Commission allocates COVID-19 Block Grant

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

The Pocahontas County Commission took time Tuesday morning to consider how to best allocate the remaining $75,000 of the Governor’s $100,000 Block Grant for COVID-19 related expenses. The deadline for spending the money is December 31.

The commission first committed $5,000 to protect courthouse personnel from infection, which includes nearly $4,000 to erect a “people barrier” in front of the door to the Assessor’s Office to prevent the public from freely walking in.

Commissioner Walt Helmick suggested that $10,000 be held back until nearer the December 31 deadline for any health-related emergencies that might arise.

Next, they heard from the mayors of the three incorporated towns in the county – Marlinton, Durbin and Hillsboro – who presented ideas such as:

• Hillsboro: The need for a part-time secretary to handle COVID related paperwork.

• Marlinton: The need for an improved audio/visual system to allow the public to better hear town council and other virtual meetings; equipment to check temperatures of people entering town meetings; additional personal protection equipment for town employees; and funds to make up for lost revenues for water and sewer due to the COVID-19 related ban on suspending service when customers don’t pay their bills.

• Durbin: The mayor submitted a written request for $3,320 for various COVID-19 expenses.

Hillsboro and Marlinton mayors did not request a specific amount.

The commission voted to offer $10,000 to each of the three towns at this time, however it will be payable only when the towns submit invoices to the commission for each of their proposed purchases. This reduces the available uncommitted funds in the grant to $30,000. They said the remaining monies would go to the towns at a later date.

The commission voted to spend up to $1,700 each for two hand-held automatic sanitizing foggers to cleanse and disinfect the courthouse and other county buildings and vehicles. This money will come out of the $10,000 of the block grant funds they had set aside for emergencies.

They voted to renew the lease, at $250 per month, with the West Virginia Division of Forestry for that agency to continue to use office space at the ARC building.

They tabled until next month a letter of support for the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. This was about the GVEDC selling the board of education’s Green Bank property (aka the Slaven Property) to Jacob Meck. The commissioners delayed action on this because they wanted input from the board of education before writing a letter.

They voted to keep the GVEDC as the lead economic development agency for the county for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

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