Donna Ward appeared before the Pocahontas County Commission March 1 for a second public meeting regarding the county’s application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for up to $250,000, which would cover the cost of demolishing the former Board of Education Building in Marlinton and disposal of the asbestos materials in the building.
Ward said the grant application will be completed and sent in this month with approval possible in late summer or early fall. Commis- sion President Walt Helmick said that timeline works out since the county hopes to have its new demolition landfill near Frank approved and operational this summer, and the demolished materials from the building, except for the asbestos, can be disposed of there.
The commission passed the needed resolutions to move forward with the grant application.
The commission received a letter from Paul Hutchinson, a Beckley Attorney representing Farm the Sun, LLC. In that letter, Hutchinson stated that his company is no longer interested in establishing a solar farm on the county owned tannery property since the site is in a high-risk flood plain.
Commissioner John Rebinski said the lot they suggested for Hutchinson’s use is not in any flood plain. The commission will invite Hutchinson Flood Plain Coordinator Don McNeel to the next meeting to clear up the matter.
Tim Thomas of the Mountain Transit Authority (or MTA) requested that the commission submit a letter committing the county’s financial support for the MTA’s Pocahontas County service for the next fiscal year. Thomas told them MTA bus usage was up 394% so far this fiscal year, and the MTA offers more service in this county than in any of its other operating areas. The commission authorized that letter.
They also approved the agreement between the 911 Center and the Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) for the 911 Center to erect a tower on PSD property in Bartow.
In response to Disability Rights, WV’s concerns about handicap access to the county’s polling places, county clerk Missy Bennett told the commission she is handling that.
In other business, the commission
• tabled action on an agreement with the WV Department of Highways regarding Linwood Alive Transportation Alternative until they learn more about this.
• set dates and times for their 2022-2023 budget work sessions as
* Monday, March 7th at 10:00 a.m.
* Tuesday, March 8th at 10:00 a.m.
* Friday, March 11th at 10:00 a.m.
• discussed two pieces of legislation working their way through the WV State Legislature:
1. A consideration of legislation for an expansion of the Resort Area District (RAD.) Helmick said he is still waiting to see what evolves in this legislation
2. The second proposed legislation, which would place a referendum on the November Election ballot, to authorize the state Legislature to do away with the Personal Property Tax. Rebinski expressed concern that passage of that referendum by the voters would seriously harm the county’s budget as well as that of the Board of Education. County assessor Johnny Pritt shared those same concerns. He said if the Personal Property Tax is eliminated, it will reduce the commission’s budget by $536,000 each year and will reduce the BOE’s budget $994,000. He said he has not been able to identify any effort by the State Legislature to replace that money to the counties.