Pocahontas County Commissioners Pass Amendments to Towing Ordinance
At the February 15th Pocahontas County Commission meeting, the commissioners completed the second reading of, then passed the Second Amended Towing Ordinance. This amends the current towing ordinance to allow the Fire/EMS Incident Commander at a scene which requires an emergency towing of a vehicle to call the 911 dispatcher to dispatch the next towing company on the rotational list. Commissioner John Rebinski explained that this only authorizes the Fire/EMS Incident Commander to make this call if law enforcement is not yet at the scene and if the owner of the vehicle being towed does not request a particular towing company to remove their vehicle. If the vehicle owner requests a specific towing company, the Fire/EMS Incident Commander must wait for a law enforcement officer to make the call. Prior to this amendment, the ordinance only allowed a law enforcement officer to make the call to the 911 dispatcher.
During the mail items portion of the meeting, it was revealed that the WV Department of Arts, Culture and History sent a letter of response to the commissioners regarding the proposed demolition of the County Jail Building, which has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1994. The letter noted that the commission wants to build a new courthouse annex on that site. The letter went on to say that despite the jail being in poor shape and the fiscal infeasibility of renovating the jail building to where it could be used as a courthouse annex, and the lack of another feasible site for the new annex, it is the opinion of Arts, Culture and History that the jail building “retains sufficient integrity to remain listed in the National Registry. Therefore, the demolition of the jail will result in an adverse effect…”
The letter requested the commission to attempt to mitigate those adverse effects by submitting a full documentation of the jail by a historian or architectural historian in accordance with a Section 106 process filed with the Department of Arts, Culture and History. Commissioner Helmick suggested that the county obtain an estimate to document whether or not it is feasible to renovate the existing jail for use as a courthouse annex.
Cara Rose delivered a tourism update in which she talked about Maple Days occurring on February 19th and March 19th. She also said there will be a Bicentennial event at Huntersville on Saturday, March 5th. Additionally, Rose said Snowshoe Mountain Resort enjoyed a very good December, despite it being a slightly warm month with little natural snow. Overall, she said the Hotel-Motel Tax revenues in the county were up 11% over last year.
The commissioners signed documents for and approved the application for the broadband Reconnect Grant.
The PSD conducted a public meeting for the Thornwood Waterline Project, and the commissioners voted to approve their application for a Small Cities Block Grant which would pay two-million dollars of the three-million, seven hundred- and eighty-one-thousand-dollar project. The PSD indicated the remaining funds could be from a loan paid off by the customers of the project. Commissioner Rebinski suggested that possibly the commission could provide funds from their American Rescue Plan money to help with that.
Rita Griffith of the Day Report Center asked for and received commission support and approval of their $99,000 Community Corrections 2023 Grant Application.
In other actions, the commissioners:
- Received an update from the CEO of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH,) Andrew Bair, who said PMH must comply with the federal COVID mandate by March 15th, and he expects that to happen. Bair also said retaining personnel is a priority for PMH. He said they plan to open a Hillsboro Clinic Financially, Bair said, they had a good 1st quarter this fiscal year, but a not so good 2nd quarter, but added that things are looking up in this new 3rd
- They approved spending $35,000 of Rescue Plan funds as the local 50% match of a $70,000 grant for Podesta Engineering to conduct a study of the Water-Sewer Project at PMH.
- They discussed the requirement that they make the county’s polling places compliant with State disability accessibility requirements. Those include paving and marking handicapped parking spaces and providing handicapped signage.
- They scheduled budget work sessions for March 8th, 10th and 11th, but will set the times for these at their next meeting.
- In a final action, they conducted the first reading of the new 911 Mapping and Addressing Ordinance, which will set procedures for naming and renaming streets.