Commission tends to routine business

Laura Dean Bennett
Contributing Writer

Pocahontas County 911 Director Mike O’Brien was first on the agenda at the Pocahontas County Commission’s August 15 meeting. He was there to discuss personnel changes.

Following the resignation of dispatcher Travis Cook, O’Brien reported that he has found, what he believes to be, a suitable replacement for the position. 

O’Brien asked the commissioners to approve the hiring of Austin Duncan for the position of dispatcher with salary and full benefits, starting September 2.

Commissioners questioned the cost of training dispatchers and were told that it takes nearly a year and costs approximately $5,000. 

As it seems that Pocahontas County has a high turnover in the 911 office, commissioners asked if there might be a more cost-effective approach to the system. 

County Counsel Bob Martin suggested that, in the future, there should be a contract between those hired to be dispatchers and the county which would stipulate a certain period of employment. 

Commissioners agreed and Martin was asked to consult with O’Brien and draft a potential contract for 911 dispatchers.

Commissioner David McLaughlin then made a motion that the county hire Austin Duncan. The other two commissioners agreed and the vote was unanimous.

Pocahontas County Clerk Melissa Bennett appeared before the commission seeking approval of poll workers, wages for poll workers and precinct building rents for this fall’s special election.

The special election will be held October 7 to determine the voters’ decision on a road bond proposal.

Commissioners approved the list of poll workers presented by Bennett. 

They also agreed to the following fees to be paid for the election, and as this is a special election, the state will reimburse the county for these costs, consisting of:

• $100 rent per precinct

• $25 for election workers’ training 

• $150/day for poll workers (who usually work an approximately 16/hr. day)

• $100/day for precinct school 

In his report to the commission, Martin reported that he met with the judges and has had and will have ongoing discussions with them and with Ms. Hoffman with regard to improving the county’s day report program. 

Commission president Beard asked Martin to work with 911 Director O’Brien to resolve issues regarding leases for properties to be used by the 911 center and improving scheduling to limit the need for holiday and overtime expenses. 

Approval of a full-time director for the County Day Report Center was on the agenda, but Commissioner Jesse Groseclose, who sits on the County Corrections Board, said that interviews are still ongoing, and he asked that the item be tabled until the next commission meeting, “when there will be a recommended applicant.”

Sue Helton reported to the commissioners that Pocahontas County has been approved for the $50,000 West Virginia Community Corrections Grant, the county’s matching portion of which will be $5,556. 

After signing the grant contract and the grant resolution agreement, Beard thanked Helton and attorney Laura Finch for their hard work in getting the grant application submitted.

Michael Vance brought the requested estimate to the commissioners for the replacement of locks on exterior and interior doors of the old shoe factory building. 

Commissioners authorized Vance to buy the locks, some of which are “high security” locks, and told him that they will approve his labor, estimated to be approximately $1,500 for about a week’s work. Vance will bring his invoice before the commission for payment at the completion of the job. The cost for this work does not exceed the amount required to put the job out for bids. 

The next county commission meeting will be held September 5 at 8:30 a.m.

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