Agnes Doyle and Marvina Irvine appeared at the July 19 Pocahontas County Commission meeting and asked that the commission contact the West Virginia State Legislature about gun noise and gun safety issues. Doyle and Irvine have been experiencing these problems in the Brush Country Road area. Doyle reminded the commission that this was her second request for the commission to do this, the first time was at the June 28 special commission meeting.
Doyle told the commission that her overriding issue is with guns and the bombs her neighbor fires off and not so much with their drug dealing.
She said she was suffering from a PTSD breakdown during that special meeting and perhaps did not make that clear. She said that her neighbor fires off a powerful .30/06 rifle which can send a round up to four miles, according to her research on the NRA website. Doyle and Irvine are upset that under current state law it is legal to discharge a firearm so long as you are no closer than 500 feet to an occupied home. Both Doyle and Irvine would like the legislature to increase that distance by a large amount to ensure the safety of other people in the area. They both would also like to see a county noise ordinance to prevent discharges of firearms late at night. Doyle said her neighbor repeatedly shoots his gun from his porch in the middle of the night but the police cannot do anything because that is more than 500 feet from her home. They said this has been going on for three and a half years and the situation is ruining their lives.
Without expressing an opinion either way about the requested changes to the state’s gun laws, Commission President Walt Helmick did agree to invite several legislators representing the county to attend a future special meeting to discuss this with Doyle, Irvine and anyone else from the public who wishes to be there.
Ruthanna Beezley, of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, introduced Alan Lawson, CEO of EDIOL, LLC, a company out of Georgia. Lawson told the commission that they are very interested in a two-year lease with an option to purchase a 2.77-acre lot on the county-owned Brown Field site at the former tannery property in the East Fork Industrial Park. He said EDIOL would like to construct an advanced biorefinery on that site. Lawson explained that a biorefinery converts – using a totally non-polluting process – wood chips into liquid hydrocarbons in the forms of biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastic resins, which are all biodegradable. He said some of these products can fuel vehicles if added to gasoline, while others have valuable industrial uses. The commission expressed interest in learning more about this proposal.
Roger Griffin, of One Room University, asked the commission to hire a replacement for an employee who has left the ORU. He said the new employee would not have benefits, their wages would be reported on a W-2 and they could only work up to 1,039 hours per year. The county pays up to half the cost of some employees as well as for supplies, rent and utilities at the One Room University. Since this was not on the agenda, the commission agreed to discuss it at their next meeting.
Andy Friel and Nichole Brock representing the Pocahontas County Saddle Club asked for a multi-year agreement with the county for their continued use of the rodeo arena on the county-owned field near the old ARC Building. They said they want to do some major improvements, such as adding power and putting a roof over the arena, but can only do this if they have a 15-to-20-year agreement with the county to use the field. Helmick said he would like for the commission to look over the area with members of the Saddle Club to see where the improvements will be made before finalizing the agreement.
Cass VFD Rescue Chief Christine Rebinski requested that the commission authorize that their building at the intersection of Routes 66 and 92 be annexed into the Cass VFD’s EMS response area. It is now located just inside the BFD Volunteer Fire Department’s Fire Area, and just outside of Cass VFD’s area. She explained that doing so would speed up EMS response times when they are called to back-up BFD, since a lot of Cass volunteers live in Dunmore and must drive right past that building to the main fire station in Cass when responding from home to a call. Mike O’Brien said the State Fire Marshal has determined the building is in the BFD’s fire area, but EMS areas are designated by the county commission, not the Fire Marshal. Rebinski said they would still need to install a sprinkler system before they could house an ambulance there, even if the commission were to annex the building into the Cass EMS area. The commission wants to discuss this with BFD before annexing it. BFD has opposed this in the past. Commissioner John Rebinski recused himself from the room while this was discussed.
In other actions, the commission:
• passed a motion to advertise for contractors to restore and preserve the first County Clerk’s Office in Huntersville.
• approved a time extension request until 6/30/2023, and a $2,095.60 drawdown #6 for T&L consulting fees from the Pocahontas County Broadband Study.
• approved Drawdown Request #2 in the amount of $79,351.50 from the Broadband Project to pay T&L Consulting fees.
• approved for the Day Report Program to apply for a WV Business Registration which is required for them to participate in the Empowered Employment Program.
• authorized Emergency Management Director Mike O’Brien to close out their COVID grant.
• provided a required letter for the Marlinton Motor Inn to host the Eight Rivers Rally Event on August 4 through August 6.
• Appointed Leisha Cassell to the EMS Board.
• Approved a Budget Revision and Resolution for the 2022-2023 General Fund.
• Approved High Rock’s request to extend the time for them to purchase a commercial dishwasher using funds from the commission’s 2021 contribution to them.
• Approved a Court Security Grant application.