Pocahontas County Arts Council and Parks and Recreation Deliver Annual Reports

In part 1 of our story about the January 16th Pocahontas County Commission meeting, we described Herbie Barlow’s proposal to the commissioners that the Marlinton and Hillsboro volunteer fire departments offer comprehensive paid ambulance and fire service to the central and southern portions of Pocahontas County, and the less then warm reception that proposal received from the commissioners.  Now, in part 2 of our meeting story, we will describe what else took place at this meeting.

Peggy Owens of the Pocahontas County Arts Council delivered the Council’s annual update. She described their involvement with Durban Days, Pioneer Days, the Art Fest and the Empty Bowls event. Owens said they arranged to have Miss West Virginia come and read to kids, and they are applying for a grant to enable them to better help youths get involved in the arts. The Arts Council is also attempting to get Pocahontas County officially designated as an Arts County.

Lauren Bennett, the Director of Parks and Recreation delivered their annual update, in which she said that in 2023, they continued to enhance the lives of county citizens, despite the reductions to their budget. Bennett said they made various improvements, including: new concrete baseball dugouts and toilets at Stillwell Park; repaired drainage issues and added a new restroom at Widney Park; upgraded equipment at the Wellness Center; purchased a new tractor to replace their 1990 era tractor; and worked with the Green Bank Observatory to allow the public to use their swimming pool. She said that Parks and Recreation’s facilities were widely used by citizens and youth groups in 2023.

Sheriff Barlow requested that the commissioners approve his office to hire Jacob Kinsley as a full-time Secretary. Barlow explained Kinsley would be filling this vacant position and will be paid $13.00 per hour, plus benefits, and will be paid out of the Sheriff’s Department budget. The commissioners approved Barlow’s request.

Amanda Smarr of Region 4 asked the commissioners to table the agenda item requesting approval of budget amendment #1 and draw Request #8 from the ARC Broadband Project Grant until a future meeting since they are still awaiting more guidance from the state about those items. Smarr said the state has indicated that they will require any utility pole agreements for broadband fiber to be made between the utility and the project’s Internet service provider, in this case, CityNet. Currently these proposed agreements, which are the subject of the budget items on the agenda, are between the utility and the County Commission, so they might have to be changed.

The commissioners approved Andrew Walker’s request for them to appoint Eric Lindberg and Chelsea Faulkner as Pocahontas County Representatives to the Board of the Mountaineer Trail Network.

Additionally, the commissioners discussed the possibility of passing a future County Ordinance regarding dilapidated structures. Commissioner John Rebinski said he wouldn’t want such an ordinance to be punitive against the owners of these blighted properties, but instead it should be designed to assist and encourage those owners to remove or repair those structures.

Commission President Walt Helmick said that before passing such an ordinance, they will first need to find a state-approved disposal site for the demolition debris, and suggested they invite state officials who regulate waste management to a future meeting to discuss this.

The commissioners also approved changes to their Personnel Guidelines and Policies Manual. Those changes involved issues like jury duty, bereavement leave, meal reimbursement during official travel, and holiday pay.



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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