Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Atlantic Coast Pipeline community liaison Denise Campbell addressed the board with information concerning the upcoming construction of the pipeline through Pocahontas County.

Campbell’s position with the ACP is to ensure the community is well-informed about construction activities and if it will hinder normal life in the county, including traffic patterns.

“My goal with being the community liaison is, as activities happen with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, that I stay in contact with [superintendent Terrence Beam], with Sherry [Radcliff], with the transportation director and let the board of education know where we are in the process of [the pipeline] to be sure that we aren’t interrupting bus routes,” Campbell said. “If there is something going on near where children are going to be catching the bus, I’m going to be ahead of the game and calling Mr. Beam.”

Campbell gave an update on the progress of the project, stating that there are a couple more permits to be approved before work can begin in Pocahontas County.

“Currently in Pocahontas County, there is no tree felling going on, but it is anticipated that tree felling will start approximately the first of March,” she said. “The ultimate goal is that construction will begin in the spring.”

The 600 mile pipeline will travel from Harrison County into Lewis, Upshur and Randolph counties before entering Pocahontas County. From there, the pipeline will go into Highland, Bath and other counties in Virginia and south into North Carolina.

After the pipeline is complete in late 2019, as estimated, Campbell said Pocahontas County will receive an increase in tax revenue from the project.

“Pocahontas County is looking at a little over one million dollars in tax revenue per year once the pipeline is complete,” she said.

Campbell thanked the board for giving her the opportunity to speak and shared her contact information, stating that she is open to any questions. She will continue to keep the board up-to-date as the project moves forward.

The board thanked Campbell for the information she provided.

In updates:

• Teachers Denise Sharp and Kathy White, and classroom aide Tina Sharp, who are also union representatives for West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, West Virginia Education Association and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, approached the board with information concerning the current legislative session and possibilities of a work stoppage in schools state-wide.

White explained that the work stoppage or walk-outs that have happened in the state were decided on the county level and not state regulated. The representatives said that all three groups have given authorization for every school in the state to vote, by ballot, on what the state action should be – whether or not there should be a work stoppage.

The work stoppage issue began with the proposed changes to PEIA insurance costs, as well as the proposed one percent raise for all state employees.

White added that school employees are not the only people affected by the proposed PEIA changes. All state employees have a dog in the fight.

They asked if it would be possible to hold the county-wide vote – for union and non-union members – during a school day to ensure that all employees have a chance to vote. Denise and White both asked to be available to all five schools during the day to explain the ballot before the vote is held.

Because the issue was not on the agenda as a voting item, the board was unable to give approval. Instead, the board asked Beam to check the legality of having the vote during school and report to the representatives.

• Beam gave an update on his progress concerning the future of Marlinton Elementary School. Beam brought up his goal to keep MES in the town of Marlinton at the last board meeting and, since then, has met with Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton to discuss ideas on keeping the school at its current location or in town in another location.

For Beam’s update, see separate story on page 1.

Community members Jay Miller and John Burns thanked Beam for examining the issue of MES and for looking at ways to keep the school in town.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Annual less than $20,000 Bingo license issues to Marlinton Middle School pursuant to W.Va. Code 47-20, retroactive to January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Resignation of Susan E. Herold, due to retirement, as librarian/media specialist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to the end of the day on January 31.

• Employment of Martha Friel as cook II at Pocahontas County High School, effective February 7 for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 79 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Employment of Diane Arbogast as substitute aide, cook, custodian and secretary/accountant, effective February 7 for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

The next board meeting is Monday, February 19, at 6 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com