At the June 23 meeting the Pocahontas County Commission voted to award the bid for Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s expansion to Paramount Builders of St. Albans. Two bids were received, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which is funding the $5.7-million loan for the project, had disqualified the other bidder as being over-priced. The USDA had closely examined and vetted the county’s loan application, then approved it in January. The commission is putting its final approval to formally accept the USDA loan on the agenda for a special meeting Tuesday, June 28, at 5 p.m.
Lisa Cutlip, Manager of the Snowshoe Resort Community District (SRCD,) once again asked the commission to provide the SRCD with $50,000 from the county’s $1.6-million American Rescue Plan funds, or from other county funding sources, to help buy uniforms, law enforcement equipment and a squad car for the new SRCD Ranger Law Enforcement Department. Commission President Walt Helmick said they are reserving much of their American Rescue Plan funds for possible use in building a courthouse annex, but would consider Cutlip’s request in the future. Cutlip said it was necessary to start their own state-recognized local law enforcement agency since they feel they are not receiving timely responses for 911 calls at the Snowshoe Community from other law enforcement departments in the county.
Also relating to the courthouse annex project, during a discussion of received mail items, it was mentioned that the state’s Courthouse Improvement Authority is once again accepting applications for grants. The county’s last request for a grant from them for this project had been denied, but the commissioners indicated they will re-apply for this new round of grant monies.
Sara Cottingham, representing the Mountaineer Trail Network, told the commission that the Network was inviting Pocahontas County to join 15 other West Virginia counties as a member. She explained that the Mountaineer Trail Network concentrates on bikes and boat trails in the northern part of the state, and was established by the State Legislature in 2019. It is modeled on the Hatfield McCoy Trail System, but without the ATVs. Cottingham said Pocahontas County was asked to join this Preston County based organization because with its IMBA Ride Center, Pocahontas County is the “gold standard” for mountain biking in West Virginia. She said the advantages for joining include access to regional marketing and advertising; access to resources for trail maintenance; and liability protection for private landowners who allow the trails to pass through their property. The Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center supports the county joining the Mountaineer Trail Network. The commission approved joining, and asked Cara Rose and Evan Cole to represent the county on the Network’s Board of Directors.
In other actions, the commission:
• issued a resolution to accept the $51,000 Community Corrections 2022-2023 Grant.
• approved submitting an application for the Community Block Hazardous Mitigation Grant which, if approved, would fund the relocation of the 911/EMS facility.
• approved a contract with MindEase Solutions to provide therapeutic training for the Day Report Program.
• received an update on the progress of the Broadband Council in bringing better broadband coverage to the county.
• approved all of the banks with branches in the county to be county depositories for the upcoming year.
• approved a small portion of the Opioid Litigation Settlement.
• approved making an offer for a lot on Droop Mountain for use as a 911 communication tower site.
• approved auctioning off, with a reserve of $5,000, a county-owned Ford Expedition that is not needed.
• approved the West Virginia County Risk Pool’s proposed insurance premiums for the upcoming fiscal Year.