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Water Task Force concerns faced at Wednesday’s commission meeting

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

The Pocahontas County Commission filled several vacancies on local boards during its meeting Tuesday morning, but it was the continuation of the Pocahontas County Water Task Force Coordinator Grazia Apolinares’ contract that garnered the most attention.

It was recently brought to the commission’s attention that Apolinares was not living in Pocahontas County but had taken a residence two hours north. The commission was unsure as to whether or not the Pocahontas County Water Task Force’s Steering Committee was aware of the change in Apolinares’ residency and wanted to address it.

“There’s been a whole lot of concerns over you living as far away as you do and getting the job done,” Commission President Bill Beard said as he addressed Apolinares. “Concerns have been voiced around the county over paying someone who’s not living here, as well.”

Apolinares said she moved outside the county because she could not a place to live. The water source dried up at the house where the previous Water Task Force Coordinator lived – thus, Apolineares said, it was no longer a viable option.

Steering Committee member Beth Little spoke on the matter, as well. She reported that the board was aware of Apolinares’ living situation and that it had been discussed at its last meeting in February, along with the contract’s renewal and what work still needed to be completed.

However, Little stated that the board was unaware that it would be an issue.

“She [Apolinares] has been doing a great job,” Little added, “and should she continue, an enormous amount of the job involves driving all over the place. It takes two hours to drive from one end of the county to the other. The board didn’t think that finding somewhere else to live would be a problem.”

Commissioner David McLaughlin was publicly appointed to take former Commissioner David Fleming’s place on the Steering board and was never notified of the meeting in February, nor any of the board’s previous meetings.

Apolinares, Little and the rest of the Steering Committee were unaware that McLaughlin had been appointed.

The commission addressed other concerns relating to the Water Task Force position, as well – including the need for Apolinares to bring her business license to the courthouse by July 15 so her checks can be made payable to her business.

Additionally, corrections were made to the way Apolinares has been addressing her time sheets. As a contracted position for the commission, Apolinares should not be submitting time sheets. She does not work the routine 40-hours as a county employee might, and therefore needs to submit weekly reports outlining what she has accomplished each day.

No motion was made.

In other news:

  • Damon Brock and Ron Fleming were appointed to the Pocahontas County Emergency Medical Services Authority. Brock will serve as the Law Enforcement representative for a three-year term, expiring June 30, 2019, while Fleming will serve as the Physician representative for the remainder of an unexpired three-year term, ending June 30, 2018.
  • David Gandee, of Linwood, was appointed to the Pocahontas County Public Service District board for a six-year term, expiring June 30, 2022.
  • Stella Callison and Kristin Kinnison were appointed to the Pocahontas County Farmland Protection Board for individual four-year terms, expiring June 30, 2020. Callison was appointed to the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District, and Kinnison was appointed as a member of the Farm Bureau.
  • The commission approved the 2016-2017 Assigned Balance Coal Severance Tax Fund in its budget revisions and resolutions.

The next regular County Commission meeting is scheduled for July 19 at 5:30 p.m.

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