Upper Pocahontas Community Coalition Not opposed Demolition of Tannery Office

At the April 2nd Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Jason Bauserman and Joann Gilardi of the Upper Pocahontas Community Coalition (UPCC.) told the commissioners that after looking at the pros and cons of renovating the former Howes Tannery office building as a museum, they will no longer oppose demolishing it. Bauserman explained they reached this decision after considering the asbestos, black mold, and handicap access issues as well as at the approximately $300,000 in repairs that would be needed to make the building safe and usable.

Bauserman said the UPCC’s alternative plan would be for the commission to give them the site of the office building once it has been demolished so a one-story modern museum could be built there. He mentioned that the UPCC has been interviewing former Howes Tannery employees and videotaping their stories about working for the tannery. He said these will be saved and people visiting the future museum could watch them.

Commission President Walt Helmick said he agreed that the old building needs to be demolished because of its condition, but disagrees about building a museum on that site. Helmick said it is in such a remote area it will not attract visitors. Gilardi said they had considered that and planned to use shuttle busses from the train station in Durbin to the new museum. Helmick replied that it would make more sense to locate the museum in Durban near the train station, as it would make it easier and less expensive for visitors, and help the Town of Durban by adding a new tourism activity. He mentioned that there were some buildings in Durban that could be renovated or a new museum could be built there. Both Bauserman and Gilardi liked Helmick’s idea. Helmick suggested the museum shroud be a 1,500 square foot and only one story.  Bauserman added that is the museum is in Durban, a Mon Forest Town, there would be money available to assist the project through that program. Helmick suggested that he meet with the UPCC in Durbin next week to look at potential sites there.

The commissioners approved memorandums presented to them by Sheriff Barlow regarding courthouse security. The first one set the policy for the new courthouse security operations as well as the new policy for the use of key Fob/ Keycards for employees to be issued so they could enter the courthouse through doors which are not open to the public. The public will be required to only enter via the basement door to the right of the main courthouse front doors, where they will be screened by a metal detector and their possessions screened by X-ray. They also voted to advertise for the security officer jobs to be stationed at the public entrance. The job position lists the minimum age of an applicant to be 21 years old, with a high school diploma or GED. They must also have a clean criminal record, be in good physical shape and pass a medical exam, and be willing to attend overnight training. among other requirements.

The commissioners also voted to hire Scott Triplett as the new County Floodplain Coordinator.

They discussed with Tabbi Mann the advantages for the sheriff’s Tax Office to switch their credit card vender to Certified Payments, Inc. Mann said the primary advantages would be they will receive the money a lot faster than with their current vender. County Clerk Missy Bennett said her office will keep their current credit card vender. The commissioners voted to allow the Tax Department to switch to the new vender.

Lisa Cutlip of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (SRCD,) asked the commissioners to allow the SRCD’s new Ranger law enforcement agency to utilize the county’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and their Records Management System (RMS.) The commissioners agreed to this. This will allow that agency, which now has two full-time employees and one part-time employee, to store their police records on the county’s RMS, although different agencies of the system cannot access other agencies information. Currently the sheriff’s Department and the Marlinton Police Department can access the CAD and RMS. Cutlip also said the Rangers are willing to be a part of a mutual aid agreement with the other law enforcement agencies in the county.

911 Director Mike O’Brien showed a computer imaging program on the room’s screens which allowed the commissioners to virtually tour the proposed new 911 Center complex.

The commissioners also approved the following:

  • To transfer the Pocahontas County Broadband’s pole attachment agreements from the commission to CityNet, which will speed up the project.
  • Approved and signed four documents to advance the Howes Tannery Clean-up Project, which Amy Truesdale of Region 4 said were formalities required by the grant.
  • Approved the annual filing of fees charged by the county Health Department.
  • Signed a letter of commitment with the Mountain Transit Authority to financially support them this upcoming fiscal year.
  • They signed a letter of support for the County Ambulance Service to apply for a grant for ambulance supplies.
  • They discussed the possible new county demolition ordinance. Because a lot of people are suspicious of new ordinances especially if they equate them with possible zoning, it was decided to hold a public meeting on this ordinance in June to let the people know that the ordinance is not punitive, since it will only help people who own distressed buildings and who want to demolish them, but can’t afford to do soto receive county financial help in doing so. Commissioner Rebinski said the ordinance would not force owners to demolish any buildings on their property if they don’t want to.
  • They also discussed a possible ordinance which will correct some technical mistakes made when the EMS authority was founded in 1991. This will be discussed with the county Prosecutor before any action on it.

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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