Pocahontas County Not Approved for Broadband Grant
At their November 2nd meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners revealed that the county had not been awarded the long-anticipated U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Re-Connect Broadband construction grant. Instead, the USDA awarded seven point six (7.6) million dollars to City Net to install high-speed broadband in Barbour, Randolph, Webster and Doddridge counties in West Virginia. The reason given for not including Pocahontas County was that all of this year’s grant money was spent.
The county had earlier received a seventy-five thousand dollar ($75,000) broadband study grant from USDA Rural Development, which had led them to feel optimistic about obtaining the construction grant.
Chris Giannini, a homeowner on Gun Road, once again asked the commissioners to support his efforts to convince either City Net or Frontier to allow his cable installation company to connect to one of their existing fiber optic lines that are near Gun Road. Allowing him to do this at no cost would enable him to install broadband connections to the homes on Gun Road, thus creating new customers for Frontier or City Net. Giannini also suggested that the commissioners look at alternatives to the failed grant.
The commissioners passed a motion to invite Region four; the members of the County Broadband Committee; and representatives of Frontier, City Net and the Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone Company to the next commission meeting to have Region Four explain why they did not receive the grant and to explore other alternatives to bring broadband here.
The commissioners discussed the Silver Creek Association’s request to re-classify various parcels of real estate. Tina Kershner, of the Assessor’s Office, explained that this involves the tax rate classification of about twenty condominiums at the Silver Creek Association’s condo building whose owners only use personally use their condos. She said that all of the condos in the building are now taxed at class three commercial rates., regardless whether they are leased out or just privately used,
Gene Simmons, the County Prosecutor has written a letter to the Silver Creek Association telling them that the Commission cannot change a tax classification, only assessments, but have referred the case to the State Tax Commissioner.
The commissioners discussed a request by the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation (GVEDC) for them to write a letter to the Pocahontas County Board of Education (BOE) encouraging them to transfer their deed to the Slaven Property in Green Bank to the GVEDC.
Commissioner Jessie Groseclose said that what the BOE does with its own property is not the business of either the County Commission or of the GVEDC. The other commissioners agreed and no action was taken on this request.
Allen Johnson of the Eight Rivers Council; a number of residents of Mace; Shawn Cassel of Snowshoe Mountain Resort; and Cara Rose from the Convention and Visitors Bureau all spoke in opposition to the Center for Disease Control’s National Institute of Occupational Safety’s (NIOSH) proposed Underground Mine Safety Research Facility proposed for Mace, WV. They cited the damages it will cause to ground water, wells, county tourism and local communities.
Randy Sharp spoke up that if these people are really concerned with the water table in the Mace area, they would stop building homes and installing wells and septic systems there.
The commissioners voted to send a letter to the CDC asking them to stop all work at the site until NIOSH can establish that the project will not adversely affect the county economically or environmentally.
The commissioners also:
- Voted to become a partner with Work Force West Virginia’s Career Connections Program.
- They approved a contribution request from the High Rocks Educational Corporation for four thousand, five hundred and seven dollars ($4,507.00) to purchase a commercial dishwasher.
- They voted to write a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting the addition of local WV channels to Direct TV and Dish Network customers in the county. .
- Commissioner Walt Helmick said the Greenbrier Economic Development Corporation is “not functioning the way it should.”
- Commissioner Groseclose said the County Seniors are now finally financially stable.