Pocahontas County Commission Commits Remaining $29,000 In Discretionary Funds To Various Organizations
Marlinton, WV – With $29,000 remaining in contribution funds, the Pocahontas County Commission considered several donation requests during its Tuesday morning meeting.
The commission began with approval of two previous requests. High Rocks Academy received a $9,000 contribution, bringing the total donation to the girls’ school to $25,000 for this fiscal year. The commission also granted $2,000 to the Farmer’s Market program, leaving $18,000 to distribute for new requests.
Lauren Bennett, with County Parks and Recreation, requested a donation for the Wellness Center, to be built in Marlinton. The commission decided to consider other requests and allocate the remainder to the Wellness Center project.
The commission approved a $2,000 donation to the Northern Pocahontas County food pantry; a $500 donation to the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans mobile wall; and a $500 donation to the North Central Community Action kids’ fishing derby. Commissioners took no action on a $1,000 request from the Mountain Resources Conservation and Development program.
The commission donated the remaining $15,000 to Parks and Rec for the Wellness Center project.
The commission considered another major purchase from the general fund.
Frontier Communications executives presented three options for a new courthouse telephone system: purchase the system outright for $23,800; purchase the system with a five-year maintenance plan for $29,000; or lease the system with maintenance and upgrade coverage for $39,400.
Commissioners David Fleming and Martin Saffer moved and seconded to purchase the more expensive lease plan. Commissioner Jamie Walker said $20,000 was a high price to pay for five years of maintenance and upgrades, when a new system would cost under $24,000 to install. Walker urges his fellow commissioners to reconsider.
“I’m more inclined just to purchase it, straight out, for $23,800, without the maintenance, and jusy pay the maintenance, as we go,” he said.
“Almost $20,000 you’re going to have to work with,” he added.
“My theory is – if we want to upgrade it, in three or four years, just pay the difference and upgrade it,” Walker continued. “If it’s perfectly fine the way it is, we just saved the money.”
Fleming and Saffer were persuaded and the commission voted 3-0 to purchase the new telephone system with no maintenance plan, for $23,800.
Finally, the commission considered a major purchase from the 911 fund.
County 911 director Shawn Dunbrack requested to purchase a four-wheel-drive SUV for his department, at an estimated cost of $30,000. Deputy director Melvin Martin currently drives a 3/4 ton truck with 180,000 miles. Dunbrack would get the new SUV; Martin would get Dunbrack’s SUV; and 911 would keep the aging truck to pull an eight-ton trailer.
Commissioners discussed courthouse-owned vehicles, in general, and pondered whether it would be better to pay employees mileage.
The commission invited Assessor Dolan Irvine to tell them why his department pays mileage, when other departments have county-owned vehicles. Irvine told the commission he has four employees traveling the county during the fall, and he thought it was more economical for his office to pay mileage. Dunbrack told the Commission he and Martin need four-wheel drive vehicles to respond to emergencies and access remote areas. Walker said the aging truck would fall into disrepair if allowed to sit unused.
“I just know, from my experience, I’ve had three and four vehicles over the last 10 years,” he said. “If you keep a vehicle to pull this trailer with – and I’ve done that for awhile – I had a vehicle I pulled my cattle trailer with. It never failed – every time I needed it, something was the matter with it.”
“That’s just my theory,” he said. “You’re better off to buy something and drive it every day and when it’s wore out, buy another one, rather than having four or five.”
Walker said he favored buying a new truck to replace the aging 3/4 ton, rather than adding an SUV to the fleet. The Commission directed Dunbrack to get prices for a new SUV, capable of pulling the trailer, from dealers and the state bid program. The commission will reconsider the vehicle purchase at its next meeting on May 15.