Pocahontas Historic Landmarks Commission Supports Removing Jail from Historic Registry

At the November 2nd County Commission meeting, Jason Bauserman, Chairman of the Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks Commission was asked by Commission President Walt Helmick for the Historic Landmark Commission’s support of the County Commission’s efforts to remove the county jail’s designation on the National Registry of Historic Places. Helmick needs this done before the County Commissioners can tear it down to make room for their planned Courthouse Annex building.

Helmick explained to Bauserman that the jail was only placed on the National Registry by the County Commission back in 1994 as an afterthought to putting the Courthouse itself on the Registry.

Bauserman said he personally had mixed feelings about supporting the tearing down of another historic building in Marlinton, but the Historical Landmarks Commission did vote at their October 28th meeting to not oppose the removal of the jail from the National Registry of Historic Places.

John Leyzorek told the commissioners he was “shocked and outraged” that the Historic Landmarks “rolled over” by not opposing the preservation of this historic building. He added that building an expansion on the Courthouse is unwarranted since the county just lost ten percent of its population in the latest Census, and if they truly do need more space, there are a lot of nearby empty buildings the commission could rent or buy for a lot less money than building a new annex will cost.

Also at the meeting, Mayor Sam Felton of Marlinton commented that there were some “administrative irregularities” in the way the Commissioners selected the winning bid of Podesta Engineering to do the engineering for the Water and Sewer project on the hill near the hospital. He said that the five members of the selection panel, of which Felton as well as all three commissioners were members, subjectively scored each bidding company based on their presentations. They then added the total scores together and awarded the bid to the Podesta company because its combined scores were the highest of the three bidding companies.  However, Felton said he noticed that only one of the five panelists rated Podesta as their highest scoring bidder, while a different company was scored highest by three of the five panel members. Normally, according to Felton, the company which is scored number one by the most panel members is the winner of the bid. Despite this, the commissioners said that based upon their official vote to select Podesta, and announcing the winner, they would not change their selection now. They did agree to clarify this in future selection processes.

In other actions, the commissioners:

  • Revealed they have received a letter from the CDC informing them they have decided to go forward with building the underground mine safety research facility at Mace, WV.
  • Approved of extending the Memorandum of Understanding with the WV supreme Court of Appeals for use of the Family Court Building from 2021 through 2026 under the same terms of $11.00 per square foot.
  • Awarded the county’s heating oil contract for the next year to the only bidding company, Woodford Oil. The price for #2 heating oil will be “Marathon’s Roanoke rack price plus ten cents per gallon
  • Approved a proclamation supporting Governor Justice’s declaration of November, 2021 as being “National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
  • Received John Simmons’ annual Report of the Pocahontas County Senior Citizens which covered the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Simmons said that COVID-19 has dictated that many changes be made to their normal operations. Simmons said this was especially true since seniors were not allowed back into the Senior Centers until March 3, 2021. This reduced the number of in-house meals while increasing the number of “grab-and-go” and delivered meals.
  • Authorized County Assessor Johnny Pritt to hire Melissa Bussard as a Full-Time Deputy Assessor at $12.00 per hour plus benefits.
  • Approved a “Welcome Letter” to be included on the inside page of the Bicentennial Official Program.

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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