County Commission lends its support

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

The Pocahontas County Commission meeting was buzzing Tuesday morning as members and supporters from four different organizations gathered in search of funding.

Mountain Resource Conservation & Development Area, Inc. Wyoming County Supervisor Devon Duncan was the first to approach the commission.

A 12 county region, Mountain RC&D receives between $17,000 and $19,000 from the West Virginia Conservation Agency to do projects in the region. These projects – which relate to fishing, wildlife, recreation, forestry, land and water, education, economics and agriculture – are cost share projects, and for the counties involved, a board appointment is often requested.

“I’m here today to ask you to do two things,” Duncan explained. “I’m here to ask you to appoint someone from Pocahontas County who can attend our meetings – and we meet every two to three months; typically it’s a dinner meeting somewhere because our folks work during the day – and we need someone who is invested in Pocahontas County, someone who knows what kinds of projects you have going on here. Secondly, we ask that you contribute $1,000, and what that does is that acts as a cost share to the $17,000 to $19,000 we received from the state agency.”

In addition to her requests, Duncan also asked that the commission provide Mountain RC&D with a list of projects they wish to see completed in the county.

“It’s been a long time since any project was done in Pocahontas County,” she said. “We haven’t had representation out of Pocahontas County since I have been on the board, and I’ve been on the board of Mountain RC&D for six years now.”

No immediate action was taken, as the commission waited to hear from the other organizations that were present.

The commission heard from Diane Hinkle of the Tucker Community Foundation.

Founded in 1989, the TCF began in Tucker County and has since grown to serve eight counties, including Pocahontas County.

“We serve by virtue of endowments that have been established that we administer,” Hinkle explained. “We really only have one endowment that reaches into Pocahontas County, and that’s the Joseph Steffl scholarship fund.”

The TCF administers grants and additional scholarships in Pocahontas County, as well, and according to Hinkle, one of the primary goals of the foundation is to create opportunities in each community that TCF serves. One way of doing so is by an annual grant program.

Another way TCF creates these opportunities is through a program called “Run for It.”

“’Run for It’ is held the last weekend of September every year up in Davis,” said Hinkle, “and it’s a 2k walk and a 5k race. It’s actually [part of] a year-long program that rewards the efforts of community groups and non-profits who are trying to raise awareness and earning for their causes. By virtue of the work that they do all year, we bring them to Davis for this 2k walk and 5k run and then we reward those efforts.”

When “Run for It” began in 2007, TCF’s goal was to raise an award purse that would grab people’s attention and encourage them to get involved in a healthy activity. The purse began at $5,000, but TCF was able to generate an additional $9,000 – which brought the overall purse to $14,000.

Last year, more than $80,000 was awarded after the race, and two local groups, Challenged Athletes and Pocahontas County Senior Center, were involved last year.

At the end of her presentation, Hinkle urged the commission to lend their support to Pocahontas County’s teams. In terms of a financial request, she sought a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $5,000 to use to award each team.

The third to appear before the commission was Janet Swift with the Family Refuge Center.

The FRC is a non-profit domestic violence and sexual assault center that serves the southeastern counties – which includes Pocahontas County – in West Virginia.

“We are asking the county commission to, again this year, fund us,” Swift said. “We’re hoping you will see fit to give us $5,000. $3,900 of that will go to pay the rent of our office space, so that we can continue to keep our doors open here, and $1,100 will go to pay for the propane we need to heat the building in the wintertime.”

Last year in Pocahontas County, the FRC served 311 victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault and provided five victims with 148 nights of shelter.

Commander Rick Wooddell of the Pocahontas County Honor Corp was the last of the representatives to appear before the commission with a request for a $2,500 contribution.

The Honor Corp – founded in 1996 by 16 honorably discharged veterans – serves Pocahontas County by performing ceremonial military rights for fallen US veterans, handling the presentation of the colors throughout the community and schools, the laying of VA markers at county cemeteries and the placing of memorial flags on Memorial Day, as well as providing US flag etiquette and education for county schools.

“Our Honor Corp operates primarily on member dues and donations from private citizens, business organizations, and family donations from military ceremonial burial rights, even though this service is free of charge,” Wooddell explained. “The operations fluctuate significantly from year-to-year and creates quite a bit of chaos when trying to run our organization. We have recently elected to register as a 501(c) non-profit in the hopes of securing local grants to assist in smoothing out these fluctuations. We also found we needed to carry liability insurance covering our Honor Corp members and the public when we conduct military ceremonial funeral rights. This has added an additional expense to our budget this year.”

Once they had heard from all four organizations, the commission passed multiple motions to contribute $5,000 to the Family Refuge Center, $2,500 to the Tucker Community Foundation and $2,500 to the Honor Corp upon receiving their 501(c) certificate.

Concerning Mountain RC&D, no motion was made due to a lack of financial information being presented.

In other news:

  • The commission approved 911 Director Mike O’Brien’s request to hire Tiffany Fisher as a full-time 911 dispatcher. Fisher’s starting salary will be $10 an hour pending a six-month probationary period while she finishes her certification.
  • The commission received three bids to replace the roof on the old jail building’s roof and the contract was awarded to Mark Mitchell, of Marlinton, at a cost of $31,546.
  • The Pocahontas County Towing Ordinance had its first reading. No action was taken, and the commission will hold the second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting.
  • The commission approved Tammie Alderman’s request to hire Kelly Fugate as a full-time Pocahontas County Day Report Officer, with a starting date of Wednesday, August 5. Fugate will receive a starting salary of $25,000 with full benefits.
  • In response to a request letter from the Camp Bartow Preservation group, the commission approved a one year extension from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2016.
  • The commission appointed Shawn Dunbrack to the Pocahontas County Emergency Medical Services Authority to fill an unexpired three year term. Dunbrack will serve until June 30, 2016.
  • The commission appointed three board members to the Pocahontas County Local Emergency Planning Committee for two year terms. Office of Emergency Services Director Mike O’Brien, Mayor Sam Felton, of Marlinton, and Kenny Lehman, of Durbin, will service two year terms expiring on September 30, 2017.
  • Tim Wade was appointed to the Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks Commission for a five year term, expiring on June 30, 2020.

The next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, at 5:30 p.m.

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