With Three Meetings in One Week, Pocahontas Commission was Very Busy
On Tuesday, April 20th, the Pocahontas County Commission held a Special Meeting at 3:30 pm during which they interviewed four Architectural-Engineering companies that are bidding to design a building to be built on a site near Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) which will house both the Emergency Management/911 Center and PMH’s ambulance operations. At a prior meeting, the commissioners had reviewed a large number of bids from companies seeking to do this, and had selected four of those to be interviewed.
The four companies interviewed were:
- Becker Morgan Group
- Pickering Associates
- WYK Associates
Following these interviews, the commissioners decided to make their final selection at a special meeting at 9:00 am of Friday, April 23rd.
The April 20th regular meeting followed the special meeting After regular opening procedures the commissioners officially laid the 2021-2022 fiscal year tax levy, then received a report from Jack Tribble, the Greenbrier District Ranger for the Monongahela National Forest. Tribble said timber production is on the rise. Ten years ago, he said, there were nine to ten million board feet of timber harvested, last year twenty-four million and this year over thirty million board feet has been harvested. Regarding recreational use, Tribble said they are working closely with the Snowshoe-Highlands IMBA Mountain biking Ride Center to expand trails in the Mon Forest in both the north part of the county and in the Marlinton area.
Cara Rose briefed the commissioners on the “Make it Shine” road litter clean-up program, and the commissioners agreed to donate $2,500.00 to expand the miles of road to be cleaned up by an additional twenty-five miles beyond the original one-hundred miles of roadway the program had included.
They held a discussion about continuing their $25,000 annual contribution to the Mountain Transit Authority (MTA) which is used as a local match by the MTA to obtain a larger Federal/State Grant to operate public transit in Pocahontas County, but tabled making a decision on this until their April 23rd Special Session.
The commissioners agreed to a proposal by Commission President Walt Helmick to purchase back from Seneca Health Services a 2.8-acre lot near PMH that the PMH had sold to Seneca in 1995 for $35,000. The commissioners agreed to offer $60,000 to Seneca for the lot. Commissioner Helmick said the site would be a good location for an assisted living facility in the future to be run by either PMH or preferably by a private firm.
They conducted a first reading of proposed amendments to the County Towing Ordinance, which would allow Fire and EMS responders in addition to law enforcement officers to call the 911 center to dispatch the next tow truck on the rotation to respond to an emergency tow. The second reading will occur at the commission’s May18th meeting.
The commissioners discussed possible locations to relocate the green box trash location to in Bartow, since the lease to the current site is expiring in June. They decided to take another look at possible sites before making any decision on this.
They voted to pay former County Prosecutor Eugene Simmons $24,286,64 as ordered by the Circuit Court Judge for half of Simmons’ lawyer costs for successfully defending himself against complaints made against him to the State Lawyer Disciplinary Board by Attorney Bob Martin. Martin was employed as the commission’s Attorney at that time. The commission had unsuccessfully argued to the Circuit Court that Martin had filed his complaint against Simmons without receiving authorization to do so by the commission so was therefore acting as a private citizen and therefore the taxpayers of the county should not have to pay Simmons’ legal fees. However, since the judge ruled that the county must pay half of those legal fees, and since the only other option would be to appeal the judge’s ruling to the WV Supreme Court which would be expensive with no guarantee of success; the commissioners reluctantly voted to comply with the ruling and pay Simmons.
The commissioners also voted to approve a $5,275.00 Budget Revision for the animal shelter and authorized 911 Director to pay for repairs to the Courthouse camera system as viewed at the 911 Center.
They tabled the agenda item dealing with the Frank Tannery Building to their next regular meeting on May 4th and the agenda item regarding opening the bids for Broadband consulting services to the April 23rd special meeting.
At the April 23rd special meeting, after hearing several emails from the public; from Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton; and from Tim Thomas, the General Manager of the MTA, the commissioners voted to support the MTA transit service in the county for the next year by contributing $25,000 for them to use as a local match on Federal and State grants.
They also selected WYK Associates’ proposal to provide Architectural and engineering services for the new 911 and Emergency Management facility to be built near PMH.
Finally, at that special meeting, the commissioners opened the proposals for Broadband consulting services but turned them over to the county Broadband Committee to examine and make a recommendation on.