GVEDC meets in the county

The Greenbrier Economic Development Corporation, which serves Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties, convened its meeting at The Inn at Mountain Quest in Frost Thursday.
GVEDC Executive Director Stephen Weir reported that the VA Clinic in the Rahall Building in Maxwelton has, once again, shut its doors because of air quality concerns. This has been an ongoing issue with the clinic, just one of several businesses located there.
Weir had a 52-page report from Montrose Environmental of Easton, Pennsylvania, with regard to formaldehyde levels in the clinic. That report showed the levels to be very low, not more, and maybe less, than those reported by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), Weir said.
An April 16 article in The Pocahontas Times reported on those findings:
“Air levels of formaldehyde measured by the NIOSH on March 26, 2015, were above their Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) of 0.016 parts per million (ppm) at 0.017 ppm within parts of the clinic.”
The situation has attracted the interest of elected officials, as well.
A press release from Senator Joe Manchin’s office Monday stated that he “and Shelley Moore Capito, along with Representative Evan Jenkins, spoke with United States Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Bob McDonald regarding the reopening of the Greenbrier Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). Reopening the facility would save thousands of West Virginia veterans from driving several hours to seek treatment.
“[The Greenbrier CBOC] was shut down, and we have to reopen it,” Secretary McDonald committed. He also agreed to attend a town hall event in Greenbrier County to speak directly to veterans.”
As for issues closer to home, Weir said the GVEDC has drafted a sample letter, not yet distributed, asking Pocahontas County’s local and state elected officials to facilitate the WVDOH’s acquisition of the building at the Edray Industrial Park.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Business Manager Mike Holstine updated the GVEDC about the current status of that location. Working under the cloud of the National Science Foundation’s threatened divestment of the Green Bank Telescope, the facility has worked to generate outside funding through projects such as the Russian RadioAstron. Keeping the NRAO in operation provides 145 jobs in Pocahontas County, Holstine said.

Snowshoe President Frank DeBerry told the board that the resort is hosting one large-scale event per month this summer as it works to sustain local businesses in anticipation of the return of winter visitors. But as with many businesses today, the biggest challenge is finding drug-free employees, DeBerry said.

At this point, Snowshoe is bringing in workers from other areas and The Inn at Snowshoe has converted two-thirds of its rooms into housing for seasonal employees.

Much discussion centered around broadband, and the lack thereof in the county.

Holstine spoke about the Broadband Summit which was held at the NRAO the previous day, and DeBerry and Weir confirmed the need for improved service.

“A person in Pocahontas County can be a graphic designer for anyone in the world,” DeBerry said. “It’s a world-wide opportunity. But without broadband, it cannot be done. This global economy would give kids an opportunity to stay in their communities and work in their home communities.”

Weir agreed.

“If you want to talk to young people, what you need is broadband and good grade schools,” Weir said. “They go hand-in-hand.”

For more information on the work and mission of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation visit gvedc.com

Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@pocahontastimes.com

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