Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

Historic Landmarks Commission member Ruth Taylor addressed the Pocahontas County Commission during the hear caller/public input portion of the November 5 meeting.

She reported that the Landmarks Commission is having major financial issues due to expenses for repairs and maintenance at the Pocahontas County Opera House and the McGlaughlin Cabin.

Issues at the opera house include water damage, which will require some outside excavation, installation of a mandatory handicap ramp, installation of drainage, and replacement of air conditioners and furnaces. Taylor said the log cabin also needs repairs and costly maintenance.

She advised that the Landmarks Commission would attend a commission meeting in the future to ask for an additional $10,000 to cover these expenses. Taylor pointed out that the Landmarks Commission recently lost two percent of its share of the hotel/motel tax.

In other meeting actions, the commissioners approved a proposal to have Atlas Geographic, Inc. provide consulting and support for the E911 GIS program at the 911 Center. This proposal was to provide upgrades and support for $4,800 per year with that price guaranteed for five years. The other proposal came from Thrasher, who wanted to charge $6,000 per year for the same service and guaranteed that price for two years.

The commissioners open-ed the only received sealed bid for purchase of a pick-up truck to be used by Emergency Management. They approved that bid from Mitchell Chevrolet in the amount of $33,750 for a 2017 Chevy Silverado. Mike O’Brien said this vehicle will be used to move trailers and to haul supplies and not for normal day-to-day operations, unless another vehicle is out of service. It is expected that the vehicle will be paid for by the Emergency Management Grant, and the commission’s approval is contingent upon that grant paying for the vehicle. This will leave only maintenance, fuel and repair costs to be paid for by the county.

They also discussed a deed and agreement sent to them by the Public Service District which would grant the District a permanent easement at the East Fork Industrial Park. Commissioners Jesse Groseclose and Walt Helmick questioned what effect granting the easement would have on future use of this piece of county property. The matter was tabled until an engineering firm and the Durbin mayor can look into it.

The commission set the following fees/rate of compensation for fiduciary commissioners: Where there is no contest – $300 statutory rate, $75 per hour for non-lawyer fiduciaries and $150 per hour for attorneys.

The approved motion included the stipulation that Fiduciary Commissioners must come to the county commission and state why any particular estate settlement would require more time and effort than the $300 normal state statutory fee would cover. Commission counsel Bob Martin added that he has already received an inquiry from a non-lawyer, who is interested in being a Fiduciary Commissioner.

The commission approved remaining in the settlement class regarding the opioid lawsuit as proposed by a Cleveland Federal Judge. Martin said the judge wants settlements to be completed by the end of 2019.

In an unusual move, the commission unanimously voted to take action on an item which was not on this meeting agenda. They had received two bids to remove the log cabin and remediate the property they recently bought near the 911 Center. One bid was for $14,500 from RJB Contracting, although the commissioners speculated that amount might have been a misprint because they had been talking about a bid of around $4,500. They received a lower bid of $4,300 from Miller Excavation in Buckeye. They accepted and awarded the job to Miller Contracting.

In his counsel report, Martin said he had received a settlement check from the federal government from the PELT grant lawsuit where it was established that the county had been shorted for two years in the amount of PELT money it had received. The check was for $21,465, although Martin said it could have been higher had the judge not awarded unusually high attorney’s fee to be paid out of the award.

Martin advised the commission that he will be retiring from the practice of law and as counsel for the commission as of February 29, 2020.

In other business, the commission

• adopted a proclamation recognizing the 911 Public Safety telecommunications employees for what they do 24/7 to ensure the county’s safety.

• appointed Mike O’Brien, Helen Clark, Donald McNeel and Bridget Shaw to three-year terms on the 911 Advisory Board; Cristin Bartlett to a four-year term on the Farmland Protection Board; and Nancy Martin to a three-year term on the Parks and Recreation Board.

• received a quarterly update from Day Report Director Daniel Arbogast

• approved a request for $1,000 from the Marlinton Railroad Depot for materials to repair the box car at the Depot, including installing a galvanized roof. Labor to be donated.

• approved a request for $5,000 from the Child and Youth Advocacy Center to help them open a satellite office in Pocahontas County for child abuse investigations. They currently take victims to their office in Greenbrier County. They partner with law enforcement and Child Protective Services in these investigations. They also said that the child abuse rate in Pocahontas County is twice the national average, but as a result of the distance to their office in Greenbrier County, they are not seeing as many victims as they should.

In board updates

• Commission President David McLaughlin said that at the recent Towing Committee meeting only two tow company representatives and one Fire Board representative showed up and all three voted to reject the proposed change to the towing ordinance which would permit fire personnel at the scene of a needed emergency tow.

The Commissioners went into two consecutive executive sessions to discuss a response to a letter the commission received regarding Prosecuting Attorney fees. They came out of the executive session and said the only action they would take is to talk with Prosecutor Eugene Simmons, but within 30 seconds the commissioners went back into executive session to further discuss it with Simmons.

After returning from the second executive session, they announced that no action would be taken on this matter.

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