Pocahontas County Commission completed the second reading and then approved the Amended Towing Ordinance at its February 15 meeting. This amends the current towing ordinance to allow the Fire/EMS Incident Commander at a scene to call 911 dispatch for emergency towing of a vehicle. Towing companies are dispatched according to a rotation.
Commissioner John Rebinski explained that this only authorizes the Fire/ EMS Incident Commander to make the call if law enforcement is not yet at the scene and if the owner of the vehicle being towed does not request a particular towing company. If the vehicle owner requests a specific towing company, the Fire/EMS Incident Commander must wait for a law enforcement officer to make the call. Prior to this amendment, only law enforcement officers were allowed to contact the 911 dispatcher.
During the mail items portion of the meeting, it was revealed that the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History sent a letter in response to the proposed demolition of the county Jail Building, which has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1994.
The letter noted that the commission wants to build a new courthouse annex on that site. The letter went on to say that despite the jail being in poor shape and the fiscal infeasibility of renovating the jail building to where it could be used as a courthouse annex, and the lack of another feasible site for the new annex, it is the opinion of Arts, Culture and History that the jail building “retains sufficient integrity to remain listed in the National Registry. Therefore, the demolition of the jail will result in an adverse effect…”
The letter requested the commission to attempt to mitigate those adverse effects by submitting a full documentation of the jail by a historian or architectural historian in accordance with a Section 106 process filed with the Department of Arts, Culture and History. Commission president Walt Helmick suggested that the county obtain an estimate to document whether or not it is feasible to renovate the existing jail for use as a courthouse annex.
Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cara Rose delivered a tourism update in which she talked about the upcoming Maple Days – February 19 and March 19. She also said there will be a Bicentennial event at Huntersville Saturday, March 5. Additionally, Rose said Snowshoe Mountain Resort enjoyed a very good December, despite it being a slightly warm month with little natural snow. Rose said, over-all, the Hotel-Motel Tax revenues in the county were up 11 percent over last year.
The commissioners signed documents for and approved the application for the broadband Reconnect Grant.
The PSD conducted a public meeting for the Thornwood Waterline Project, and the commission voted to approve its application for a Small Cities Block Grant which would pay $2 million of the $3,781,000 project. The PSD indicated the remaining funds could be from a loan paid off by the customers of the project. Commissioner Rebinski suggested that the commission could possibly provide funds from the American Rescue Plan money to help with that.
Reta Griffith, director of the Day Report Center, asked for and received commission support and approval of their $99,000 Community Corrections 2023 Grant Application.
In other actions, the commission:
• received an update from the CEO of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH,) Andrew Bair, who said PMH must comply with the federal COVID mandate by March 15, and he expects that to happen. Bair also said retaining personnel is a priority for PMH. He said they plan to open a clinic in Hillsboro.
• approved spending $35,000 of Rescue Plan funds as the local 50 percent match of a $70,000 grant for Podesta Engineering to conduct a study of the Water-Sewer Project at PMH.
• discussed the requirement that they make the county’s polling places compliant with state disability/ accessibility requirements. Those include paving and marking handicapped parking spaces and providing handicapped signage.
• scheduled budget work sessions for March 8, 10 and 11, but will set the times for these at their next meeting.
• conducted the first reading of the new 911 Mapping and Addressing Ordinance, which will set procedures for naming and renaming streets.