Pocahontas County Commission Approves Funding For Phase One Of Comprehensive Water Plan
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Commission has given the county Water Resources Task Force the green light to proceed with phase one of a comprehensive water resources management plan for the county. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee further funding support down the road.
Task Force Coordinator and Vista volunteer Lynn Marie Knight presented a detailed agreement to the Commissioners during their regular meeting on November 15th. It’s an agreement with Downstream Strategies to develop phase one of the county water resources management plan. It includes start and end dates, and the scope of the work to be done by the company.
Downstream Strategies is the same company that helped the Elk Headwaters Watershed Association develop their Vision statement for their comprehensive watershed plan for that river. They will be paid just under $15,000.00 for the work. Once completed, the county water resources management plan will be submitted to the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection to be included in a comprehensive water plan for the state.
That money comes from an approximately $23,000.00 EPA grant that the task force received earlier this year. The Commission is the fiscal sponsor for the grant and must approve expenditures.
This request is pretty straightforward and didn’t seem to bother the Commissioners. However, a request for additional funding related to the project did cause some dissension. Water task force member Joshua Hardy says another Vista position would be needed when the project starts in January.
“If we had Lynn Marie as our part time administrator, along with a full time Vista – [she] could oversee, mentor and really bring up to speed in a quick amount of time; we also see that as a very valuable asset” says Hardy. “But we are saying in effect, there’s no way as a task force we can in good faith have this contract start its process January one with no part or full time assistance.”
The task force is asking the Commission to commit to another $6850.00 from the grant and a match of over $5100.00 for the Vista position. Part of the grant money would cover GIS training for Knight once her Vista position ends in February. While he supports the purpose of the task force, Commission President Martin Saffer is leery of committing more money at this time.
“Again it still boils down to approval of this, has the next meeting request of another $12000.00 approximately” he says. “Not only that, but there’s the fact that there’s ever increasing demands on our revenues and our pot of money is always being asked for.”
Commissioner David Fleming took part in the meeting by phone due to car trouble. He says the work the task force is doing is very important and deserves the Commission’s support.
“This effort is one of a kind” he says. “The other things we fund are of course important, but they have a lot of commonality to them in their service towards people. This is the only one of its kind rolling county wide, this water resources task force. I think that for me and for us should be the rationale for why it’s work backing.”
A motion to approve the $15000.00 agreement with Downstream Strategies was approved unanimously. The rest of the proposal will be added to the next meeting agenda for further discussion.
In other business, the Commissioners also approved the following:
Appointed Dr. Ron Fleming to the Pocahontas County Emergency Medical Services Authority. Dr. Fleming was the only one who applied for the physician representative position
Designated Sheriff David Jonese and Emergency Services Director Melvin Martin as the primary and secondary contacts for the county emergency response plan for court security
And approved a grant application for $80,000.00 to the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. Commissioner Reta Griffith says the county has a good track record of receiving this grant.