During the Hear Callers portion of the May 17 Pocahontas County Commission Meeting, about five residents of the Buckeye Community asked the commission for help with a crime problem. They said in the early morning hours numerous loud cars race up and down Steven Hole Road and go to a nearby drug house, disturbing their sleep and endangering anyone walking along the road as well as their pets. The residents say their numerous pleas for help from local law-enforcement have not been addressed.
The commission pointed out that the Sheriff is an independent elected office, but they promised to address the issue with him.
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital CEO Andrew Bair advised the commission that he had a question-and-answer session with seven contractors who have expressed interest in bidding for the hospital’s Expansion Project. Bair said this was not a session for the contractors to actually submit bids, nor was attendance required for them to later submit a bid. Bair added that sealed bids for the project will be opened June 14 at the courthouse, after which, a recommendation for the bid award will be submitted to the commission for the final selection to be announced at its June 21 meeting.
Bair also said they are considering putting together a Health Care Foundation with future profits from it supporting the hospital.
Commission President Walt Helmick asked about the possibility of adding a dental care component to PMH. Bair said they would support another area healthcare entity, possibly Community Care adding dental service, but it was not something PMH is planning to do on its own.
Bair also said PMH’s EMS Unit is struggling to staff its ambulance – a problem throughout the county for EMS providers.
Lisa Cutlip, Manager of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (SRCD), asked the commission to write a letter of support for the resort district’s grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice Cops Hiring Program to pay 75 percent of a second law enforcement Ranger’s wages and benefits for three years. She said they are hiring their first Ranger from a police department in Taylor County, but ultimately want to hire two rangers for the SRCD’s new law enforcement agency. The commission agreed to write that letter.
Cutlip’s second request, however, was not met with such a positive response. She asked the commission to provide the SRCD with $50,000 from its $1.6-million American Rescue Plan funds, to help buy uniforms, law enforcement equipment and squad cars for the new department. Helmick asked how the SRCD is funded, and Cutlip said they receive about a $1-million to $1.5-million from resort fees, but spend most of that supporting the Shavers Fork VFD that provides fire and EMS services to the community. Helmick said he has a lot of concerns and questions about that and he would not make any decision to provide the county’s ARP funds to the SRCD until “we know what is going on up on the mountain.” Helmick added that they will need $1-million of the ARC funds for the Courthouse Annex Project.
The commission put off any decision on Cutlip’s request for ARC funds.
They also put off any decision on the Farm the Sun solar project contract for a solar farm on the county owned hayfield at the East Fork Industrial Park, after Commission Jesse Groseclose brought up questions about the legality of the county leasing its property to a private company – and making money off that lease. They will seek a legal opinion on this.
Ruthanna Beezley, Director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, told the commission that their Brownfields EPA Grant application, which would have funded the pollution clean-up of the Tannery property at Frank, was denied. Helmick said the county can do the surface clean-up but would need to reapply for that grant to do the subsurface clean-up.
Beezley also gave an update on the building at the Edray Industrial Park. She said it might be easier to lease once CityNet provides broadband service to it. She also said that to lease the building, they may need to divide the space to accommodate two or more businesses. Helmick said since Greenbrier County has good broadband, an interstate highway and cell service, but is still losing population, why should we expect adding one of those – broadband – will help Pocahontas County retain population and increase the workforce.
In other business, the commission
• agreed to support Cass’ application to become a “Mon-Forest Town”
• certified the list of Delinquent Real Estate and Personal Property Tax for 2021.