Residents of Buckeye Appeal to Commission for Help
During the Hear Callers portion of the May 17th Pocahontas County Commission Meeting, about 5 residents of the Buckeye Community asked the commissioners for help with a crime problem. They said in the early morning hours numerous loud cars race up and down Stevens Hole Road and go to a nearby drug house, disturbing their sleep and endangering anyone walking along the road as well as their pets. The residents say their numerous pleas for help from local law-enforcement have not been addressed. The commissioners pointed out that the Sheriff is an independent elected office, but they promised to address the issue with him.
Andrew Bair, the CEO of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH,) provided a hospital update at the meeting. He said that on May 10th, he met with seven contractors who have expressed interest in bidding for the hospital’s Expansion Project in a question-and-answer session to better inform the contractors about the project. Bair said this was not a session for the contractors to actually submit bids, nor was attendance required for them to later submit a bid. Bair added that sealed bids for the project will be opened on June 14th at the Courthouse. And a recommendation for the bid award will be submitted to the commission, who will make the final selection at their June 21st meeting.
Bair also said they are considering a future strategy of putting together a Health Care Foundation with future profits from that supporting the hospital.
When Commission President Walt Helmick asked him about possibly adding a dental care component to PMH, Bair said they would support another area health care entity, possibly Community Care adding dental service, but it was not something the PMH is planning to do on its own. He did say that PMH’s EMS Unit is struggling to staff the ambulance, which is also a problem throughout the county’s EMS providers.
Lisa Cutlip, Manager of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (SRCD), asked the commissioners to write a letter of support for the resort district’s grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice Cops Hiring Program to pay 75% of a second Law enforcement Ranger’s wages and benefits for three years. She said they are hiring their first Ranger from a police department in Taylor County, but ultimately want to hire a total of two rangers for the SRCD’s new law enforcement agency. The commissioners agreed to write that letter.
Cutlip’s second request, however, was not met with such a positive response. She asked for the commission to provide the SRCD with $50,000 from their 1.6-million-dollar American Rescue Plan funds, to help buy uniforms, law enforcement equipment and squad cars for the new department. Helmick asked about how the SRCD is funded, and Cutlip said they receive about a million to a million and a half dollars from resort fees, but spend most of that supporting the Shavers Fork VFD who provide the fire and EMS services to the community. Helmick said he has a lot of concerns and questions about that and he would not make any decision to provide the county’s ARP funds to the SRCD until “we know what is going on up on the mountain.” Walt added that they will need a million dollars of those ARC funds for his Courthouse Annex Project.
The commissioners put off for now any decision about Cutlip’s request for ARC funds.
They also put off any decision on the Farm the Sun solar project contract for a solar farm on the county owned hayfield at the East fork Industrial Park, after Commissioner Groseclose brought up questions about the legality of the county leasing it’s property to a private company. And making money off that lease. They will seek a legal opinion on this.
Ruthanna Beezley, Director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation told the commissioners that their Brownfields EPA Grant application which would have funded the pollution clean-up of the Tannery property at Frank was denied. Walt said the county can do the surface clean-up but would need to reapply for that grant to do the subsurface clean-up.
Beezley also gave an update on the Edray building. She said it might be easier to lease once CityNet provides broadband service to it. She also to lease the building, they may need to split the building to accommodate two or more businesses. Helmick said since Greenbrier County has good broadband, an interstate highway and cell service, but is still losing population, why should we expect adding one of those -broadband – will help Pocahontas County retain population and a workforce increase.
The commissioners also agreed to support Cass’s application to become a “Mon-Forrest Town,” and certified the list of Delinquent Real Estate and Personal Property Tax for 2021.