Pocahontas County Commission Approves Farmland Protection Easement Purchases
At the April 5th Pocahontas Commission meeting, the Pocahontas County Farmland Protection Board asked the County Commissioners to approve the purchase of three easements, all in the Hillsboro District of the County. The three properties together would amount to 231.33 acres of newly protected farmland. The Farmland Protection Board buys these Conservation Easements in which the landowner still owns the farmland but agrees to not develop the land for any commercial, industrial or residential purpose and agrees to not subdivide the land, thus ensuring the land remains farmland forever. The authority for this comes from WV Law, specifically the 1995 Conservation and Preservation Easements Act and the 2000 Voluntary Farmland Protection Act. The purchase of any such easement also requires the authorization of the County Commission, which the Commissioners granted for these 3 easement purchases.
Cara Rose of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau provided an update to the Commissioners. This included briefings on the new “Adventure Guide” to Pocahontas County which is now available at the Visitors Center, the Annual Tourism Luncheon on May 14th,, the Tourism Person of the Year and the Tourism Scholarship.
JAK Kincade of the Citizens Conservation a non-profit Corporation, asked the Commissioners’ support for their “Reaching the Summit Program”. That program finds one-day community service projects for Boy Scout Troops to do while they will be attending the July 2017 Scout Jamboree. They are looking for one to three projects for the Scouts to do in Pocahontas County.
The Commissioners heard from Cannon Wadsworth of Global Science Technology about providing computer, printer and Internet wireless services to the Sheriff’s Department and the 911 Center. Both of those agencies want to be added to Global Science’s current contract with the Courthouse agencies. The Commissioners voted to do this, for the monthly added cost of $614.00 to be divided between the budgets of the sheriff’s Department and the 911 Center. Unlimited support, including virus protection and repair is included in the monthly cost.
Glen Galloway was appointed to the Civil Service Board; Herby Barlow, Kenneth Varner and Laura Combs were appointed to the 911 advisory Board; and Robert Sheets was appointed to the Historic Landmarks Commission.
The Commissioners approved writing a letter of support for the Region 4 Planning and Development Council’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy five year revision.
They granted permission for the American Lung Association to store bicycles overnight on May 13th in the Former Shoe Factory Building. The Association will be biking on the Greenbrier River Trail and will spend the night in Marlinton, but need a safe place to keep their bikes overnight.
The Commissioners discussed the agreement to have the County Parks and Recreation take over management of the Cass Community Park but were unable to take any action at this meeting since the agreement is being prepared by the Commission’s Counsel who was unable to attend this meeting.
While the Commissioner’s were completing the final item on the agenda – the payment of invoices, Todd Gunter, the Field Representative for Senator Shelley Moore Capito, dropped in to discuss 2 issues with the Commissioners. The first was about the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. Senator Capito wanted Gunter to ask the Commissioners what they would or would not want to see in any U.S. Congressional legislation which would establish the Monument. Specifically items like the size and location of the Monument, restrictions or no restrictions on recreational use of the land around the Monument such as hunting or fishing, and whether the land should be left with the Mon Forest or turned over to the National Park Service. Gunter said the Senator feared that without this legislation, it is probable that the President will establish the Monument by Executive Order before leaving office and then the County would have no say about the size, location, management or restrictions, all of which would be included in any Executive Order creating the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. The Commissioners were receptive to discussing this at a future meeting.
The second issue Gunter wanted to discuss was the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Senator wanted to know the Commissioners’ positions on the route of the Pipeline. The Commissioners explained that they were totally opposed to the Alternative Route, and asked the Senator’s support to help convince the Mon Forest to reconsider their opposition to the original Northern Route, especially since Dominion Power has said they would drill under the parts of the Mon Forest where the Cheat Mountain Salamander and the Flying Squirrel have habitats thus not disturbing the land surface in those areas. Gunter said he would advise the Senator of their position.