S.A.D.D. Student Members ask Commission to declare May 17th through 23rd“National Prevention Week” in Pocahontas County.



SADD Members 5-5-15, County Commission Meeting

Pocahontas High School S.A.D.D. members after speaking to County Commissioners on 5-5-15

It was a “SADD” morning at the May 5th Pocahontas County Commission Meeting. That’s not the emotion “SAD” but rather the organization “Students Against Destructive Decisions” (S.A.D.D.).

Cheryl Jonese of the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition brought 5 students from the Pocahontas County High School Chapter of S.A.D.D. before the Commissioners to ask that May 17th through May 23rd, 2015 be officially designated as National Prevention Week. The Students were Allysa Dunbrack, Chapter President; Heather Pritt, Vice-President; Olivia Knisely, Secretary; Alexandria Platte, Treasurer; and Braxton Rider, Member.

Cheryl mentioned that S.A.D.D. originally was “Students Against Driving Drunk” but broadened its name in the late 90’s to include other destructive behaviors such as using drugs and bullying. SADD is a student run organization and a couple of the students talked to the Commissioners about it.

Alexandra Plate talked about a couple of recent S.A.D.D. projects in Pocahontas County

“”Our biggest one recently was a prom promise, and we had everyone sign a poster” said Alexandra. “And the promise was that you wouldn’t drink on prom night; you’d enjoy it; you’d make it a night to remember; and that you WOULD remember it. Another one(project) that we did, Thanksgiving and Christmas break we tied red ribbons on our cars to show that we wouldn’t drink and drive and would be above the influence and we passed them to local businesses to hand out with a little flyer.”

Olivia Knisely talked about why she got involved with S.A.D.D.

“My main thing about joining S.A.D.D. was I wanted to be a role model…a BIG role model in the school and just show everyone that you can have a fun time without drinking and being involved with drugs” said Olivia.
The Commissioners voted unanimously to proclaim May 17th through May 23rd as National Prevention Week in Pocahontas County.

Former Reporter Bill McNeal, speaking during the public input (“Hear Callers”) portion of the meeting added some thoughts about how the Commission handled the resignation of Shawn Dunbrack.

“I’m here with a concern about the resignation of Shawn Dunbrack” said McNeal …”I am concerned that there might have been a violation of the Open Meetings Act (by) accepting his resignation on that same day because it was not an agenda item. Now obviously I am not an attorney but I do have considerable familiarity with the Open Meetings Act, being a reporter for about 30 years plus, on this side of the table and then on the other side of the table, being a member of the Board of Education for 6 years. But I do think that perhaps his resignation should have been on the agenda for the following meeting.“

Commission Attorney Bob Martin disagreed with McNeal’s assessment stating that the special meeting where Mr. Dunbrack resigned was not about Mr. Dunbrack and that if any employee wants to immediately resign they can do so. Commission President Bill Beard stated that they had to accept the resignation right away since Dunbrack was quitting and the Commission needed to have someone do his job.

McNeal disagreed with both of these assessments and said the Board could have immediately given the required three days’ notice to call a special meeting to address the offered resignation.

In other actions, Cara Rose, Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau briefed the Commissioners on the upcoming Annual Tourist Luncheon and on Hospitality training being offered on May 20th and June 3rd, as well as Restaurant Skills training being offered at the Pocahontas County High School at 3:30 P.M. on May 19th.

The Commissioners questioned Rose about the use of the phrase “Birthplace of Rivers” on their website. Rose assured them that the use of that phrase does not refer to the proposed National Monument, but has always been a trademark of the County’s tourism programs. It was pointed out that the phrase also appears on the county seal used by the Commission.

Sheriff David Jonese asked for the Commission’s help in finding a space his Deputies can use as a juvenile holding area with cameras. The Commissioners agreed to consider permanent options such as the building that houses the Family Court, but voted to temporarily allow the Sheriff’s Office to use an unused office near the elevators on the 2nd floor of the Court House.

Roger Griffith of the New River Community and Technical College’s Marlinton Campus appeared before the Commissioners to answer questions the Commissioners had regarding the College’s financial statement’s discrepancies. Griffith explained that the College’s budgeting methods do not easily lend themselves to giving the kind of budget report the Commissioners want. They agreed to meet with Griffith’s boss at a future Commission meeting to see if this could be resolved.

The Commissioners received requests for donations from several groups:

Jane Huppert, Mary Johnson and Jim Johnson, representing the “Committee for the Preservation of the Pleasant Green School/Church” on Seebert Lane requested $5000 to help restore the building. When the Commission learned the building is still owned by the United Methodist Trustees, they had to decline since they cannot donate to a religious organization. They suggested the Committee obtain IRS 503(c)(3) non-profit status, then convince the Methodists to deed the church over to the Committee. Once this is done they will reconsider the donation.

The Commissioners agreed to donate $2000 to the Pocahontas County High School for the specific purpose of replacing the hard and rocky surface of the baseball field with proper dirt, which will make the field safer for players.

The Commissioners voted to donate $3000 to the Pocahontas County High School for the specific purpose of purchasing new and safer football helmets and shoulder pads for the football Warriors.

Margot Kubichek and Amanda McClure of Youth Health Services, Inc., a Non-Profit organization that provided health services in the Pocahontas County Schools during the school year, received a $2000 donation from the Commission to help them continue services during the summer.

Finally, Todd Gunter, Field Representative for Senator Shelley Moore Capito appeared before the Commissioners. Commissioner Jamie Walker asked him about the status of the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. Gunter stated that while Senator Manchin appears to be supporting the Monument, Senator Capito has not yet formed an opinion on it. He did say that as a general philosophy Senator Capito tends to allow local jurisdictions to decide on issues like that.

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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