Pocahontas Commisson Considers New Insurance Program

Marlinton, West Virginia – Steve Rawlins with the West Virginia County Risk Pool pitched an insurance program to the Pocahontas County Commission during the commission’s Tuesday evening meeting. The county currently insures through the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management, known as BRIM. The Risk Pool website states 36 county commissions have joined for either property and casualty insurance, workers’ compensation, or both.

Rawlins says risk pool members own and control the organization and its money.

“Those who are making the decisions are those owners of the pool,” he said. “It’s not a third-party. It’s not a large commercial group that’s going to be housed elsewhere. This is a West Virginia incorporated program that is focused and the only thing we do are counties and county-related authorities.”

“Last year, we returned $50,000 in dividends to those members that participated in the ’07-’08 fiscal year,” he said. “That’s never been done in the State of West Virginia for public entities to receive a dividend back from a member-owned program.”

Commissioner Martin Saffer asks which entity would cover current claims against the county.

“What about a pre-existing legal claim or claims that are knocking at the door or actually filed against you?” Saffer asked.

Rawlins says BRIM covers claims arising from occurrences during BRIM’s contract period.

“Let’s say you have an event today that you don’t know about,” he said. “So, one of your Sheriff’s deputies gets in a scuffle with somebody. Eight months from now – let’s say you left BRIM and joined the pool – eight months from now, you get a claim from that event that happened today. That’s BRIM’s claim.”

Risk pool basic coverage covers law enforcement up to $1 million per incident, the same coverage as BRIM. Rawlins provided a detailed written report and estimated the cost of coverage for Pocahontas County, including workers compensation, at $120,758 per year. Commissioners agreed to review the proposal and consider risk pool membership during future meetings.

The commission held a closed session at the request of prosecuting attorney Donna Meadows Price, who said that confidential information would be discussed. Upon return to open session, Saffer said the closed session was not justified and describes the conversation.

“The matter concerns a request by the prosecuting attorney to pay part of legal expenses, concerning a matter before the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, and the commission is going to take that under advisement and consult with other commissions to determine what our legal and appropriate liability and response should be.”

Local media members questioned the legality of the closed session. West Virginia law prohibits closed sessions, except for narrowly defined exceptions. Knowing and willful violation of the open government law is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine as much as $1,000.

The commission heard a Community Corrections update from program coordinator Elissa Taylor. Taylor reported that 12 out of 53 drug screens administered had resulted positive for drug use. Twelve individuals testing positive, six from Day Report and six on bond, were jailed.

Doug Bernier, with the Farmer’s Market project, read a letter of thanks for the commission’s financial support. Bernier said the project used just $1,100 of the $2,000 allocated by the commission last year. The representative said the project is pursuing non-profit status with the IRS.
In other business, the county commission:
— passed a resolution declaring May 15 as Peace Officer Memorial Day in Pocahontas County.
— refunded a $4,000 payment from Elkins Metal Recycling.
— tabled action on county employee vaccinations.
— received a letter of resignation from Landmarks Commission member Peggy Brill.
— approved an annual participation fee of $8,719 to Region 4 Planning and Development Council.
— ordered Allen Parsons to take action in the estate of Arlis Parsons within 30 days, or the matter will be assigned to the Sheriff’s Department.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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