PSD Board Member Tells County Commission Ethics Allegations Unfounded
Marlinton, WV – During Tuesday morning’s county commission meeting, Pocahontas County Public Service District Board member David Litsey defended himself against allegations that he violated ethics laws in his capacity as a PSD board member.
Five Snowshoe-area landowners and Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission, alleging that Litsey opposed a centralized sewage plant in Linwood, and advocated to keep a sewage plant on the mountain, to increase development potential of 460 acres north of Snowshoe, of which Litsey is a part-owner. Litsey said the owners planned to make the property part of Silver Creek ski resort.
“The slope system would, basically come down off the north face of Mace Knob and go down to the river,” he said. “You would have from a 1,500-foot vertical in the big bowl to a 1,700-foot vertical going down to the old English house.”
But the board member claims it would be more expedient for the Mace Knob developers to connect to the plaintiff’s preferred sewage system.
“It would be financial suicide to attempt what they were suggesting,” he said.
“If you were to run from here to there, I believe it’s something like 1.7 miles. Whereas, if you were to go up through the notch and over to the Silver Creek plant, it’s something like 3.17.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t mean to offend you, but that’s a third grade math skill and, having taught third grade, I know. You could go this way and be $4.5 million dollars cheaper than going to Silver Creek. Why somebody would do that – I don’t know.”
The Ethics Commission will not admit the existence of a case until probable cause is found. Any case for which probable cause is found is listed on the Ethics Commission website, with a scheduled hearing date. As of Thursday morning, no case involving Litsey had been listed.
Sheriff David Jonese presented a draft contract for Sheriff’s Auxiliary members to the commission for approval. The commission requested the contracts in order to implement a new purchasing card program. Commission president David Fleming reads the contract.
“I, blank, agree to perform the following contractual duties in support of the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department: inmate transports; mental hygiene transports; mental hygiene patient security; courthouse security and transport of juveniles. These duties will be performed under the approval and supervision of the Sheriff’s Department and will be compensated at a rate of eight dollars per hour. The Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department nor the County Commission will be responsible for providing any other benefits to the above-signed employee, while working under this contractual agreement.”
Commissioners Jamie Walker and Martin Saffer asked the sheriff to clarify what type of security the auxiliary is authorized to provide. The sheriff explains that auxiliary members are not authorized to have any physical contact with inmates or transportees.
“They’re not responsible to secure the individual. They’re there just to provide eyes on,” he said. “They’re in no way to get involved with any physical issues with the inmates.
“If there’s a violent inmate, a deputy goes. These are very benign situations that they transport in and they always go in pairs.”
The sheriff added that auxiliary members receive formal training from a training officer. The commission voted 3-0 to approve the contract.
After an executive session, the commission voted 3-0 to hire attorney Jason Long to represent the commission in a lawsuit filed by Jerome Heinemann. Heinemann contends the county illegally transferred land to the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. A hearing to show cause in the case is scheduled for April 11.
In other business, the County Commission:
– authorized a $15,000 expenditure for the county 4-H Camp;
– approved a letter of support for the Durbin magistrate office to the West Virginia Supreme Court;
-and approved an amendment to the county purchasing card policy.