Pocahontas County Commission Puts Off Creation Of Community Planning Task Force
Marlinton,WV – During the July edition of Commissioners Corner on AMR, Pocahontas County Commissioner Martin Saffer and Commissioner Reta Griffith agreed that this may not be the best time to establish a community planning task force to look at comprehensive planning for Pocahontas. During the County Commission meeting Tuesday, others including Commissioner David Fleming offered a different viewpoint.
Fleming, who was unavailable for the Commissioner Corner program, says the county is fortunate to have several civic-minded groups already talking about planning particular to their interests. But he says that shouldn’t preclude government involvement.
Fleming says planning was one of the topics he focused on during his campaign for his County Commission seat. He sees his election victory as sign of the desire of Pocahontas County residents for government involvement in the planning process. But Saffer says Fleming shouldn’t view his election as a mandate for planning.
Marlinton Mayor Dennis Driscoll spoke about a similar situation he witnessed in his native Rhode Island in a community that grew from 5000 to over 21,000 people in just 20 years. He says the rural community faced the same questions about land use, but didn’t address them because of controversy. He says they later regretted their lack of planning.
County Coordinator Jay Miller also acknowledges this may not be the time to discuss a county level comprehensive plan. But he supports Fleming’s idea of some direction from the county government.
“Unless we can arrest the decline of population and jobs, that there is no real prospect of improving those other things” says Miller. “Those are the really big issues that can’t be dealt with from the bottom up.”
He says that’s why he advocates some kind of macro top down planning process, starting with the County Commission.
In other business, the Commissioners approved the hiring of James McLaughlin as a part time custodian/maintenance employee working with Courthouse custodian Garry McClure. They declined to approve hiring Sarah Shearer as a full time deputy clerk in the County Clerk’s office, citing budgetary concerns and a reluctance to approve a full time position so close to the upcoming general election. Current County Clerk Sandra Friel is not seeking re-election to this office in November.