The September 7 Pocahontas County Commission meeting was long on informal discussions, but short on actual agenda items.
Commission President Walt Helmick reported that the 2020 U.S. Census count shows the county’s population has dropped to 7,869, an 850 person decrease since the 2010 census. Helmick said that 220 inmates at the Denmar Correctional Center were counted in the census as being county residents, and that if they had not been counted, the county’s population drop would have been even greater – a drop of 1,070 residents.
Helmick said that the state will redraw the House of Delegates Districts, which will probably cause the county to have to share its two delegates differently with surrounding counties. Currently the county shares delegates with Randolph County, but that could change when the state redistricts. Helmick said a single two-delegate district requires 17,500 people, and because of the population drop, which also occurred in some adjoining counties, a single district could now consist of two, three or more counties.
Helmick also said he met with representatives from Thrasher Engineering and discussed the water and sewer engineering issues on Beard Heights.
In addition, Helmick revealed that Inter-State Hardwoods, in an effort to fill its 50-employee shortage, are using work-release inmates from the prison in Huttonsville. He said the prison and Inter-State Hardwoods worked out the details among themselves, and the Mountain Transit Authority (MTA) will transport the work-release inmates from the prison to the jobsite in Bartow and return them to the prison at the end of each day.
Also at the meeting, the commission:
• approved a request from Seneca Health Services to set-up an informational table at the courthouse from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday, September 10, to provide information and resources to the public about Suicide Prevention Week.
• scheduled a Board of Assessment Appeals session for October 5 during the regular 8:30 a.m. commission meeting.
• appointed all five county elected officials, two Magistrates, and Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton to serve on a committee for the Courthouse Annex Project, and approved a motion to seek funding sources and grants for that project.
• approved paying Thompson and Litton’s invoices for broadband consultation services from the funds contained in the Broadband Study Grant. These invoices are for services rendered from February through July, 2021 in the amount $16,316.00.
• tabled action on the proposed Frontier maintenance and service contracts for the courthouse telephone system. The Frontier representatives did not show-up for the meeting.