Pocahontas Commissioners Wrangle with Towing Ordinance –Again
Following lengthy and heated debate last year over the creation of a Pocahontas County Emergency Towing Ordinance, the County Commission finally created an advisory committee to draft the ordinance. The committee, which was composed of towing company owners, 911 staff, law enforcement and the Commission’s Attorney, Bob Martin, finally created a fair rotational based towing ordinance as required by state law, which was adopted by the County Commissioners.
There was an effort to reopen that entire ordinance at the June 19th County Commission meeting when George Murphy of the county Fire Association, Steve Tritapoe of the Frost Volunteer Fire Department, Randy Wilfong of the Shavers Fork VFD appeared before the Commissioners asking that the passed ordinance be changed to allow members of fire departments to call out tow trucks for either emergency rotational tows or owner requests. They stated that the current Ordinance only allows a law enforcement officer to call for an emergency tow and this delays the opening of roadways blocked by damaged or disabled vehicles. They also expressed their consternation that fire services had not been a part of the committee that drafted the ordinance. Opposing that was Johnny Dean, of Johnny’s Towing and Bob Martin who said that allowing people other than law enforcement call for tows created problems with unnecessary tows being dispatched and for possible favoritism if a particular towing company is recommended to vehicle owners. Chief Deputy Dave Walton also expressed his concerns about the delays but was also concerned that vehicles might be moved or towed before law enforcement was able to arrive and investigate the accident if non-law enforcement could call. Walton said that if he was contacted by someone from a fire department who he knew and trusted and insured him that an emergency tow was needed and that the actual tow would not occur until he arrived, he would be ok with calling to have the tow truck dispatched while he was still in route to the scene. Martin explained that the current ordinance would need to be changed to allow that. In the end, the Commissioners said the committee, plus fire personnel could meet and try to find solutions and to bring any recommended changes to the ordinance back to the Commission to consider.
In other actions at the meeting, the Commissioners voted to:
- Hire Makeia Jonese, a law student, as a part time summer intern in the County Prosecutor’s office at $12.00 per hour not to exceed 39 hours a week.
- To sign a letter of support for the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center’s application to be designated as an International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center.
- Approved a contract agreement with the One Room University for the upcoming fiscal year.
- Approved the new 911 Center’s Standard Operating Procedures
- Approved the County Farmland Protection Board’s purchase of a permanent Conservation Easement from Alfred Dilley.
- Corrected the previous appointment of Jenifer Rose as an unaffiliated farmer to the Farmland Protection Board. The correction was that the appointment is for a full four-year term instead of filling an unexpired term.
- Appointed Paul Rader to a four-year term on the Solid Waste authority.
- Appointed Delores Cutlip to a four-year term on the Health Department Board.
- Appointed Mark Smith to a six-year term on the Public Service District.
- Appointed Ken Gaiter to a three-year term on the Parks and Recreation Board.
- Designated all of the banks located in Pocahontas County as County Depositories for the upcoming fiscal year.
- Agreed to allow the Pocahontas County Emergency Medical Services to use the 911 Center’s account with BearCom to purchase EMS Mobile Radios. EMS will pay for these using separate invoices from 911 purchases under the account.
- Approved joining the WV Counties Risk Pool for the purchase of insurance and workers comp insurance next fiscal year.
- Scheduled a special Commission session for Friday, July 29th at 10:30 a.m. to pay fiscal year ending invoices and to approve an extension of the contract with MindEase Solutions to provide services for the County Day Report Center next fiscal year.
In his Counsel Report, Bob Martin said that there are three possible recruits for the County Building Authority. One, Bucky Turner has already agreed, and he is still waiting for final commitments from the other two. These could be approved as soon as the July 29th special session. Martin also said that the State will no longer allow the County Senior Citizen’s vehicles to use State license plates, and it is not lawful for them to use County license plates, so he will seek to have the Commission contribute the funds for them to obtain regular tags.