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Commission votes to oppose proposed NIOSH Mine Project

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

At Tuesday’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, two of three commissioners heard from Jeanne Bell of the Eight Rivers Council, Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s Evan Cole and Heather Ransom, and Becky Sharp and Gil Willis, all of whom expressed opposition to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s proposed Mine Safety training project near Mingo.

Following their comments, commission president David McLaughlin and commissioner Jesse Groseclose voted to write a letter opposing the project.

Commissioner Walt Hel-mick was not present at the meeting.

According to those opposed to it, the project would endanger safe drinking water and wells in the area, as well as have a detrimental effect to the county’s tourism industry.

Randy Sharp expressed his opposition to the commission writing the letter, saying that every time a project is proposed that would create jobs in the county, it is opposed by the tourism industry.

Both commissioners said they did not oppose the concept of the project, which is to make the workplace safer for coal miners and others who work underground, but felt this was just not the right location for such a project. The commissioners took the suggested letter written by the Eight Rivers Council and asked County Prosecutor Eugene Simmons to compose a letter based on the information in that letter. It will be sent to the county’s Congressional Representative and U.S. Senators.

The commissioners also voted to certify the results of the November 3 General Election.

They did not take up the agenda item regarding the Snowshoe RAD’s request to access the Hotel Occupancy Tax Returns, since this matter was settled before this meeting.

Kimberly Raleigh of Seneca Health Services phoned in to the meeting and said Seneca Health has established a mobile health clinic to serve Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Nicholas and Webster counties. The mobile unit will be at the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesdays to serve the medical needs of people who find it difficult to drive to a clinic.

Cree Lahti, Director of the Pocahontas County Libraries and Visitor Information Centers, delivered their annual update. She said that library activities have been defined by the pandemic in 2020, however the libraries are once again operating on nearly regular hours. She noted that appointments are recommended since the number of patrons in the library is limited, but you can show up at a library without an appointment, ring the doorbell and be admitted by a librarian. She added that curb-side service remains an option.

Lahti said WiFi at the four libraries that offer it has been opened up to all, and the state has installed “Kids Connection” to the libraries, allowing students to access the school’s web.

Lahti said the Summer Reading Program was a success with 100 people registered in it. She mentioned several other accomplishments this year:

• The Green Bank Library’s new parking lot has been finished

• “Play Zoom” has replaced “Play Time” at the libraries

Lahti also thanked the County Commission for its contributions from the Hotel Occupancy Tax, which she said makes up 52% of their budget.

The Pocahontas County Commission meets on the first Tuesday of the month beginning at 8:30 a.m. and on the third Tuesday of the month beginning at 5:30 p.m.

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