At Tuesday’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Com- mission President Walt Helmick asked Jason Bauserman, chairman of the His- toric Landmark Commission, for that organization’s support of the commission’s efforts to tear down the County Jail building behind the courthouse to make room for a proposed Courthouse Annex.
Helmick explained to Bauserman that the jail building was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1994 by the County Commission, and the present commission is attempting to remove that registry status because the jail site is the only place practicable on the courthouse grounds to build the annex. Helmick said the jail was placed on the register as, basically, an afterthought when the courthouse itself was placed on it.
Bauserman said he personally had mixed feelings about supporting tearing down another historic building in Marlinton, but the Historical Landmarks Commis- sion did vote at its October 28 meeting to not oppose the removal of the jail from the National Registry of Historic Places. In return, Bauserman asked the commissioners for some of the bricks and stone from the demolished jail to use in restoring the old County Clerk’s Office in Huntersville, and for commission support for that Huntersville restoration project.
The commissioners verbally agreed with those requests but did not officially vote on the agreement.
John Leyzorek spoke to the commission, saying he was “shocked and outraged” that the Historic Landmarks “rolled over,” by not opposing the preservation of this historic building. He added that building an expansion on the courthouse is unwarranted, since the county just lost 10 percent of its population in the latest Census, and that, if they truly do need more space, there are a lot of nearby empty buildings the commission could rent or buy for a lot less money than what the annex will cost.
Addressing another matter, Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton commented that there were some “administrative irregularities” in the way the commission selected the winning bid of Podesta Engineering to do the engineering for the Water and Sewer project near the hospital. Felton said that the five-member selection panel, of which Felton as well as all three commissioners were members, had each member score, on a scale of one to 10, certain aspects of each competitive bidder’s presentation. Normally, each member would vote for the bidder they scored the highest, and the winner would be the company that received the highest scores from panel members. Felton said he noticed that had it been done the usual way, a different company would have been awarded the bid since that other company was scored highest by three of the five panel members. The remaining two members each rated a different company highest. Instead, the commission simply added the scores of all five panelists together which led to Podesta having the highest cumulative score and therefore being selected – although only one panel member gave their very high score to Podesta.
Felton said this occurred because the process was not explained well enough by Region 4. Felton said using the cumulative score of all panelists is not really accurate because each person has their own subjective criteria for assigning scores. Despite this, the commission said, based on their vote to select Podesta, and announcing the winner, they would not change their selection now. They did agree to clarify the process in future selections.
In other actions, the commission:
• approved extending the Memorandum of Understanding with the WV Supreme Court of Appeals for use of the Family Court Building from 2021 through 2026 under the same terms of $11 per square foot.
• awarded the heating oil contract for the next year to the only bidding company, Woodford Oil.
• approved a proclamation supporting Governor Justice’s declaration of November 2021 as “National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
• received the annual Report of the Pocahontas County Senior Citizens for the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. John Simmons delivered the report, saying that COVID-19 dictated that many changes be made to their normal operations. Simmons said this was especially true since seniors were not allowed back into the Senior Centers until March 3, 2021. This reduced the number of in-house meals while increasing the number of “grab-and-go” and delivered meals.
• authorized County Assessor Johnny Pritt to hire Melinda Bussard as a full-time Deputy Assessor.
• approved a “Welcome Letter” to be included in the official Bicentennial Program.