County Commission distributes remainder of COVID-19 grant funds

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

The Pocahontas County Commission analyzed previous distributions from the $100,000 COVID-19 State Grant at its December 15 meeting, and authorized the distribution of the remaining funds.

The grant from the state was to be used to cover county expenses associated with the pandemic, as well as expenses incurred by the three incorporated towns

The commission had distributed $65,000 of the funds, and approved the following disbursements for the remaining $35,000:

• an additional $10,000 for the Pocahontas County Health Department

• $12,000 total to the county’s rescue squads

• $5,000 to Pocahontas County Senior Citizens for winter food packs for homebound seniors.

• the remainder to the Town of Marlinton to open public restrooms in the town for visitors since COVID-19 has caused many businesses to close their restrooms to the public.

Prior to the start of the meeting, the commission met in an emergency session and considered a request from the Chafin Law Firm to be hired to assist the county in filing an application for Cares Act Funding to cover additional COVID-19 expenses that exceeded their regular budget. Since the commissioners are not sure that they have actually incurred such additional expenses, they took no action, pending receipt of further information and clarification from Ann Urling of the Governors Office.

Peggy Owens delivered the annual update from the Pocahontas County Arts Council, in which she talked about their continuing arts education projects despite the pandemic.

BJ Gudmundsson delivered the annual update for Preserving Pocahontas in which she said that, due to the pandemic, festivals, as well as the Historical Society Museum and the Pearl Buck Birthplace never opened this year, however Preserving Pocahontas remained active assisting historical researchers and preparing for the upcoming Bicentennial celebrations.

Greg Mosesso updated the commission on his efforts to obtain information from the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection about how they handled the 2017 asbestos exposure at the Trout Hatchery. He said the contracting company that caused the hazard has been cited for violations, and the site has been cleaned up, but he believes those state agencies are still withholding information from the Hatchery employees who were exposed. Commissioner Walt Helmick said he will set up a meeting between those employees, representatives of both the DNR and the DEP, and State Senator Bill Ham-ilton, who is Chairman of the Senate DNR Committee to try and resolve this.

In other business, the commission

• approved a resolution to permit both the commission and the Sheriff’s Office to pursue unclaimed property with the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office.

• set the following dates for their Board of Review and Equalization Hearings:

– Friday, January 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
– Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
– Monday, February 8, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
– Friday, February 12, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
– Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 5:45 p.m.

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