Pocahontas Towing Ordinance Not Amended, but Proposed Changes OK’d for 7-Month Trial
When the Pocahontas County Commission’s May 18th meeting began, all appeared to be set for the second reading and final approval of a proposed amendment to the county’s towing ordinance. The amendment would remove the current ordinances restrictions which only allow law enforcement officers to request the 911 Center to dispatch a towing company to an emergency tow.
Commissioner John Rebinski had proposed the amendment which would also allow fire and EMS to request that the next towing company on the rotation list be dispatched. Rebinski’s amendment would still retain the requirement that a law enforcement officer make the request if the vehicle owner requests a specific towing company.
The amendment had already had a first reading at an earlier meeting, however Johnny Dean and Mike Murphy, owners of two local towing companies, came to the meeting and objected to making any changes to the current towing ordinance. Their objections seemed to arise from their belief that the ordinance as currently written was working fine and eliminated any volunteer fire responders from potentially steering owners to request a towing company favored by the first responder from fire or EMS. They also were upset that the commission was changing the ordinance without first obtaining a recommendation from the towing committee established by the commission when the ordinance was first passed.
Commissioner Rebinski was clearly confused by these objections since he had written the amendment in a way that volunteers still cannot steer owners to specific towing companies and he had talked with and received the approval of the majority of the six towing companies in the county.
Commission President Helmick asked Rebinski to withdraw the amendment and replace it with a seven- month trial period after which the commission would reconsider the amendment. Rebinski did withdraw the amendment but added to his motion that fire and EMS will be allowed to call for rotational emergency tows during the trial period. That motion passed.
At the request of Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton, the commissioners agreed to write a letter of support for the Town of Marlinton’s application to seek a congressionally directed spending request to improve the town’s sewer system.
Steve Rawlings of the West Virginia Communities Risk Pool spoke to the commissioners about insurance coverage. He explained that the pool, formerly known as the WV Counties Risk Pool is the only publicly-owned insurance risk pool in the state, and now includes municipalities in addition to counties. He heard the commissioners’ complaints that the pool had denied them coverage when the court had ordered the commission to pay $24,000 to reimburse former County Prosecutor Eugene Simmons’ legal fees that he had incurred while successfully defending himself from then Commission Attorney Bob Martin’s complaint against him to the Lawyer Disciplinary Board. Rawlings explained that legal fees awarded by a court are not covered by the Risk Pool or by any other insurance companies, but would take another look at the situation since the commission was not itself a party to Martin’s complaint. The commission did vote to continue their coverage through the Risk Pool for the next fiscal year.
The commissioners took no action on the Broadband council’s request for commission approval for them to request an Ear-Mark from Senator Manchin since the Council withdrew their approval request.
In other actions, the commissioners:
- Appointed Ruth Taylor to Dramas Fairs and Festivals to a three-year term.
- Appointed David Dragan to a six-year term on the Public Service District.
- Discussed the high utility bills at the county’s ARC building, and decided to ask Mon Power to audit the power situation in the building and to consider cutting off power to unused portions of the building and possibly switching the building’s lighting to LEDs.
- Approved year-end budget revisions and resolutions to balance the budget.
The commissioners approved the payment of invoices prior to adjourning the meeting.