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Commission hears proposal for environmental oversight

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

At the request of the Pocahontas County Commission, representatives of Core Environmental Services, Inc. of Lewisburg, gave a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting as to their capabilities in assisting the county with monitoring and managing any environmental problems associated with Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction.

Commission president Bill Beard and commissioner Jesse Groseclose both mentioned that the company comes highly recommended as the best local company doing this kind of work.

It is the company which handled the cleanup of the Liberty Industries Elk River chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston in 2014.

Matt Ford, General Manager of West Virginia Operations and Audrey Sampson, Project Manager, outlined Core Environmental’s expertise and experience in the field of environmental protection.

They described the professional oversight that they could provide for the county, focusing on erosion and sediment control, stormwater, construction inspection, and inspections following a significant rainfall.

The contract proposed by the company would have Environmental Services, Inc. acting as an agent for the county in handling inspections, citizen reports and complaints, acting as a go-between for the county with Dominion and reporting any environmental violations to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

The commissioners asked several questions and a lengthy discussion about oversight specifics, county objectives and detailed costs ensued.

“Our major concern regarding the pipeline construction is to keep the county’s water and environment as clean as possible,” Beard said.

Commissioners will review the Core Environmental Services contract and have company representatives come back again before a decision is made regarding hiring the company.

Extension Agent Greg Hamons addressed the commission about the lease expiration for the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.

The CSA needs to move out of the Habitat for Humanity, formerly Pocahontas Woods, building by July 1.

This will entail finding another location for the operation and moving the walk-in cooler, refrigerator and chest freezer, which belong to the county, but were being used by the CSA.

Hamons asked the commission to consider allowing the CSA to relocate to the ARC Building.

Commissioners stated that since the county can only allow non-profit organizations to use the ARC building, the CSA will need to have a 501C-3 status if they want to move in there.

The commission suggested that the CSA might align with the Farmers Market, as they are non-profit.

Counsel Bob Martin said he would work with the CSA to assist them in obtaining its own non-profit status.

Hamons also advised commissioners that Luci Mosesso is the county’s new 4-H Agent. She will begin work July 5.

Sheriff Jeff Barlow reported that most lodging facilities subject to Hotel/ Motel tax are fulfilling their obligations.

However, in cases of non-compliance, the Sheriff asked commissioners to clarify as to how they wished to proceed.

The commission said that, in accordance with provisions in the ordinance outlining the Sheriff’s authority, they approve his taking whatever steps are legally appropriate to insure compliance.

Community Corrections Director Daniel Arbogast asked commissioners to authorize the use of the 911 Center vehicle to transport Day Report and, eventually, Drug Court clients to and from court authorized appointments.

He also explained that court mandated Day Report activities are expanding, and there will, hopefully, be a Pocahontas County Drug Court soon. This will bring about a need for a second vehicle.

Arbogast said that he is pursuing state grant funding which is available to assist with Day Report and Drug Court transportation.

Mayor Sam Felton, who is president of the Day Report board, agreed that it would be helpful to have the commission’s backing on the subject of increasing transportation options “before we go back to the next Department of Justice board meeting in Charleston.”

The commission asked Martin to draft a letter to Arbogast stipulating that the 911 Center vehicle may be used by the director and the deputy to transport day report clients, and that the commission will consider the purchase of a second vehicle for this purpose in the future, as needs increase.

In other business, commissioners

• signed a proclamation designating June 15 Elder Abuse Awareness Day

• signed an agreement to continue service with Frontier Communications and approved renewing a franchise agreement with Shentel for cable service for county customers

• approved hiring Zed Weatherholt as part-time deputy for the Assessor’s Office.

• appointed Linda Adams to the Dramas, Fairs and Festival Board for an unexpired term ending 6-30-20; Debra Gale to an unexpired term ending 6-30-20; and Keith Wood and Ruth Taylor to three-year terms ending 6-30-21.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Pocahontas County Commission will be Tuesday, June 19, at 5:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend.

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