Proposed PMH Vaccine Mandate Discussed by County Commissioners

This is the second part of our story about the December 7th Pocahontas County Commission meeting.

The commissioners discussed an email received concerning the proposed Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s Vaccine Mandate for employees. Commission President Walt Helmick, who sits on the hospital’s board, said this is a very controversial issue with many of the vaccinated hospital staff being pitted against many of the unvaccinated staff, He said the Hospital Board spent four hours discussing this issue last week.

Helmick said the Biden Administration’s mandatory vaccine mandate for all health care employees working at hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid money is currently on hold because of a Federal Judge’s order, so no decision needs to be made on this right now. Helmick said that if that order changes, it will be the commission – the owner of the hospital – who will make the ultimate decision about any vaccine mandate.

Also at this meeting, Cara Rose asked for and received the commission’s support for their $5,000,00 Make it Shine Grant application to clean litter from the county roadways. She also briefed the commissioners about changes to the way the Hotel-Motel Tax will be collected beginning in January. We will air an interview with Rose later explaining this.

The commissioners voted to close out estates older than 3 years that have not responded to notices sent to them. This became possible due to relatively new legislation passed in Charleston.

The commissioners voted to renew the WV Division of Forestry’s lease at the Former Shoe Factory Building, but at an increased monthly lease rate of $500.00 instead of the current $250.00 per month. He said the Division of Forestry has indicated that this is acceptable to them.

Bob sheets of the Historic Landmarks Commission delivered an update to the commissioners about the projects the Landmarks Commission is working on.

Jim Jackson, the new Green Bank Observatory Director introduced himself to the commissioners. He said he was originally from Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State then from MIT with a graduate degree. He has worked at an observatory in California and lived in Australia and is now excited to be here. Jackson said there is a lot of new science being done at the GBO, including determining gravity wave mass by using pulsars. He said the GBO has received increased funding by the National Science Foundation and hopes to solidify its own contract funding.

Jackson said they are looking at adding new capacities and instruments including radar technology, and hopes to repaint and repair an aging Green Bank Telescope.

He said he also hopes to work closer with the community, and is open to compromising on the Quiet Zone restrictions if it helps the community, and has already reached an agreement with the 911 Center regarding improvement of emergency radio communications

Commissioner Rebinski indicated that he has been unhappy over the news coverage he has received, and over a letter to the editor of the Pocahontas Times sent by Jay Miller criticizing his handling of the Family Resource Network’s request to receive American Rescue Plan reimbursement funding for the money lost to them because of the COVID Pandemic in 2020.

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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