By: Cassady Rosenblum
The Tucker County Commission began its meeting by hearing from two local students, Celeste Vance and Abigail Shahan. Both girls are members of the Future Farmers of America club at Tucker County High School, and are seeking funds to travel to the national Future Farmers of America Conference held in Indianapolis this year. Vance told the commission that she raises cows, while Shahan shared she works as a gardener. So far, the girls’ FFA club has already raised $14,000. Commissioner Mike Rosenau told Vance and Shahan the fact that they have already raised that much money themselves makes him feel more likely to kick in county funds to sponsor their travel to Indianapolis. “When you put effort in…that’s sweat equity,” he said. “I have more of a tendency to help you.” The commission will vote on the matter at the next meeting.
The commission then heard several employee reports. Shelia Devilder, Tucker County Administrator is working on a grant to get a new HVAC system for the courthouse, which will keep the humidity down and presere the brick.
Beverly Cantrell, Deputy Director of the Tucker County 9-1-1 Center, reported that during the month of August, EMS received 118 calls for service. Cantrell said these numbers represent an uptick she attributed to COVID-19.
With respect to COVID-19, Kevin White, Director of Homeland Security Emergency Management, reported that as of Wednesday, September 22, there were about 82 active COVID-19 cases in the county. White relayed that anyone 65 or older may now receive a booster vaccine should they want one. Interested parties should call the Health Department for further information.
The commission then spent the majority of its meeting time discussing how to allot federal funds it received as part of the American Rescue Plan. Both the Canaan Valley Public Service District (PSD) and the Hamrick PSD requested funds for water infrastructure projects in the amounts of $314,500 and $121, 327 dollars, respectively.
In the case of Canaan Valley, the PSD plans to use the money to purchase new propane water heaters, and a new truck for doing line repairs. Commissioner Fred Davis emphasized the close relationship between infrastructure and tourism. As this paper has reported, half of the county’s 6% hotel/motel occupancy tax revenue goes toward funding Parks and Recreation, Fire and Emergency Services, and the Cultural District Authority. In 2020, the tax generated $322,149 dollars worth of revenue, and depends entirely on how many visitors stay at hotels such as Canaan Valley Resort. “If that [water] line up there [in Canaan] blows up, we don’t get that hotel/motel tax, and our county hurts,” Davis said. “Everything is a circle in this county.”
For this reason, the commission voted to approve the funding requests for the Canaan Valley and Hamrick PSDs.