Pocahontas County Commission Officially Approves Hiring of Two New Deputies
Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Commission President David Fleming was ready to hire two new deputies for the county Sheriff’s department at the last county commission meeting on February 21st. However, after two northern Pocahontas County residents questioned the need to hire 2 additional deputies, his fellow Commissioners Martin Saffer and Jamie Walker declined to support a motion for the hires. Those raising the question were Buster Varner and Stephen McCarty, who also happen to be democratic and republican candidates respectively in the May primary race for county Sheriff.
During a special meeting of the Commission on February 28th, they once again discussed the hires, this time in an hour long closed door session. Going into an executive session was challenged, but Commissioner Saffer said it was necessary so that they and the Sheriff could speak freely about the situation, noting that any action they took would be in open session. John Teare, legal counsel for the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association, agreed with Saffer.
“Mr. Saffer, you’re absolutely correct; not only does West Virginia code prefer personnel matters in executive session, it requires discussions on personnel matters be in executive session unless the subject requests an open meeting,” says Teare. “I would suggest to you that a wide open discussion of personnel matters without the consent of the persons that are the topic of discussion violates the law.”
Fleming reluctantly agreed to the closed door session, while going on record that he believed the deputies hire should have been approved at the February 21st meeting. Back in open session, Commissioner Saffer made a motion to officially hire Samuel Hummel and James Peteete at a beginning salary of $2050.00 and $2000.00 per month respectively, effective immediately. The motion passed on a 2 to 1 vote with Commissioner Walker opposed.
Sheriff David Jonese says both have already been through the state police academy, but must be certified by the academy for service in Pocahontas. Once certification is complete, their yearly salaries will be $25,000.00 and $24,000.00 respectively.
In other business, the Commission approved a motion to have West Virginia based Reclaim Company do an asbestos inspection and related paperwork at the East Fork Industrial Park in Frank. The inspection must be done before Elkins Metal Recycling is allowed to dismantle buildings on the site. The cost of the inspection is approximately $1000.00. Commissioner Walker opposed the motion, saying either the winning bidder should pay for it, or the project should be rebid, including the cost of the inspection.
The Commission was in agreement for a letter of support for the Droop Mountain Battle Mural project. Two murals, one depicting Confederate forces, the other Union, will be created on two buildings in the town of Marlinton to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Droop Mountain.