Pocahontas County Commission Commits To Over $13,000 In Contributions At February Meeting
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Commission pledged to give away over $13,000.00 in contribution requests at their meeting on Feb 7th. This is third quarterly session for the Commission to consider contribution requests from community organizations. Three county groups presented their case Tuesday, the Pocahontas Artisans Cooperative, the Historic Preservation Project and Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation.
Marsha Laska, a member of the Arts Coop, asked the Commissioners for $1720.00 for advertising purposes. The Coop started in 2007 with a core group of local artists. Since that time they have opened two galleries, in Green Bank and Marlinton, and have grown from 17 members to 30. But Laska says despite their proximity to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, they still see a lot of potential customers drive by the gallery without stopping.
“So what we need, is we need to address signs for the gallery at Green Bank,” says Laska. “Plus we feel it’s important to create a presence that’s seen at the Durbin railroad sites, Cass, Snowshoe and NRAO through posters, some semi-permanent way of communicating to the public that’s stopping at those sites that we’re just down the road. We also need to do a better job of reaching out to our own county neighbors to make them proud to come into the gallery.”
The Commissioners agreed to the $1720.00 request from the Arts Coop, an amount scaled down from their original request for $2000.00. The Commissioners also agreed to give the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation a $5000.00 contribution to further their efforts to make the birthplace a wedding venue. The contribution request was originally presented as a cash match based on Foundation fundraisers, but the Commissioners voted to give them the money outright with no strings attached.
The other group securing a contribution from the Commission is the Pocahontas County Historic Preservation group. Gail Hyer, speaking for the group presented several letters of support for the continuing project from the Pocahontas Times, Huntersville Historical Traditions, the West Virginia Humanities Council and several individuals. This project whose mission is to locate, digitize and archive county history, started in 2008 with a three year budget of a little over $89,000.00. It was part of the hotel/motel tax allotment for the Pocahontas County Free Libraries, who act as the fiscal agent for the group. However, Hyre says there are differences of opinion between their group and library board of directors over what remains of that funding.
“The reason that we bring it to you is not because we willingly and on our own came here,” says Hyre. “We’ve been forced here because the money that we thought, we thought it was your intention to give us $16,840.00 for 2011 having the library as the physical [sic] agent. Somehow communication got lost there and that didn’t happen. That’s money that we think you meant for us. It’s essential that we follow through with what we think you charged us with.”
Commission President David Fleming made a motion to contribute up to $6,720.00 to the historic preservation group, with the promise to revisit their budgetary concerns for the next fiscal year in March. Commissioner Martin Saffer says he supports the work of the preservation group, but disagrees with Flemings’ motion, as heard in this exchange beginning with comments from Saffer.
“Although I think historic preservation is important, I also think we should be looking forward as a county and not just looking in the past all the time,” says Saffer. “We should put as much effort into looking forward; that’s all I’m saying.”
“I feel this is very fair for us,” says Fleming. “I feel like we actually obligated preservation $16,000 plus in spirit, and by saying we’re going to give them $6700, I think we got off pretty well.”
“I disagree with that perception,” says Saffer.
The motion for the contribution to the preservation group passed 2 to 1 with Saffer opposed.
After granting these requests, the Commissioners have just under $14,000.00 left in their discretionary fund. For more from the Pocahontas County Commission meeting, tune in for noon hour on Thursday, February 9th.