Pocahontas Commissioners Revise Proposed Emergency Towing Ordinance

After friendly but intense discussions between the Commissioners, the Commissioner’s Attorney, Bob Martin and Johnny Dean of Johnnys Garage and input from Sheriff David Jonese, the Pocahontas County Commissioners voted to revise the proposed new County Towing Ordinance.  The proposed ordinance had been scheduled for its second reading and adoption at the July 7th Commission meeting until the spirited debate broke out. At issue in the proposed ordinance was that during an emergency tow, the next towing company on the rotational list would have to be called without regard to the vehicle owner’s desire to choose their own towing company. Johnny Dean strongly disagreed with that.

“But you’re taking away the owner’s rights” Dean said. “The things you’re trying to write up there now where the owner does not have the say so of his vehicles. You want to commandeer every wrecked vehicle as a police officer… yes you are; when you’re telling him (or) her you can’t have me as a wrecker.”

Attorney Bob Martin, who drafted the ordinance, defended the ordinance.

“What this does is it says that when there is an emergency there’s a rotational system and this is the top, PERIOD!” said Martin. “And it’s equal to everybody in your business in the county, no exceptions, no ifs. There’s not if the owner is available; If the owner is conscious; if there’s three cops there;  if there’s 4 ambulances; as long as it’s an emergency situation – BAM- the next guy on the list gets the call. And that’s the only way it can be done fairly.”

But Dean did not give up on his point.

“The owner should have his right” Dean said. “Put that in there, the rest of it is fine. They will work out rotations. Give it a shot, but put the words in there.”

And Sheriff Jonese suggested that the ordinance should specify that only law enforcement officers should be able to contact 911 to request they dispatch a wrecker because often citizens do that and the vehicle has been towed prior to an officer’s arrival, making it impossible to properly investigate the accident.

When all was said and done, the Commissioners agreed to amend the proposed ordinance, adding both the owner’s request provisions and the Sheriff’s suggestion allowing only Law enforcement Officers to call 911 for dispatch of a wrecker. These changes mean the ordinance will now need a first and second reading again.

In other actions;

  • The Commissioner asked their attorney to draw up a contract to hire Grazia Apolinares as an independent contractor to operate the Pocahontas County Water Resources Task force.
  • They authorized Mike Cain, Courthouse Maintenance Supervisor to obtain estimates to replace the leaky roof at the Jail.
  • They heard Lauren Ragland present them with a list of questions about water quality and emergency management preparations she says the WV law requires the Commission to answer before allowing and Atlantic Coast Pipeline to be built through the County.
  • They received a presentation from Health-Net Aeromedical Services detailing their involvement with Pocahontas Memorial Hospital and the services their non-profit company provides to the County.
  • They received a report from Tammie Alderman of the Day Report Center about the resignation of Jeff Barlow and of the posting of a job vacancy to fill his position which will have a closing date of July 21st.
  • They appointed Carol Woody to the Board of Pocahontas County Free Libraries for a 5 year term.
  • They discussed the annual maintenance contract with Doug McKenzie of GeoWeb LLC for the 911 Mapping and Addressing System
  • At the end of the meeting, Bert Krieps, a citizen from Cass, addressed the Commissioners and reported that the problems at the East Cass Community Park as reported at a previous Commission meeting were very exaggerated. He stated that he and other neighbors of the park take their kids on camping trips and picnics there. Kreips states that there has not been any arson, gunshots or vandalism at the park. The reported arson of a picnic table there was actually his group safely dismantling a dangerously rotting picnic table, safely burning it then replacing it with a new picnic table.

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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