The Pocahontas County Commissioners revealed at Tuesday’s meeting that Pocahontas Memorial Hospital had been approved for a $5.7 million Rural Development renovation loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.) The approval came just before Christmas.
As it was the first meeting of the New Year, one item of business was to elect a president and divvy up responsibilities.
Commissioner Walt Hel-mick was elected to be commission president for 2021. Assignments to various boards and organizations were reviewed and commissioner John Rebinski will hold most of the seats held by former commissioner David McLaughlin.
Prosecuting Attorney Terri Helmick Workman address-ed the commission, saying she would be there to assist them whenever needed.
Assessor Johnny Pritt also addressed the commissioners stating he was looking forward to performing his new duties.
Jason Bauserman delivered the annual update from the Pocahontas Historic Landmarks Commission. He asked Helmick for a key to the former Howes Tannery Office building in Frank so he could clear out any debris blocking passage through the building prior to the public walk through of the building scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, January 9. The purpose of the walk through is to determine if it is financially feasible to restore the building as a museum to the Tannery Industry in West Virginia, or the feasibility of building a smaller replica building on the site for use as the museum, preserving fixtures, trim and other artifacts from the original building. Helmick agreed to provide a key to Rebinski for access to the building.
Bauserman said the Landmarks Commission has replaced two furnaces at the Opera House this year, at a cost of $5,000 each, and anticipates that two similar furnaces may need to be replaced in the near future.
He said there are two immediate repairs needed. First, the floor at the McGlaughlin Cabin in Marlinton suffered damage from a water leak. He said that this damage was increased because there was no proper subfloor in the cabin, only particleboard, which was ruined by the water.
Bauserman said their second immediate need is to address water damage to mortaring and windowsills and other drainage problems at the Opera House. They need to build a canopy along the side of the Opera House facing Discovery Junction to prevent future water damage from roof runoff. He said rain guttering will not work because the steep roof would shed heavy snow which would likely slide down and tear off any guttering. There is also a need to install expensive drainage along the outside of the Opera House to divert water from the building into the city drains.
Tim Wade and Laura Dean Bennett, representing Huntersville Historic Traditions, discussed the intended renovation of the clerk’s office for the first courthouse located in Huntersville near the old jail. The courthouse and clerk’s office were built in 1822 when Huntersville was the county seat.
On December 15, 2020, Huntersville Historic Traditions, which recently became owner of the former county clerk building, invited Historic Preservation Consultant Michael Gioulis and Civil Engineer Barry Dickson to examine the building. They issued a report saying it is feasible to restore the building, and that would cost $30,000 to $35,000.
Wade said the ultimate goal is to have the clerk’s office, the school, the jail and the Revolutionary War Cemetery all located in the area, placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In other business, the commission appointed the mayors of Marlinton, Durbin and Hillsboro to three year terms on the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), as well as Heather Niday of Allegheny Mountain Radio; Leisha Cassell Barlow of the Frank-Durbin Volunteer Fire Department; John Leyzorek, as Community Representative; and Mike Holstine, of the Green Bank Observatory; to two year terms on the LEPC.