During its meeting on Tuesday morning, the Pocahontas County Commission reorganized for the new year, but made very little change. The commission unanimously voted to keep Commissioner David Fleming as its president and made one change in board assignments. Commissioner Jamie Walker will replace Fleming on the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau board.
During board updates, Commissioner William Beard reported on the latest meeting of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. Beard said the Greenbrier Valley Brewery is continuing its move into the Rahall Building in Maxwelton. In addition, the Mountain Lumber Company is re-locating its headquarters from Charlottesville, Virginia to the Rahall Building – filling the industrial building to its capacity.
Beard said he wished more businesses would move to Pocahontas County.
“Steve Weir is doing an excellent job at the GVEDC,” Beard said. “But the problem is getting people to come up here. We just need to get some jobs up here. The problem is transportation.”
Beard reported there was minimal damage at the Edray Industrial Park building as a result of a recent water leak, because the interior of the building is not entirely finished. The commissioner said there is a possibility that the Pocahontas County Division of Highways would relocate its garage to the Edray facility. The GVEDC pays a monthly mortgage payment of $9,000 on the vacant industrial site.
Beard expressed thanks to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, which recently completed a draft Emergency Response Plan.
“I have never been a member of a group that worked so well together,” he said. “They showed a lot of dedication and deserve thanks for their hard work.”
The commission voted 3-0 to approve a new purchasing policy, which prohibits county offices from purchasing non-business-related items, such as Christmas decorations and holiday messages in the newspaper. Commissioner Jamie Walker stated that the commission should have control over purchasing for public holiday decorations, rather than individual offices.
Sheriff David Jonese told the commission he was ending the Sheriff’s Auxiliary program because of IRS rules that classify Auxiliary volunteers as employees. Jonese requested commission approval to hire Auxiliary member Dreama Sharp as a part-time employee, which the commission granted. The sheriff said he had sufficient funds in his budget to pay Sharp, who will receive $9.50 per hour and no benefits. The sheriff said officers would resume conducting prisoner transports, a task previously performed by the Auxiliary.
Water Resources Task Force coordinator Lynmarie Knight updated the council on task force progress. Knight said the state had accepted the county’s water resource plan, and that a website with county water information would go online in February. Knight said the task force had solicited and received applications for a new coordinator, because she will be resuming her education this year.
Newly hired Day Report Center Director Tammie Alderman reported on the status of the program. Alderman said she had met with all local judges and magistrates to discuss the program, and would be providing the officials with a monthly report. The director said she thought better communication would help achieve her goal of increasing the caseload of the Day Report Center. Alderman said she had spoken with Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith about community service projects for the spring. The director said all but one of the current Day Report Center clients have full-time employment, which limits the amount of service hours they can perform.
Hannah Mitchell, representing the Artisan’s Cooperative, reported that the group had become a successful small business generator for 34 local craftsmen and artists. Mitchell said the group’s retail sales had nearly doubled from the previous year to $104,953 in 2013. According to Mitchell, a new gift shop at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park had been largely responsible for the increase in sales. The cooperative received $5,000 from the commission last year and is expected to request a portion of the county’s hotel/motel tax proceeds during the next commission meeting.
In other business, the commission:
– heard an update from Pocahontas County Seniors Program director John Simmons;
– accepted a 2014 gasoline bid from Woodford Oil for Marathon rack price plus 15 cents;
– and tabled action on a holiday leave and pay policy.
The next regular county commission meeting is scheduled for January 21 at 5:30 p.m.