Published On: Wed, Dec 4th, 2013

County commission debates Pocahontas Woods takeover

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The Pocahontas County Commission will choose one of these five designs for a county seal during its meeting on December 17. The designs were submitted by: Top row, left to right: R. Hunter Hurt and Lucinda Tyler; Bottom row, left to right: Vang Vanmany, Patricia Cochran and Larry C. Taylor.

The Pocahontas County Commission will choose one of these five designs for a county seal during its meeting on December 17. The designs were submitted by: Top row, left to right: R. Hunter Hurt and Lucinda Tyler; Bottom row, left to right: Vang Vanmany, Patricia Cochran and Larry C. Taylor.

Pocahontas Woods, a non-profit woodworking facility in Marlinton, shut down in August, as its operating expenses outpaced income. The Pocahontas Woods board is considering different options for the disposition of its building on Third Avenue and the collection of woodworking and other equipment inside.

During the December 3 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Pocahontas Woods board members Margaret Worth and Gibbs Kinderman updated the commission on possible options, and asked the commission for a timely decision on whether the county wants to take over the facility.

Worth said options include transferring the building and equipment to the Board of Education or the county commission; auctioning the building and equipment and distributing proceeds to non-profits with similar missions; and auctioning just the equipment and transferring the building to the county or Board of Education. Worth asked for a timely decision, due to continuing financial obligations and dwindling funds.

“We do have to make a decision, because it’s $656 every three months just for the insurance,” she said. “We’re still keeping the electricity on and we don’t have the manpower to keep an empty building running. It’s becoming a burden.”

Commissioner David Fleming supported county ownership of the building.

“I think we should take the building, myself,” he said.

Fleming said the building could house a local foods facility.

“Each county could possibly have what’s called a ‘pad,’” he said. “It’s produce, aggregation and delivery – I can’t remember what it stands for – but it would sort of fit into the vision of what [Agriculture] Commissioner Helmick has in mind for local foods in this area.”

Commissioner Jamie Walker said the county already owns vacant building space.

“At this point, I don’t really see where we would benefit by having more property, if we don’t have no plan to put nothing in there,” he said. “It’s just an extra bill on the county that we’re going to have to pick up. We’ve got the ARC building, still empty, the main section of it. So, I’m not necessarily in favor of picking it up, at this point, with no intention of putting anything in there. Especially if you can auction it off and give somebody else a chance to put a business in there.”

Commissioner William Beard said a private business would provide tax revenue.

“If there’s somebody that would be interested in buying it and putting it back on the tax basis, and using it for a business as soon as possible, that would suit my feelings a little better,” he said.

The commission will consider accepting ownership of Pocahontas Woods during its regular meeting on December 17.

The commission unanimously approved an update to its contribution grant policy, to include governmental entities as grantees. Under the new policy, government bodies will be required to submit a statement of public purpose in a grant request.

Following approval of the policy update, the commission granted $10,000 to the Board of Education, which will be used for construction of a restroom facility at the Pocahontas County High School baseball field.

The commission also granted $10,000 to the Linwood Alive group to be used for the construction of a farmers’ market and community-use pavilion in Linwood. The non-profit Pocahontas Mountain Bike Association (PMBA) accepted the donation on behalf of Linwood Alive, which has not yet obtained non-profit status. The donation will not be paid until PMBA provides certification of its non-profit status.

The commission reviewed submissions for a contest to design a Pocahontas County seal. Five serious submissions were received from Larry C. Taylor, R. Hunter Hurt; Vong Vanmany, Patricia Cochran and Lucinda Tyler. Comical/satirical designs were received from Laurie Cameron and an anonymous entrant. The commission will choose a design during its December 17 meeting, and the winner will receive a $500 award, donated by Robert and Melanie Martin.

The commission approved the employment of Tammy Alderman as Community Corrections director, at a salary of $30,000, with full benefits. The commission also approved the hiring of Jeff Barlow, as the Day Report Center officer, at a salary of $25,000, with full benefits. Alderman replaces Robert Tooze, who accepted a job in Greenbrier County. Barlow replaces Chuck Alexander, who now works for the Sheriff’s Department.

During commission board updates, Beard, a member of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation board, said a brewery will be opening in the Rahall Building in Maxwelton, providing more area jobs. Beard said another business – a flooring manufacturer – was in negotiations to lease 20,000 square feet in the same building.

The next Pocahontas County Commission regular meeting is scheduled for December 17 at 5:30 p.m.

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com