On Tuesday, February 16, the Pocahontas County Commission gathered for its regularly scheduled meeting to discuss a number of issues – including the Memorandum of Understanding with the Greenbrier County Day Report Center.
During its February 9 meeting, the commission heard from the Honorable Judge James J. Rowe, Greenbrier County Day Report Director Laura Legg and Chief Probation Officer for the 11th Circuit Tonya Hoover concerning the future of the Pocahontas County Day Report Center. By the end of the meeting, a motion was passed to draft a Memorandum of Understanding between the two counties to be discussed at the next meeting.
The Memorandum of Understanding stated that the Pocahontas County Day Report would move away from the Randolph County Community Corrections Program and join with the Community Corrections Program of Greenbrier County for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year.
Commission attorney Bob Martin began the February 16 discussion with an update on the current state of the program. According to his report, the Pocahontas County Day Report Center’s employees have resigned since the commission’s decision to consider the memorandum.
In an attempt to keep the program’s 11 participants going forward, Martin and Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese have found a temporary solution for the next two months. Fellow officers Robin Robertson and Josh Vaughan will work with the participants, while Pocahontas County Prevention Coordinator and certified therapist Cheryl Jonese serves as the program’s temporary therapist.
“They’re operating well,” Martin said, “and I believe I’ve given us enough lead time to determine what the commission’s going to do before we start having to make any more changes with regard to staff.”
Martin went on to explain that the commission had three options available to them: resume working with Randolph County; allow Greenbrier County to oversee their operations; or strike out on their own.
Upon reviewing the proposed memorandum, the commission took a moment to discuss the possibility of striking out on their own.
“I’ve spoken with three different counties,” Commissioner Jamie Walker said, “and they were all more than pleased that they went on their own.”
Walker went on to explain that, by branching out on their own, the county would have the ability to control what went on within the program – including how the county’s money is spent and the hiring of employees – and that judges would be able to make recommendations and changes according to the county’s needs.
“I agree with Jamie,” Commission President Bill Beard added. “I talked to the commissioner from Nicholas County, and he said that going independent was one of the better things they did.”
Rather than join the Greenbrier County Day Report Center, the commission plans to apply for its own grant to run the Pocahontas County Community Corrections Program, as well as form a local Advisory Board to help oversee it.
A motion was made to reject the Memorandum of Understanding with the Greenbrier County Day Report Center, and the commission passed it unanimously.
In other news:
Grazia Apolinares, of Pocahontas County’s Water Resources Management Task Force, presented the commission with an annual update. In her update, Apolinares discussed the program’s activities – from June 2015 to the present – as well as the program’s current projects – such as the Baseline Stream Monitoring Plan, the Well Water Clinic and the Knapps Creek Septic System Project. A “State of the County Waters” report will be released in June.
The commission received and accepted a bid from Mitchell Chevrolet for the purchase of a used 2015 Jeep Patriot Sport 4×4 to be used as the Process Server Vehicle. The Jeep has 24,400 miles and will cost $16,570 after trade-in.
The commission approved Pocahontas County Clerk Melissa Bennett’s request to relocate county records older than 1900 to the West Virginia Department of Culture and History in Charleston. Bennett requested the relocation due to a lack of storage space within the Pocahontas County Courthouse.
Revisions to the Law Enforcement Capital Outlay, Emergency Management and Water Task Force budgets were unanimously approved.
The commission appointed the following to the Local Emergency Planning Committee for three year terms:
• Preston Cline, of Snowshoe Mountain Resort, expiring 09/30/2016
• J.P. Duncan, of Marlinton Fire and Rescue, expiring 09/30/2018
• Jaynell Graham, of The Pocahontas Times, expiring 09/30/2017
• Barbara Lay, of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, expiring 09/30/2016
• Steve Tritapoe, of the Frost Fire Department, expiring 09/30/2018
• Cindy Wilfong, of the Pocahontas County Health Department, expiring 09/30/2016
• Randy Wilfong, II, of Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue, expiring 09/30/2017
• Wanda Wyatt, of Seneca Mental Health, expiring 09/30/2018
A special County Commission meeting will be held Monday, February 22, at 2 p.m. to discuss the creation and appointment of a Local Community Criminal Justice Board and its members; an agreement between the commission and Inter-State Hardwoods concerning an East Fork Industrial Park building; and the adoption of a resolution requiring background checks to be conducted prior to the hiring of new county employees.
The next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for March 1, 2016, at 8:30 a.m.