Pocahontas County Commission Seeks Public Input On Green Bank Property
Marlinton, West Virginia – The Pocahontas County Commission wants to hear ideas for the development of 30 acres of county-owned property in Green Bank. A controversy erupted when the commission voted to transfer nine acres of the property for the expansion of Jacob and Malinda Meck’s sewage hauling and disposal business. The commission rescinded that vote on March 20.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Martin Saffer said the commission had not done a good job of soliciting other ideas for the use of the property.
“Nobody thought, ‘well, are there other ideas out there?'” he said. “It was just a sort of default position that, ‘well, nobody’s going to come forward, therefore, this is the only option.'”
Saffer suggests advertising to get public input on the use of the property.
“Let’s put a plat in the paper, and a little statement, to the effect that this property belongs to the county, and what ideas do people have for its development and use, and see what people have to say,” he said.
The commissioner says economic development includes more than factories.
“Economic development could be a park, where you get people to come to Green Bank because there’s a beautiful park, right off the edge of the road – that people can come and picnic and buy things in the store and that kind of thing,” he said. “So, economic development, to me, doesn’t have to be a shoe factory.”
Commissioner Jamie Walker says opponents of the Meck transfer likely want the property to remain unused.
“I kind of get the impression that the people that’s behind that [opposition to the Meck transfer] don’t want nothing there, period, of any kind.” he said. “A comment was made to me that the first shovel-full of dirt that was turned over, somebody would be arrested within four hours.”
The commission voted 2-0 to place an ad in the paper with a plat of the property and a request for public input. Commission president David Fleming was not present.
Three Frontier Communications executives spoke to the commission about replacing the telephone system in the courthouse. The executives said replacing the existing 23-line system would actually save the commission money. The county currently pays approximately $2,100 per month for telephone service. The executives said installation of a digital primary rate interface system would reduce the county’s monthly bill to about $1,600.
The executives recommended the county join the National Joint Powers Alliance, a public contract purchasing cooperative, to get the best price and avoid the requirement to solicit bids. Commissioners instructed commission clerk Sue Helton to obtain the free NJPA membership.
The commission has the choice to purchase the system outright for $32,000 or pay eight-percent interest over time. Saffer said he would prefer to make payments, because of additional Frontier guarantees regarding system obsolecence, that attach with the payment plan.
The item will be placed on the May 1 meeting agenda for further action.
Saffer said the company ReclaimCo had completed a study of the East Fork Industrial Park and reported the presence of asbestos. The company estimated the cost of asbestos removal at $85,000. The commission approved soliciting bids for the asbestos removal work.
The commission approved the hiring of two part-time 911 dispatchers at $8.50 per hour. 911 director Shawn Dunbrack said he had no candidates for the 911 advisory board, and that he would continue to look for volunteers.
In other business, the commission:
– approved budget revisions for the county prosecutor’s office and sheriff’s department;
– approved the levy for fiscal year 2012-2013.