By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Several familiar faces of former school employees occupied the seats at the recent gathering of the Tucker County Commission. The meeting began with Reverend Kevin Keplinger leading in a word of prayer followed by The Pledge of Allegiance. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order followed by the approval of the previous meetings minutes.
A proclamation was read as presented by the retired school personnel requesting the Tucker County Commission to declare the week of September 22 through September 28 as Retired School Personnel Week. Moore and Davis agreed also providing some historical statistics regarding the schools and population within the county. “In the school year of ’34 and ’35, there were 67 schools in Tucker County with 3,659 students. This past year we had right at I think an even thousand, give or take a few,” Moore said. He thanked the teachers for their service as he moved on in the agenda.
Moore recognized Hunter Mullens, an attorney from Barbour County, who is representing several counties in the statewide opioid litigation. He noted there is also a federal class action lawsuit ongoing that Tucker County can opt into, however Mullens recommended to stay in state court. Moore and Commissioner Fred Davis agreed, however Commissioner Jon Bush was not yet at the meeting due to car trouble, they decided to table the official decision until all commissioners are present.
Elected officials reports followed, with County Clerk Sherry Simmons providing an update on the grant she is preparing to present to the state. “If it had not been for the past and future grants, we would not be in the outstanding shape we are today,” she began. She spoke of the space allocated in the annex to maintain the records and historical documents of the county. “I intend to make the most of my time as custodian of the county records,” Simmons said, as she noted what it takes to properly maintain and restore these documents that are frequently utilized by the public. In this particular grant, Simmons is requesting funds for additional shelving, an additional work station, formatting, record scanning, and encapsulation and re-binding of the books. She explained the benefits of these processes which allow you to view and handle the documents without exposing them to the elements. The books the county clerk’s office staff is working on preserving next range in years from 1856 through 1963. Simmons provided an example of a need to reformat some of these documents as they are on black pages with white wording. The goal is to invert these pages with new technology to be on white pages with black writing. “If everything comes through with the grant I’m looking at approximately $30,000” she concluded, with the county responsibility for the grant being 1.1%.
Upon the conclusion of Simmons’ report, Moore asked everyone’s attention to go to item number three under new business where he read a resolution to support the Preservation Grant presented by Simmons and the office of the County Clerk staff. Moore made the motion with a second by Davis, motion carried.
Employee reports followed with County Administrator Sheila DeVilder stating she is in the final stages of a CFIA grant before submission. She also noted she had been working with Circuit Clerk Sharon Moats on the same preservation grant as Simmons has been to preserve their records as well. DeVilder recognizes and respects the needs for both offices to secure their documents, however due to the frequency of handling of those documents in the County Clerk office versus that of the Circuit Clerk, she felt it would be better to support the County Clerk request this year and assist the Circuit Clerk office in their efforts the next time the grant comes available since both cannot apply in the same year.
Kevin White, OEM Director, stated they are in the process of finalizing three grants, the first being through Stop the Bleed. The grant will provide four to eight kits in each school in conjunction with the training that was provided to teachers for their in-service at the beginning of the year. The other two grants were for a new truck and trailer to haul the new shelter equipment. OEM recently did a support training event at the Rubenstein Center along with several others they have performed this year. White gave a list of upcoming events including Run for It and Leaf Peepers. Communications have been in progress with continued stream clean up with the Conservation District leading to discussion over the low water issues. PVFD has performed two to three well fills but most residents have been hauling their own water from the tap in St. George. There has been a burn proclamation by Governor Justice that prohibits burning of any kind with the exception of State and Federal Parks in designated areas. This includes grills unless it is a propane grill. Finally, White noted over 100 hikers were in Otter Creek a couple weeks ago that were divided into groups of ten. One of the individuals succumbed to cardiac arrest and had to be carried out and unfortunately passed away due to this event.
There were no correspondences, county board appointments, or road names to address at this time. Simmons explained the next line item requesting the use of a copy of a will for probate. She explained the technicalities of the situation to the commissioners that has already been reviewed by Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora, and was asking for permission to use the copy of this will for probate. Moore made the motion with all commissioners in agreement. There was one erroneous assessment the commissioners approved pending approval from LaMora. Payments were approved as presented bringing the meeting to commissioner’s reports
Moore commented on the Regional Planning Committee meeting that was recently hosted by Canaan Valley, stating “We had a great turnout.” He also commented he, along with Commissioner Bush, County Planner Dennis Filler, and Assessor Chris Michael went to the Capital Building in Charleston and spoke on the house floor in regard to the windmill tax. Currently the county receives 5% of salvage value, which is minimal. “I think we got their attention, so hopefully that will generate something,” Moore said. Davis and Bush had nothing to report on at this time.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be Wednesday, October 9 at 9 a.m. The meeting will take place at the Tucker County Courthouse Courtroom and all are welcome to attend.