Cailey Moore\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nFor the third meeting in a row, it was standing room only Tuesday evening in the Pocahontas County Commission room as interested parties gathered to hear the commission's decision concerning letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] and the Forest Service in regards to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.\r\n\r\nOpening the ACP discussion at 5:45 p.m. with a period of public comment, the commission listened as a number of residents and visitors took time to express their concerns and oppositions.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe must look to you, our county commission, to be our loud voice for the protection of our land,\u201d local John Leyzorek stated. \u201cWe must ask you to \u2013 not only oppose one particular new-ish, not so northernly route \u2013 but rethink your original position and absolutely oppose any route through Pocahontas County.\u201d\r\n\r\nPocahontas County Commission candidate Ben Wilfong also urged the commission to be the county's voice, expressing his concerns for the rights of property owners whose land falls within the pipeline's path.\r\n\r\n\u201cWill our voice be heard as much as theirs?\u201d he asked of the commission. \u201cProperty owners deserve a voice, and they deserve the option \u2013 if they wish \u2013 for the pipeline to go through. That's their option as a property owner, but let's come up with a route and move forward with it. With all of the major changes, we're constantly stirring people up.\u201d\r\n\r\nA number of people continued to voice their opinions, but when it came time for the commission to respond, Commissioner Jamie Walker turned his attention toward life in the area and spoke of the struggles faced by many within the county \u2013 himself included.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt really bothers me to look at somebody who's struggling and sees the potential benefit of the pipeline coming through their property,\u201d he said, \u201cand the idea of standing up and saying that I'm going to take that away bothers me. They've got just as much right as the people who are against the pipeline. I stand for property rights, and if every single person, who the pipeline is going to affect, would come here and say they didn't want it, I'd one hundred percent stand up and oppose it. I don't think that's the case. I think there are people who see the pipeline as an opportunity for a break in their life, and I'm going to support that.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn light of the opposition, Commissioner David McLaughlin added his disapproval for the proposed alternate route to the conversation and encouraged the community to work together to find a route that worked for everyone before a route was decided for them.\r\n\r\nCommission President Bill Beard seconded McLaughlin's thoughts by reaffirming his support of the original route proposed by Dominion.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt's less of an impact,\u201d he said. \u201cand it's the shortest route thus far. The alternate route isn't good for the county, and I think it's better for us to give a little bit than to take from a private landowner.\u201d\r\n\r\nVery few county residents have attended previous commission meetings to express support for the pipeline, but Louise Barnisky, of Marlinton, had something to say in the face of the opposition. Barnisky has spent the majority of her life in Pocahontas County despite the hardships the county has faced.\r\n\r\n\u201cI look around here tonight,\u201d Barnisky began, \u201cand I see very few people that I know. When my husband and I married, we opted to stay here and raise our family because we thought it was a wonderful place to come, but you people moved away. You moved away, made a lot of money and then came back. You don't understand that we have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren here that are struggling to make a living because there's nothing here.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have nothing, and I'm sorry that you people are not giving this county a chance to come back again. Just think of what this could bring to us! This country is in bad shape \u2013\u00a0not just Pocahontas County \u2013 and you people are fighting for us to have nothing.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the end, two motions were made that night.\r\n\r\nThe commission voted to draft a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and request that they schedule a scoping meeting in Pocahontas County, as well as draft a letter to the Forest Service asking them to reconsider the original pipeline route rather than the proposed alternative.\r\n\r\nIn other news:\r\n<ul>\r\n\t<li>The commission hired Tim Sayer, as recommended by the Civil Service Commission, as a full-time Pocahontas County Law Enforcement Deputy, effective March 16, 2016. The commission approved Sheriff David Jonese's in-house budget revision.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>Allen Johnson, president of the Eight Rivers Council, presented the commission with an economic study anticipated effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. While the presentation focused on the economic impacts a pipeline could have in Nelson County, Virginia, Johnson urged the commission to consider conducting a similar study for Pocahontas County.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>At the recommendation of the Pocahontas County Local Community Corrections board, the commission hired Glen Galloway as the full-time Day Report Center Director and James Vandevander as a full-time Day Report Center Officer, effective March 28, 2016.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The commission tabled the discussion concerning the management of Cass Community Park until a later date.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The commission approved a list of poll workers for the May 10 Primary Election.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The commission approved the 2016-2017 Pocahontas County budget.<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\nThe next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for April 5, 2016, at 8:30 a.m.