Pocahontas County Commission Organizes Itself for the New Year

On January 5th, as its very first official act of 2016, the Pocahontas County Commissioners needed to vote to select the 2016 President of the Commission.

In today’s contentious world of politics, it was refreshing to hear the following discussion between Commissioners Bill Beard, David McLaughlin and Jamie Walker, which occurred just before their unanimous vote to reelect Beard as Commission President.

“Is there a nomination for the President of the Commission?” asked Commissioner Bill Beard.

“I move that we elect Bill (William Beard) as the President for the next year” said Walker.

“The motion has been made…let me say, I am willing to do it” said Beard. “But you gentlemen are fully capable and I sure want to give you – either one of you – the opportunity to be President. Mr. (Jamie) Walker, you have been here longer then I am and I sure want to give you a chance if you want to.”

“I think you’ve been doing a great job, I mean that’s my opinion” said Walker.

“I sure want to give Jamie (Walker) a chance” said McLaughlin. “He’s been here 5 years and I sure want to give him a chance to have his last year as President if he wanted to do it.”

“No, its fine with me, I am perfectly happy with the way it is” said Walker.

“I appreciate your encouragement for me to do it” said Beard.

“I think you’ve done a good job” said Walker

“Well, I appreciate that” said Beard.

What? Did we just hear a Democrat offer the Presidency to a Republican who turned it down in favor of the Democrat who has done a good job? Well, that’s just the way it is in Pocahontas County – at least among our Commissioners.

After selecting Bill Beard once again as its President, the Commissioners voted to keep their current assignments to each of the Commission appointed Boards.

In other actions:

  • The Commissioners voted to accept the only bid to supply gasoline to the Courthouse agencies in 2016 – that was from Woodford Oil Company of Marlinton. Woodford agreed to supply gasoline at a cost of the Marathon Oil rack price plus 15 cents per gallon delivery charge. Under that pricing method, gasoline supplied today would cost about $1.43 per gallon plus tax. Of course, the price could rise of fall as the rack price changes.
  • They received annual updates from BJ Gudmundsson representing “Preserving Pocahontas” and from Charlotte Slagle representing the “Pocahontas County Artisans Co-op.”
  • They received an update from Cara Rose, the Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • The Commissioners voted to support Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s letter of support for West Virginia Rural Health Clinic’s Performance Improvement Network.
  • The Commissioners discussed the lease agreement with Interstate Hardwoods over a small building and 1.32 acres of land which was formerly Howe’s Leather tannery that the county now owns in Frank, WV. Interstate indicated it did not wish to extend the lease at the current rate. The Commission Counsel advised we should not lease it anyway because of tax issues similar to the ones that happened in the Former Shoe Factory. The Commissioners agreed to approach Interstate with a proposal that they can use the property in return for maintaining and insuring the building and land.
  • They heard from Mike Cain, Courthouse Maintenance and Mike O’Brien, 911 and Emergency Services Director about the legal requirement that the fire alarm systems in each of the Courthouse complex’s buildings be tested and inspected annually. Two companied bid on this, but the Commissioners voted to hire Simplex to do the job for $2000 rather than another company who quoted which was for $3049.00. These were the only two properly certified and bonded companies located.
  • The Commission’s Counsel, Bob Martin, reported that the State Tax Department denied the Commission’s request that they not lift the Tax Exemption status for the Former Shoe Factory. The exemption was lifted due to part of the building being leased out to a private business. The lease was terminated at the end of the last fiscal year, so the tax exemption will be restored for the current year. Martin also reported there are currently two law suits filed against the County. Additionally, Martin reported he addressed concerns of the Farmland Protection Board that the law creating the Board had been repealed. Martin said a new law replaced the repealed law and the Farmland Protection Board still has the legal authority to act under the new law.
  • Sheriff Jonese and Counsel Martin briefed the Commissioners on the status of the contract with Snowshoe Mountain Resort to have the Sheriff’s department provide security at the resort. They reported that the contract has been revised and is awaiting formal approval by the resort, which is expected within a few days. They will present the completed lease to the Commissioners for approval at the next Commission meeting.

The meeting ended with an executive session on a personnel matter which would not be needed to be voted upon at this time.

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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