During the August 1 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Rebinski said that the new county-operated ambulance service, known as the Pocahontas County Ambulance Authority, has obtained its DEA license. This will allow controlled drugs used during emergency medical procedures to be stocked on the ambulance. He said he is now finalizing the paperwork to allow the ambulance crew to exchange drugs with PMH.
Rebinski said he anticipates that the one county ambulance will begin operation in the northern part of the county during the week of August 8, although he is not yet sure of an exact schedule.
The commission decided that there is no need for them to approve Rebinski to be a volunteer with the new Ambulance Authority, because, as a commissioner he already is a county worker. The commissioners said they will possibly consider approving other volunteers, especially for insurance reasons if they will be driving the county ambulance.
Commission President Walt Helmick said he doesn’t want to set a precedent where volunteer fire departments would need commission acceptance of any of their volunteers. Rebinski added that, although he is running the new service to get it started, he anticipates that the EMD Board will eventually run it.
Ken Gaitor, of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (SRCD), presented a letter – signed by every member of the SRCD Board – to the commission in which they “express the strong opposition to the process by which the Pocahontas County Commission recently reallocated the Hotel/Motel Tax and the resultant funding reductions to various organizations in Pocahontas County.” He said that although the SRCD recognized the commission did this to support emergency services in the county, those organizations both support tourism here – which is the stated purpose of that tax, and a lot of them, especially organizations such as Parks and Recreation and the libraries, also encourage families to move here, which supports the county budget. Gaitor said the Snowshoe area produces the vast amount of the Hotel/Motel Tax, but they don’t object to organizations in other parts of the county receiving those tax proceeds.
Gaitor also said he particularly objects to the caps on how much Hotel/Motel Tax organizations can receive and that they had their money cut in the middle of their budget years, after they were already committed to programs and employees.
Rebinski responded and said the purpose of the caps was to eliminate out-of-control increases in the amount of Hotel/Motel Tax money the organizations were receiving since their shares of the tax were based on a percentage and the tax was increasing dramatically. He said this resulted in some organizations receiving up to 50 to 80 percent increases from year to year, and even county agencies don’t get that kind of budget increase. He also said the caps were based on the average each organization has received over the past few years, and the saved money will be used to support medical services in the county.
Helmick agreed, saying that providing medical service to our aging population is the number one commission priority.
In other actions, the commission:
• approved four actions related to the PMH Roofing/HVAC project. That pro-ject is funded by a $1,576,764 Community Development Block Grant. They approved a release of grant funds to begin the bid process; approved the intent to bid; approved the release of $15,422.79 from the grant to move forward; and approved an extension of the grant.
– Donald McNeel and Christine Rebinski to three-year terms on the Pocahontas County EMS.
– Charlie Sheets to a three-year term on the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation (GBEDC.)
– Linda Adams, Louise Burner, and Teresa Dunbrack to three-year terms on the Dramas, Fairs and Festival Board
• approved the Emergency Management Service to accept a $6,000 Homeland Security Grant Program’s Grant for Hazardous Material Commodity Flow Study; and also gave them permission to pursue a grant for the replacement of their current communications trailer.
• approved a budget Revision and Resolution for the Coal Severance Fund – which now has a balance of $436,000.
• approved an easement agreement for the East Fork Tannery Sewer Project
• approved contributions of $2,500 to the Tucker Community Foundation for its “Run for It” charity race, and $1,500 for Bryans Battery, a non-profit organization, for its Battle of Droop Mountain Civil War Reenactment scheduled for October 14 and 15.