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County Commission agenda covers a wide spectrum

Laura Dean Bennett
Contributing Writer

The Pocahontas County Commission took on a range of topics of interest to the people of the county at its October 17 meeting.

During “Hear Callers” portion of the meeting, Alan Wright, of Durbin, asked if the newly organized Fire Board would be imposing a fire fee on county residents. 

Commission president Bill Beard and Counsel Bob Martin explained that, while it would be within the authority of the Fire Board to recommend a fire fee for approval by the commission, that issue had not yet been raised. 

If and when such a recommendation would be considered, it would first have to be debated by the Fire Board and then brought before the commissioners for approval.

They also suggested that any member of the public concerned about any issues under consideration by the Fire Board could attend Fire Board meetings, which are open to the public.

David Pingley, of Bartow, was not only concerned about the possibility of a fire fee assessment, but also asked whether the public could have access to the map outlining the six county fire districts. 

Pingley expressed his feelings that all county business, and all fire board business, should be conducted so that the citizens of the county could be made aware of any decisions before they take place. 

He was told that all county business was being conducted in a transparent manner, and that there is a map of the six fire districts available at the courthouse for inspection.

As no bids were received in response to the advertisement for the November 1, 2017 – October 31, 2018 heating oil contract for the courthouse offices and jail building, the commission is now permitted to make calls to various area providers for price quotes. The current contract is held by Woodford Oil.

Daniel Arbogast delivered the September figures from the Day Report Center.

The month started with 17 participants in the program, with one new participant being added during the month. Two participants completed the program – one from day report and one under bond supervision. 

One participant was terminated from the program. 

Fifty-five drug and alcohol screens were administered with seven participants testing positive for drugs (and one testing positive on intake to the program) and 0 testing positive for alcohol. 

The number of unemployed was six with zero finding employment during the month. Ten community service hours were performed.
Arbogast also reported that the sheriff’s department and home confinement personnel conducted three home visits, one of which resulted in the discovery of a meth lab. 

Doug Bernier, Nikki Alikakos, John Leyzorek and Allen Johnson were among several citizens who came to express their opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Pocahontas County. 

Martin reported that, at the request of the commissioners, he had sent a letter to Dominion asking the company to remove the erroneous statement from its website which says the Pocahontas County Commission supports the pipeline.

The previous sitting commission had been in favor of the “Northern” route through Pocahontas County, but this commission has not given its support to the current proposed route. 

Martin stated that Dominion had complied with the request.

Commissioners were asked if they would be willing to go on record as being opposed to the pipeline. Only Commissioner David McLaughlin replied, saying, “When I ran for this office, I said I was in favor of the pipeline, and I have not changed my opinion.”

Asked about his position against the potential use of eminent domain to secure private property for the currently planned route, Commissioner Jesse Groseclose said no case involving the use of eminent domain had come to the attention of the commission.

Moving on to the next item of business, the commissioners discussed the need for another member to be appointed to the Pocahontas County Public Service District, for an unexpired term ending June 30, 2022. 

Despite being advertised, there had been no applicants, to fill the vacancy left on the PSD board as of the commission meeting. 

This important post requires a public-minded volunteer who is willing to serve out the unexpired 4-year term with the Public Service District.

Anyone interested in volunteering or with questions as to the requirements of the position, is encouraged to get in touch with the commission’s administrative secretary, Sue Helton at 304-799-6063.

The ad for the position will again be run in The Pocahontas Times.

In the report from counsel, Bob Martin reported that he was working with Frank DeBerry to certify the Snowshoe RAD documents in order to be ready for their presentation at the RAD meeting to be held in the county commission room on October 27.

In other business, the commission:

• approved the appointment of Heather Niday as Emergency Management Public Information Officer. 

• put the issue of flood plain fees on its November 7 agenda

• approved the hiring of Ashley Peacock as part-time 911 Dispatcher to begin October 21

• approved two resolutions for Pocahontas County Farmland Protection easements for property owned by Thomas and Linda VanReenen in Little Levels and also for property owned by Timothy VanReenen in Little Levels.

• appointed commission counsel Bob Martin to the Pocahontas County Civil Service Board for a term of four years, expiring June 30, 2021.

• signed the previously approved bid and agreement between the county and SecureTech

• approved Pocahontas County Clerk Melissa Bennett’s application for a $10,000 state Records Management and Preservation grant for digitizing data and protecting records.

The next county commission meeting will be Tuesday, November 7, at 8:30 a.m.

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