Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

The Pocahontas County Commission had a full agenda for its Tuesday morning meeting and it kept commissioners in their seats past noon.

Bob Orndorff, State Policy Manager for Dominion, was present at the meeting to give a brief overview of the proposed construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Pocahontas County and summed up by saying, “We will protect the pristine environment of Pocahontas County to the best of our ability.”

He then introduced Denise Campbell and Mike Cozad who will be the company’s West Virginia community liaisons on the ACP project.

Campbell will be based in Elkins and will be responsible for construction questions and general commun- ications between Dominion and the citizens of Pocahontas and Randolph counties.

Cozad, who is located in Buckhannon, will focus on Upshur and Lewis counties.

Campbell was asked if she would be primarily in the office or in the field.

“I already have my hard hat and my steel toed boots,” Campbell said. “My schedule has me reporting to a job site at 6 a.m. every morning, six days a week.” 

The three were questioned about traffic, whether there will be “man camps” and where the heavy equipment would be stored.
“Dominion respects this community too much to put man camps here,” Orndorff said. “We have been making arrangements and reservations for housing for workers in several areas of the county.”

The company says that Pocahontas County can expect that, between now and mid-March, there will be an influx of 400 to 500 pipeline workers to the area.

The entire project is expected to take two years, with the most of the work in the Durbin and Green Bank areas to be completed in 2018 and the work near Snowshoe to be completed in 2019.

The two main contractor yards which will store large equipment will be in Frost and another one located in the Valley Head area.

Each “construction spread” will encompass 15 to 20 miles, with several construction spreads going on simultaneously.
Dominion has made a commitment that 50 percent of its workforce will be West Virginians, and they will be opening employment opportunities first to local union labor.

An open house will be held in Marlinton in March. More information about date and location will be forthcoming.

Anyone who has questions about ACP construction, employment or how to apply to be a vendor on the project, is encouraged to attend.

In the meantime, anyone with questions about pipeline construction for Denise Campbell may contact her at denise.campbell@erm.com

Towing Ordinance approved

Commissioners approved the amended Emergency Towing Ordinance, which contains guidelines for providing prompt and effective response to emergency situations requiring towing services.

The ordinance creates three territories in the county.

The northern and southern territories follow the boundaries established for county fire departments.

The northern area will be served by Murphy’s Body and Repair and Wrecker Service, LLC. and Varner Towing, LLC.

Southern towing services will be provided by Back Mountain Service, LLC., Eddie’s Service Center, LLC., F & F Service Center, and Johnny Dean dba Johnny’s Garage. 

The central part of the county has a significant need for towing services, especially during the winter months. Therefore, all six towing services registered as common carriers in the county will be included in the rotational call-out list.

Funding Requests

Commissioners awarded funds to the following: 

• High Rocks – $4,000

• The Town of Durbin – $5,000

• Pocahontas County Humane Society – $4,000.

Report

Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cara Rose gave a quarterly update from the CVB, which included:

• Statistics show an 18 percent increase in tourism during July to November 2017

• So far this winter, Snowshoe has recorded 80 inches of snow

• Pocahontas County is applying for membership to International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) to raise their mountain biking tourism profile

• Delivered the new Agritourism brochure that the CVB produced

• The Cal Price Enrichment Series is on target to expand 

• Delivery of the 2018 Pocahontas County Visitor Guide

• The new Pocahontas County tourism website is set to be released by the end of February

• Announcement of the new destination “brand” of the county, “Nature’s Mountain Playground,” that old slogan will now be featured prominently in advertising and tourism packaging.

In his report, counsel Bob Martin advised the commission that he had sent a letter to Emma Eisenberg thanking her for her $5,000 gift to the county and reported that it had been awarded to the Opera House for its summer student drama workshop.

In other matters, the commission

• received a negative reply from Dominion with regard to the commission’s request for a contribution toward water testing in the county

• adopted the proclamation recognizing Pocahontas County as a Purple Heart County. 

• approved the newly drafted Pocahontas County Fire Association Standards of Operation.

• appointed Randy Wilfong to the Fire Board for a two and a half year term expiring June 30, 2020.

• tabled renewal of Shentel Cable’s franchise

• took no action on the memorandum of agreement between Trout Unlimited, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Pocahontas County Water Resources and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

• Took no action on Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Bennett’s request to adjust the timing of the distribution of hotel/motel funds. Currently, Parks and Rec has to borrow money from their line of credit to pay expenses in February.

Commissioners went into executive session to discuss its annual audit.

The commission will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20.