Pocahontas County Commission Welcomes New Commissioner – Walter Helmick

At their January 2nd meeting, the Pocahontas County Commission welcomed its newest Commissioner, Walt Helmick. Helmick has had a remarkable political career: He served on the Pocahontas County Board of Education from 1976 to 1978; served as a Delegate to the WV House of Delegates, as a WV State Senator; as the President of the Pocahontas County Commission from 1978 to 1989; and served as the Commissioner of the WV Department of Agriculture from 2013 to 2016.

In the near future we will be interviewing Walt so you can learn more about him as well as his priorities and goals as a new member of the current County Commission.

The Commissioners also elected David McLaughlin to serve as Commission President and as the Commission’s Purchasing Agent in 2019. They also made the following 2019 Commission Board appointments:

Commission President David McLaughlin:

  • Pocahontas County Emergency Medical Services
  • Pocahontas County 911 Advisory Board
  • Pocahontas County Local Emergency Planning Committee
  • Region 1 Local Elected Officials Board
  • Pocahontas County Fire Board

Commissioner Walt Helmick:

  • Pocahontas County Board of Health
  • Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees
  • Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation
  • Region 4 Planning & Development Authority-Executive Board

Commissioner Jesse Groseclose:

  • Pocahontas County Senior Citizens
  • Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Pocahontas County Farmland Protection Board
  • Pocahontas County Community Criminal Justice Board

Commission President McLaughlin discussed the possibility of requiring another Commissioner to second any motion. The Commission’s Counsel, Bob Martin said that the current method the commission uses to propose and vote on motions is called “Uniform Consent” and was approved the Commission in January, 2013, requiring that any such change be approved at a future meeting.

The Pocahontas County Day Report Center’s Director, Daniel Arbogast, delivered an update to the Commissioners on the Center’s operations. The general theme of his update was that the program is growing dramatically since 1917. As an example of this, he provided a report which showed that in November of 2017, the Center served 22 clients, In November of 2018, 53 clients were served. He said that the Regional Jail Fee costs saved by the Day Report Center in November of 2018 was $24,531.00 more than the program saved in November of 2017.

The Commissioners voted to approve each of the following appointments to the Local emergency Planning Committee Board:

  • Wanda Wyatt of Seneca Health Services to a three-year term.
  • Mike Holstine of the Green Bank Observatory to a two-year term.
  • John Leyzorek, Community Representative, to a two-year term.
  • John Rebinski of Cass Volunteer Fire Department to a two-year term.
  • Heather Niday of Allegheny Mountain Radio to a two-year term.
  • Leisha Cassell of the BFD Volunteer Fire Department to a two-year term.
  • Steve Tritapoe of the Frost Volunteer Fire Department to a two-year term.
  • And J.P. Duncan of the Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department to a three-year term.

The Commission’s Counsel. Bob Martin, delivered his report to the Commission in which he said the $31,000 judgement the County has been awarded for underpayments in PELT money from 2014 through 2017 should arrive within 90 days provided the Federal Government does not appeal the award. Martin said that there have been indications that the Federal government will not appeal it, but they have until January 15th to file an appeal. Martin said that Pocahontas County received the highest monetary award among all the other WV counties that were part of this class action lawsuit. He explained that the PELT money is paid to counties across the nation to help make up for the loss of tax receipts to local governments from managed timber lands owned by the Federal Government in a county. Commissioner Helmick explained that there are 312,000 acres of National Forest land located In Pocahontas County.

Martin reported that the Opioid Class Action Lawsuit that the County is a part of, is proceeding and a decision should be reached by the Federal Courts sometime this summer. He also talked about the proposed changes to the Emergency Towing Ordinance is still being discussed with the Fire Board, He needs the Board to require all Volunteer Fire Departments to adopt a uniform way to determine who is the fire department person in charge at an accident scene, before considering any amendments to the ordinance that would permit fire personnel, in addition to law enforcement, to call for an emergency tow.

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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