Pocahontas County Commission Entertains contribution/Funding Requests

At their December 7th meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners considered contribution/funding requests:

The commissioners honored the following contribution/funding requests:

  • Doug Bernier requested the commissioners to contribute $5000.00 to the Opera House to pay for installing an Ultra Violet (UV) light system in the building’s duct works to kill germs and viruses, and to help pay for the installation of an insulated door in the rear of the Opera house. The commissioners agreed to this request.
  • Francesca Zarcone of the Pocahontas County Child and Youth Advocacy Center was granted $4500.00 by the commissioners to support children from families in crisis.
  • Trish McNaull of the Humane Society of Pocahontas County asked for and received $5000.00 to use as a local match for their $15,000.00 state Spay and Neuter Program.

Kathy Mason & Lois Wilfong also requested $5,000.00 to help fund school dances and other student social activities at PCHS, but the commissioners took no action on this at this time. Instead, they told them to first ask the Board of Education for those funds. If not successful with that, they should bring a detailed list of their needs to the next commission funding meeting in February. Board President Walt Commission President Walt Helmick said the Board of Education has money for those types of things because of the state’s 1400 Funding program but they send people to the County Commission to get funds.

Andrew Robinson of Senator Manchin’s Office appeared before the commissioners via Zoom Meeting to explain the guidelines the commissioners need to follow to distribute the 1.6 million dollars of American Rescue Plan money the state provided to the county. He said it could be spent on:

  • Replacing lost public sector money due to COVID
  • Supporting public health’s response to COVID.
  • Premium pay for essential workers needed because of COVID
  • Water and Sewer projects
  • Broadband expansion.

He also referred the commissioners to the State Auditor for additional information. The State Auditor’s Website (Covid-19 – wvsao.gov) adds a clarification to the public health criteria. That criteria in full reads:

“To respond to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or to aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel or hospitality.”

Laura Young of the Family Resource Network asked Robinson about whether the FRN would be eligible to receive ARP funding reimbursement of their lost revenue due to COVID. Robinson said not under the “replacing lost public sector money” provision, but maybe under the public health provision.

Robinson added that the commissioners have to be careful to ensure any money they distribute follows these guidelines or there could be penalties assessed.

He also confirmed that the commission has until December 31, 2024 to allocate their ARP funds, and until December 31, 2026 to account for the completed projects that used the money.

Robinson said the Governor still has $100,000 in unspent CARES Act money and has an additional 1.25 billion dollars in American Rescue Plan money that might still be allocated to the counties or municipalities.

Mayor Sam Felton of Marlinton asked Robinson clarify if the Town of Marlinton actually has $424,000 in ARP money instead of the $400,000, they believed they had. Robinson confirmed the $424,000 figure, making Felton happy about the extra $24,000.

Other items discussed and/or acted on at this meeting will be aired in Part 2 of this commission meeting story.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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