Pocahontas County Commission Approves Revised Courthouse Elevator Project

Marlinton, WV – After some “tweaking” Architect James Swiger of WYK Associates has come up with an estimate for the Pocahontas Courthouse elevator project that the Pocahontas County Commission can live with.

At a previous meeting of the Commission, four bids were submitted for the project ranging in price from $958,000.00 to over 1.1 million. The Commissioners asked Swiger to take another look at the lowest bidder, High Point Construction, and see if it could be reduced further. Swiger presented the results at the County Commission meeting Tuesday night.

The estimate for the project is now $680,000.00. Adding in a contingency fee of $40,000.00 brings the total cost estimate to $720,000.00, well within the three quarters of a million dollars the Commission agreed to set aside for the elevator. Swiger says the estimate represents the bare bones cost for the project. To sweeten the deal, he also offered to take $2500.00 off of the architectural fee.

Commissioner Martin Saffer acknowledges that the project is a hard sell.

“You know, on one hand I think people understand why we’re considering this” says Saffer, “but on the other hand many constituents and taxpayers just can’t grasp why it’s so darn expensive. And it’s very hard to spend this kind of money for a project which will have its uses and is necessary, but at the same time it’s not like building a whole new annex. It’s relatively small [but] it’s a very big cost.”

Swiger says they could further reduce the cost of the elevator by locating it outside of the courthouse, but that would almost certainly mar the appearance of the historic building. And he says one of the most frequent complaints that he’s heard about the courthouse concerns the current chair lift that is used for handicapped access. He says the use of the cumbersome lift allows the courthouse to meet Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, but just barely. The Commissioners unanimously voted to accept the bid from High Point Construction.

In other business, Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney Donna Meadows-Price asked the Commission for their approval to hire James C. Love, IV as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the county. Love is currently in the process of closing his private practice in Virginia, would start on a part time basis on June 1st, and become a full time assistant on July 15th. While not as well versed in juvenile as he is in criminal cases, Price feels that he can get up to speed quickly. The Commission approved the hire.

The Commission discussed whether or not a policy is needed concerning solicitation of courthouse employees by those promoting school, church or other fund-raising activities. The subject came up after a courthouse employee anonymously complained that they feel pressured to make a purchase when asked. But after discussion, including comments from other employees, the Commission decided to take no action.

They did approve a resolution to sponsor a $5600.00 Governors Community Participation grant for the Pearl S. Buck house in Hillsboro. The Buck Foundation will provide the 10% cash match for the grant.

The Commission also approved a $250.00 contribution to North Central Community for their upcoming fishing derby. They had asked for $500.00. Donna Meadows-Price agreed to contribute the other $250.00 from her budget.

They also agreed by a two to one to give the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation $2500.00 towards the operations and maintenance costs of the Edray Industrial Park. Commissioner Saffer opposed the contribution. The GVEDC had requested $10,000.00.

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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