Buried deep on the Pocahontas County Commission’s July 20 meeting agenda was a “general discussion” on the proposed new courthouse annex, yet it turned out to be an important insight about the commission’s intention to move forward with this project. They will start by holding an initial meeting Tuesday, August 17, during the regular commission meeting.
Commission President Walt Helmick said they have tentatively identified a site for the new annex, and will divulge that location at the August 17 meeting. He also said he wants to have all elected officials present at that meeting as well as representatives from the agencies that are now located in the basement of the courthouse basement. At that meeting they will further discuss the annex project; explain how they intend to fund the project; consider putting out a bid for an architect; and will likely agree to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Courthouse Facility Improvement Authority to get the project moving forward.
In other business, the commission approved Thompson and Litton (T&L) to use the remaining Broadband Study Grant funds of $55,333.50 to assist the Broadband Council in moving forward with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) broadband grant application. They also selected T&L to be the consultant for the ARC broadband project.
The commissioners talked with a Frontier representative about purchasing a maintenance and service plan for the courthouse phone systems. Frontier offers contracts for one year or up to five years with discounts for longer term contracts. The matter was tabled until the August 3 meeting. Commissioner John Rebinski asked why Frontier has not included residential listings in their most recent telephone books, only business numbers. Later in the meeting, the commission also voted to send a letter to Frontier voicing their strong objection to Frontier leaving residential phone numbers out of their directories. In this letter, they explained to Frontier that without adequate cell service and broadband, Pocahontas County residents are very dependent on those phone books for numbers and addresses.
In other actions at this meeting, the commission:
• voted to remove and replace the Estate Representative for both the Wilma Wilson Estate and the Jane Pitzer Estate.
• agreed to grant High Rocks an extension to purchase a new commercial dishwasher using funds the commission contributed to them last fiscal year.
• approved the 911 Center to a hire a part-time 911 dispatcher starting at $12 per hour.
• re-appointed Denise McNeel to a five-year term on the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Centers Board.
• issued an updated resolution supporting Fire Department and Rescue Squad Funding.
• issued a resolution supporting a “Special Use Permit” from the U.S. Forest Service to allow the 911 Center to improve the road through the National Forest to the Spruce Flats Emergency Communication Tower.
• discussed in Executive Session a settlement recommended by their insurance company to settle a lawsuit against the county. Then, in open session, they approved that proposed settlement.