Pocahontas County Commissioner Wants To Amend Courthouse Drug Policy

Marlinton, WV – A proposed change to the County drug testing policy by Pocahontas County Commissioner Martin Saffer could require some courthouse employees to be added to the random drug testing pool.

Currently only new hires, those in safety sensitive positions or those suspected of drug abuse can be tested under county policy. However, Commissioner Saffer would like to amend the policy to include anyone who uses their private vehicle for county business if they ask for mileage reimbursement. If implemented, the change would put those employees in the safety sensitive category along with law enforcement and emergency workers, subject to random drug testing. Saffer explains his reasoning for the change.

“If you are on County business, you are representing the County, you are subjecting us to liability” says Saffer. “If you have a traffic accident and the result of that is that you were intoxicated or on drugs and we’re sued for that, we’re liable.”

Pocahontas County Emergency Services Director Melvin Martin points out that some courthouse offices, such as the County Assessor, opted out of the county drug testing program. Under the proposed change, those employees may not get mileage reimbursement if they don’t agree to the safety sensitive label. After I asked Mr. Saffer if the other elected officials were aware of the proposed change, he agreed to modify his motion.

“There was an interesting point that the radio made” he says. “I would think for the purpose of what the motion should be I’ll amend the motion to say that we’re going to suggest this change and we are going to send a memorandum to all elected officials to tell them that it’ll be on the agenda for next time for final approval and if they want to come in and comment on it we’ll welcome their discussion.”

In other business, Pocahontas County School Superintendent CC Lester asked the Commissioners for support of a Prevention Resource Officer at Pocahontas County High School. Lester had worked with several PRO officers when he was a Jr. high school Principal in Richwood, and is convinced the program would be beneficial to the high school. Lester says while the PRO officer is a regular law enforcement deputy, they are not meant to be a disciplinarian.

“The PRO officer is a faculty member, a friend to these kids, whether he as a gun on his side or whether he doesn’t” says Lester. “I’ve been there, I’ve seen the changes they make in these kids. When you sit there and see the experience of these kids who went through [and] are now in criminal justice classes because of these people. If a fight breaks out, they’re like any other member of the faculty, they break it up; the gun has nothing to do with it.”

Initially the program is funded primarily through state grants. However, Lester couldn’t give the Commissioners an estimate of the amount of funding the county may have to provide. There’s also the possibility of less state funding in subsequent years. Nevertheless, Commission President David Fleming says he’s supportive of the program and asked Lester to come back to the Commission with a better idea of the county costs. The application for the PRO officer program is due by February 18th.

The Commission approved the hiring of Trent M. Herron, from Alabama, as a full time law enforcement deputy. This will bring the total number of deputies in the Pocahontas County Sheriffs office to nine. Commissioner Jamie Walker asked if any local citizens had applied. Sheriff David Jonese said they had, but Herron’s overall scores were better. He also pointed out that Herrons wife does have family in Pocahontas County.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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