By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Commission President Lowell Moore addressed the audience and guests beginning with Emily Wilson-Hauger with Woodlands Development Group, a non-profit community developer. “In Tucker County we’ve been really focusing heavily on workforce housing development,” she informed. This group also partners with a lender to support business and economic development, such as an eight unit townhouse in Davis that is under construction. “That’s going to be huge,” Wilson-Hauger expressed as she explained this great need in the communities of the county. She also touched on the Blueprint Community and the recent acknowledgement of Parsons being named as such. The Woodlands Development Group assists with working with these communities and developing their vision plans and how to reach their goals. “So there’s a lot of exciting things going on,” she added. Moore inquired about the assistance Davis is receiving for dilapidated buildings, questioning if Parsons could qualify for the same program, which she confirmed they are definitely open to that. “Just know that we are a resource,” she concluded.
County Clerk Sherry Simmons began the elected official’s reports. “We have been working with complete system support,” which she explained is a connection program between different offices’ computer systems which will ensure cleaner accounting. “Shelly completed election training this week,” she said as they’ve been preparing for the 2018 -2019 audit with an upcoming workers compensation audit. Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora noted his office has been staying busy with several cases with upcoming trials and continuing investigations.
Employee reports followed with Joe Long, Maintenance Director. He said the completion of their supply building and the cabling being ran at the animal shelter for the new cameras. The brick on the court house is being estimated for potential repair on the next year’s grant as well, he stated. Sheila DeVilder, County Administrator, stated, “I went to the commissioner’s conference and learned a lot of valuable information there and met several people that would be great contacts in working with my new position.” She is working with others on the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant as well as attending a grant writing course.
Brett Ware, 911 Director gave his report, saying he sent four employees to a national conference in Baltimore, Md. He attended one evening visiting the multitude of vendors looking for ideas to bring back to Tucker County. “We do finally have all the equipment for CPR classes,” he said with a class being held this weekend for the Fire Departments. The classes typically run around four hours and are accredited through the American Heart Association. The general public can be on the lookout for a schedule to be distributed for upcoming courses. The phone system live date has been delayed slightly to September; however, it is a minor issue and should be corrected soon.
Moore asked Ware to speak on behalf of OEM Director Kevin White regarding the large limb that had fallen on Route 219, however Ware just returned to town and was not up to date on that info. According to Moore, a very large limb fell across the road and landed on the telephone lines, however the trees were appropriately removed, saving telephone service to the area.
Dennis Filler said he wanted to touch on two topics, one being litter control. “We’re making progress in Bretz, not saying we’re out of the woods yet, but I mean it is significant progress,” he began. “We now have good contacts with DEP, and DNR is working with us on issues throughout the county,” he added. A website is being developed for litter control that will allow for reporting and communications throughout the community about progress and updates of those reports. Filler also mentioned Tucker County will be forming a complete count committee for the 2020 National Census with a meeting to be held on August 21 at 10 a.m.
There was one correspondence from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation requesting support for the Friends of the 500th Headwaters Trail Boardwalk Project at the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge. The purpose of the project is to enhance public access to the wetland complex which will highlight diverse vegetation of the region. Moore moved to support this request, with both Commissioner Fred Davis and Commissioner Jon Bush in full agreement.
There was a request for a county board appointment of Brent Easton to the Solid Waste Authority. All were in agreement to reinstate his position with the SWA. There was a memorandum to correct the terms of some members of the Canaan Valley PSD, which were adjusted as presented.
Under new business, the line item for signage for the county entrance points was tabled due to a scheduling conflict of the representative. A resolution was presented to participate and cooperate within the local economic development grant program, which all three commissioners unanimously agreed upon. One bid has been received by ZMM to finish the sprinkler system in the court house. The amount was slightly over $120,000, which will be paid out of the courthouse restoration grant money, and was approved. A funding request had been made by the City of Thomas in regards to the water line repairs to the community of Douglas and other projects in the city. Moore moved to offer the city $10,000 with the stipulation that at least $5,000 be dedicated to the permanent repair of the water project and the remainder to be spent how the city council and mayor sees fit. This money will come from the coal severance taxes.
The next line item topic related to the relocation of precinct five. Moore asked Simmons to explain, which she informed they are presently located at the Tucker County Board of Education, and “We feel it is in the best interest of our citizens to relocate to this building so it is side by side with precinct four, we have adequate parking, the building is handicap accessible, and I feel it is to the best interest of the voting population in precinct five to move it to the original, old courthouse.” This means, precinct four will vote in the annex and precinct five, formerly at the TCBOE, will be at the traditional courthouse. Bush made the motion and all agreed to approve the relocation.
LaMora brought forth a recommendation for a new Atlantic Broadband phone system in lieu of recent issues with their older, Frontier system. He informed Atlantic Broadband is offering a package deal and was requesting permission to move forward with looking at a potential contract with the new provider to determine what is in the best interest of the offices in the building.
First and final waivers were reviewed by LaMora and brought forward to the county commission for approval, which were unanimous. A resolution by Community Corrections was presented and also approved. Simmons then explained the next line item regarding the re-appointment of the Richard Cline Estate. He was a resident of Tucker County who passed away in January and per his will, the representative was appointed executrix, however has failed to return the appraisement form within 90 days. “She has not acted accordingly to the West Virginia code, and we are asking to set a hearing to be able to appoint a fiduciary commissioner to process this estate,” she said. There are other heirs tied to this estate who have contacted Simmons’ office on this matter that cannot move forward without this hearing. She requested the hearing be held Wednesday, August 28 at 3 p.m. prior to the next county commission meeting. Moore made the motion with all in favor.
Continuing through the agenda, the commissioners were presented with request from Circuit Clerk Sharon Moats to acknowledge her new employee, Marcy Williams. Williams joined the Circuit Clerk office on August 19, 2019 and Moats stated, “She’s doing well.” The commissioners welcomed Williams to the courthouse family and wished her well in her new endeavor.
There were no erroneous assessments and payments were approved as presented. Davis began the commissioner’s reports stating he learned a lot at the previous commissioners meeting that was held at Canaan Valley. “Emily I appreciate what you have been doing in the county, you guys do a good job,” he said. Davis also commended Filler on his work towards the litter control and the Bretz cleanup. Moore agreed with Davis, saying, “We’re not out of the woods yet but we can see across the field.”
Bush reported he had met with Parks and Recreation the night prior. Bush has been focusing a lot of his attention on the issues at Camp Kid and ensuring the needed upgrades be made. “I think all they needed was somebody who actually knew what was going on there, that was interested on that end of the parks and rec project because they are very much committed to a couple of things we need to move on,” he said. Bush also commented on a conversation he had with another individual at the commissioners conference regarding encouraging younger generations to work. “We’re raising a generation of entitlement thinking,” he said. Bush feels educational opportunities may provide the opportunity to encourage individuals to work and contribute to society and make a little money at the same time.
Moore reported he recently attended the region seven quarterly meeting in Buckhannon and announced upcoming meetings at Canaan Valley for the Regional Development Council September 16 through the 18. This was the final order of business for this meeting of the Tucker County Commission. They will come together again on Wednesday, August 28 at 4 p.m.