At its April 5 meeting, the Pocahontas County Commission expressed its frustration about paying a $2,500 monthly electric bill at the ARC Building. That building houses the Day Report Center, Animal Control and some local office space for the West Virginia Department of Forestry. Only about 4,000 square feet in the building is now being used, out of a total of the 40,000 square feet that comprises the entire facility.
Emergency Management Director Michael O’Brien told them he has consulted with Mon Power, and has concluded that a lot of the high energy use is caused by having a large commercial electrical system there. That system was designed to run a large factory. He said that electrical system includes three large, energy-draining commercial transformers. O’Brien said Mon Power informed him that if some or all of those transformers could be shut down, and if the lights that are now being used can be switched to LED lights, a large reduction in the monthly electric bill would result.
O’Brien said he recently found the third transformer. It only powers a furnace, and a commercial electrician could rewire it so that it can be bypassed and turned off. He had earlier said that it was possible that at least one of the two other transformers could be similarly bypassed and turned off. To do this, he said will be expensive. O’Brien said 50 lights could be switched to LED by in-house personnel for the cost of the bulbs alone, which would be $1,986. O’Brien added that the sprinkler system in that building also needs to be inspected, the fire alarm system needs to be replaced, and smoke alarms need to be installed.
The commission decided to put off any action on this until the next meeting so they can examine all their options before making any decisions.
Cara Rose, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked the commission to write a letter of support for an ARC Power Grant application for the Monday Lick Contemporary Trail System. She said completing this new mountain biking trail will be a big step in the county upgrading its Silver International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center designation to the coveted Gold Ride Center designation. Rose said that would increase summer tourism to where it might actually rival the winter ski tourism, which puts lots of money into the county’s economy. She said summer tourism increases could easily add 50 percent more revenue to the overall county economy.
Amanda Smarr, of Region 4 Planning and Development, asked the commission for a money draw from the Pocahontas County Broadband Project Study in the amount of $15,000. This money would come from the Broadband Study Grant, and would be used to pay for invoices from Thompson and Litton for work they have done for the project. A second draw from the Pocahontas County ARC Broadband Project was tabled to the next meeting because Smar said they are still waiting for some clarifications from the state. When this draw is approved, it will be for the beginning of construction for that project.
In response to O’Brien’s request, the commission approved the proposed 911 communication tower project at Bartow. O’Brien explained that this new tower will fix serious communication problems first responders have when in the Bartow, Frank and Durbin area of the county. He said the cost will be $279,000, which will pay for the tower, the building and radio equipment for the site, and some radio equipment for the Snowshoe tower, as well. This money will come from 911 funds provided by the state to the 911 Center.
The commission also approved Assessor Johnny Pritt’s request to hire James Boggs as a part-time mapper at the Assessor’s Office. He is already doing this job, but the funding will be coming from a different source.
They authorized the American Lung Association to store bicycles overnight, May 6, at the ARC Building, during the association’s annual fundraising race on the Greenbrier River Trail.
In response to a request from Mark Smith, of the PSD, the commission approved letters of support to Senators Manchin and Capito regarding financing for the Thornwood Water Extension Project with earmarked funds.
They also heard from Lucy Mosesso, who discussed the 4-H Camp Water Project. Mosesso said the water tower at the camp needs to be replaced as well as the leaky water pipes there. She said they have been quoted a cost of $30,000 to replace the tower and another $30,000 to replace the pipes. Mark Smith said the PSD could place their new Thornwood Water Extension tower closer to the 4-H camp, which would provide Thornwood water to the camp, thus eliminating the need to replace the old water tower at the camp, however the pipes would still need to be replaced.
The commission also appointed Connie Horne to the North Central Community Action Board of Directors.
The commission meets the first Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. and the third Thursday at 5:30 p.m.