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Commission distributes funds in uncertain times

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

Six non-profit organizations requested contributions from the Hotel/Motel Tax at the August 4 Pocahontas County Commission meeting.

Those requests totaled $26,500, and commissioner Walt Helmick recommended that they each be fully approved.

Because of economic issues in the county caused by COVID-19, the county has experienced a downturn in revenue, and for this fiscal year, at least, they reduced the amount in their budget for these funding requests from $75,000 to $50,000. This is the first of four quarterly commission meetings in which non-profit organizations, as well as such entities as Parks and Recreation and the Historic Landmarks Commission, can request contributions or funding from the commission.

This reduction in funding means just $23,500 will be available for distribution for the rest of the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Those receiving funding at the August 4 meeting were:

• The Appalachian Mountain Man-Trailing & Rescue, a non-profit in Durbin that rescues hounds, especially Blood Hounds, and trains them for tracking missing persons and rescue. Sandy Weik, who runs their shelter, said they have donated trained dogs to sheriff’s departments and other rescue organizations. The money will be used for care of the dogs. Weik asked for and received $5,000.

• Mary Dawson, representing the Watoga State Park Foundation, asked for and received $2,500 to help obtain Dark Skies Designation for the park, and a Dark Skies Education program as well as for repairs to the Andrew Workman Cabin in the park, which dates back to 1887.

• PCHS Football Coach Doug Burns, on behalf of the school’s Football Boosters, asked for and received $5,000 for safety equipment for the football team. Burns added that, as of now, the WVSSAC is planning to run a normal high school football season, however it is possible that the fall sports, including football might be switched to the spring. Another possibility is that winter sports might move to December, followed by fall sports in February with spring sports to remain in March and April, all with abbreviated seasons and schedules.

• Pat Browning, Chairperson of the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition, asked for and received $5,000 to help hire a part-time employee to assist with the organization’s drug and alcohol prevention programs.

• Cara Rose and others asked for and received $5,000, on behalf of the Snowshoe Foundation, to help hire a Recreation Coordinator to assist efforts to obtain a “Silver” designation for their current “Bronze” International Mountain Biking Ride Center in the county.

• Jeff Fellers of the Tucker Community Foundation received $4,000 to support their annual fund-raising race, which will be a virtual race this year. Fellers said the Pocahontas County Commission has donated $17,500 to the foundation since 2015, and the Tucker Community Foundation has returned $121,900 to non-profits in Pocahontas County over that time.

In other business, the commission

• approved emergency absentee balloting procedures for the November election. These procedures allow an election official to bring a ballot to a requesting voter who is unexpectedly hospitalized and unable to vote in person.

• awarded a bid to install heat pumps at both the courthouse complex and at the 911 Center, at a cost of $14,588.63.

• tabled a request from Deputy Joshua Vaughan of the Animal Shelter to increase the allowed working hours of a part-time employee to the next meeting.

• updated the situation regarding having Dish Network and DirectTV customers receive local West Virginia TV channels instead of Virginia channels. Helmick says be believes this is going to happen.

• approved an agreement with Thompson and Litton, consultants for the Pocahontas County Broadband Study, in which that firm will be paid $70,000 for their work. A grant will reimburse that money to the county.

• appointed Randy Wilfong and Keith Corley to three-year terms on the county 911 Advisory Board.

• appointed Tim Wade to a five-year term on the Historic Landmarks Commission

• appointed Linda Adams and Debra Gale to three-year terms on Dramas, Fairs and Festivals.

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