-dollar ($100.00) block grant for CEVID-19 expenses, the Pocahontas County Commissioners, at their October 6th meeting, committed to spend a big chunk of that remaining balance.

First, they committed five-thousand dollars ($5,000) to protect courthouse personnel from infection, which includes almost four-thousand dollars ($4,000) to erect a “people barrier” in front of the door to the Assessor’s Office to prevent the public from walking in freely. This took the remaining grant balance down to seventy-thousand dollars ($70,000.)

Commissioner Helmick suggested that ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) be held back until closer to the December 31st deadline for any health-related emergencies that might arise, This took the remaining grant balance down to sixty-thousand dollars ($60,000,)

Next, they listened to the mayors of the three incorporated towns in the county- Marlinton, Durbin and Hillsboro – who presented ideas such as:

  • At Hillsboro: The need for a part-time secretary to handle COVID related paperwork.
  • At Marlinton: The need for an improved audio/visual system to allow the public to better hear town Counsel and other virtual meetings; equipment to check temperatures of people entering town meetings; additional personal protection equipment for town employees; and funds to make up for water and sewer lost revenues due to the COVID-19 related ban on suspending service when customers don’t pay their bills.
  • At Durbin: The mayor submitted to the commissioners, a written request for three-thousand, three-hundred and twenty dollars ($3,320) for various COVID-19 expenses.

With the exception of the Durbin request, the other mayors did not submit any total amount needed.

The Commissioners voted to offer ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) at this time to each of the three towns, however it will be payable only when the towns submit invoices to the commission for each of their proposed purchases. This reduces the available uncommitted funds in the grant to thirty-thousand dollars ($30,000.) They said that remaining money would also go to the towns at a later date.

Later in the meeting, in another agenda item, the commissioners voted to spend up to seventeen hundred dollars ($1,700) each for two hand-held automatic sanitizing foggers to cleanse and disinfect the courthouse and other county buildings and vehicles. This money will come out of the ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) of the block grant funds they had set aside for emergencies.

They voted to renew their lease at its current rate of two-hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00) per month with the West Virginia Division of Forestry for that agency to continue to use office space at the Former Shoe Factory county building.

They tabled until next month the writing of a letter of support for the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. This was about the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation selling the Board of Education’s Green Bank property (aka the Slaven Property) to Jacob Meck. The commissioners delayed action on this because they wanted input from the Board of Education before writing this letter.

They voted to keep the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation as the lead economic development agency for the county for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

They discussed in executive (closed) session with their attorney, County Prosecutor Gene Simmons, a response to a letter that had requested a change in classification of various properties, but took no official action.

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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