Commission makes financial commitment to public transit

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Pocahontas County Commission heard more from Tim Thomas of the Mountain Valley Transit Company about bringing bus service to the county. Thomas told the commissioners that they intend to operate commuter service from Marlinton to both Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Interstate Hardwoods. Both of those companies have committed to doing payroll deductions from their employees who use the transit service in return for discounted weekly transit passes for the employees. Thomas also said he would prioritize hospital runs and would run a scheduled transit loop multiple times around the Marlinton area to include nearby apartments, the drug store and the hospital as stops on this loop. He explained how the Federal Government grant used for this requires a 50 percent local match. Thomas asked the commission to commit $30,000 a year toward that local match.

Representatives from Snowshoe, Interstate Hardwoods, the Day Report Center, Senior Citizens and Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, as well as Marlinton Mayor Felton, told the commission how important this transit service would be to both the citizens and the area economy.

The commission unanimously voted to provide $30,000 toward the project.

David Hammond from Silver Creek Homeowners Association asked the commission to return the taxes they paid in protest in 2017 and 2018 on the common areas at Silver Creek. He cited a January 2019 decision by Judge Jennifer Dent which they say ordered that the taxes were improperly assessed to the Association, when they should have been divided among all the individual homeowners.

Commission attorney Bob Martin and Pocahontas County Assessor Tom Lane disagreed with Hammond’s interpretation of Judge Dent’s ruling.

The commissioners will try to resolve the matter at a Special Commission Meeting, which is set for Friday, August 16, at 10:15 a.m.

The Commissioners also approved funding for the following non-profit organizations:

• $1,500 to repair the roof on the train boxcar located at the Marlinton Depot. This funding will be through the non-profit group, Marlinton Railroad Depot Corporation, who owns the boxcar and the caboose located there.

• $2,500 to High Rocks to repair a deteriorating picnic shelter at their camp.

• $4,000 for the Tucker Community Foundation to be used for their “Run for It” event.

• $5,000 for the Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition

• $1,000 for Bryans Battery, Inc. for the Droop Mountain Battle Civil War Re-enactment at the Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park October 12 and 13.

In other actions, the commission:

• approved a request from the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce to use the ARC building for a haunted house event in October.

• agreed to payment terms with Shinaberry’s Graphics for the purchase of 911 addressing signs and materials; the bill will be paid in one-third increments.

• tabled appointing board members for the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation until next meeting.

• appointed Aaron Pugh to a five-year term on the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Center Board.

• appointed Steve Tritapoe and Todd Wright to three-year terms on the County Fire Board.

• renewed the cable TV franchise agreement with Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks Telephone, Inc. Bob Martin pointed out that this a 15-year agreement which is “non-exclusive” – meaning other companies can sign agreements with the commission to provide the same services in the same area, and there is no franchise fee associated with this agreement.

• approved a facility use Memorandum of Agreement with the Family Courts.

• renewed the special risk accident insurance policy rider for community Emergency Response Team Volunteers. This coverage provides $25,000 in medical benefits, $10,000 in death benefits and $5,000 in dismemberment benefits, with a $10,000 benefit for a double dismemberment and costs $235 per year.

In his report, Martin announced that Josh Hardy has resigned as Fiduciary Commissioner for the County. Martin is considering Attorney Virginia Lemon from Greenbrier County to replace Hardy. He also said he has been negotiating with the County Fire Board to resolve the incident command issue at a scene so that fire personnel at an accident can, along with law enforcement, ask 911 to dispatch tow trucks to a scene.

The Commissioners appointed Rita Jackson to a six-year term on the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Board, but did not fill the second board position at this time.

They went into an Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter involving a County Employee’s claim to have legal fees paid, and then into another Executive Session to discuss concerns with the Hospital.

Neither of these closed sessions resulted in any formal action being taken at this meeting.

The commissioners ended the meeting with approval of invoices.

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