Pocahontas Commissioners Solve Personnel Coverage Issue at Animal Shelter
At their September 15th meeting, the Pocahontas Commissioners took action to ensure there will be adequate coverage to care for the animals housed in the County Animal Shelter when full-time shelter employees use their earned annual leave.
During the August commission meetings, Deputy Joshua Vaughan had explained to the Commissioners that their part-time employee also held another job which often prevented her from being available to work when staff coverage at the shelter was needed. Vaughan had originally asked for that part-time employee’s hours to be increased so that she could afford to work only for the shelter. The commissioners, however, concluded that increasing a part-time employee’s hours beyond twenty-four (24) hours per week would set a precedent and trigger some benefits that are now reserved for full-time employees. As an alternative solution, the commissioners authorized the shelter to advertise for one or more substitute employees to work on a “call-in” and “as-needed” basis.
At this meeting, the commissioners approved hiring three substitute employees that the shelter interviewed and recommended. They will work as needed when called in. Hired were:
- Shalyn Mackenzie Rose-Arbogast of Durbin
- Gregory Keatley of Marlinton
- Rhonda Marie Day of Marlinton
The commissioners also addressed an emergency maintenance issue at the courthouse. Due to a probable roof leak, part of the ceiling above the main staircase had collapsed, creating a safety issue which required closing that stairway, which leads up to the Circuit Courtroom. The commissioners approved a temporary patch to enable the stairway to be reopened. As a more permanent solution, they also approved hiring a roofing contractor to inspect and repair the roof problem that caused the collapse.
During the mail items and concerns:
- The State auditors Office has asked the commission to combine the audit of the Fire Board, which is a commission organization, with the audit of the commission. The commissioners approved this.
- Mike Cozad of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline contacted the commission to request an appearance at a future meeting to update the commissioners on the progress of the close-out of the project. This will be scheduled.
- Direct TV has denied the Commission’s request to provide local West Virginia TV stations to their customers here.
Cara Rose, the Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau delivered the bureau’s 2020 annual report to the commission, stressing the unusual tourism year due to the pandemic, Rose said that nationally, tourism demographics have “shifted to a heavy focus on outdoor recreation” which has benefited Pocahontas County. She said that most tourism businesses and attractions have re-opened with a heavy emphasis on protocols to protect staff, visitors and the community. She added that following record Hotel Occupancy Tax receipts in fiscal year 2018-2019, those revenues dropped by 15.8% in the 2019-2020 fiscal year that ended July 1, 2020. This was due to the virus shutdown that began in March. But even those lower receipts were nearly the same as the tax receipts in fiscal year 2017-2018. Rose added that increasing summer tourism activity in the future will hopefully rival that of the winter skiing seasons.
In other actions, the commissioners:
- Approved a petition to change the road name of Caribou Lane to McCarty Lane at no charge to the petitioner since the residents of that road were never given an opportunity offer their input about the current name. They also approved a petition to change the name of Grandma’s Holler Road to Stoney Creek Road-provided that the new name be correctly spelled as “Stony Creek Road.”
- They approved election workers for the November election and approved the 2019-2020 Pocahontas County Financial Statement.
- They decided to invite the Mayors of the three incorporated towns in the county to the next commission meeting to discuss distribution of the county’s COVID-19 Block Grant funds.
They took no action on a proposed letter regarding the sale of wine in the county, as the County Prosecutor said a letter was no longer necessary because the county went from being an alcohol beverage “dry” county to a “wet” county last July due to action by the State Legislature. The county would have to hold a special election to approve returning to the “dry” status.