By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Reverend Pat Cassidy of Sycamore Grove Church offered the blessing over the meeting with The Pledge of Allegiance thereafter. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order with Commissioner Fred Davis motioning to approve the minutes from the last meeting.
Audience and guests were addressed first, beginning with Nancy Moore, Director of Five Rivers Library in Parsons, and Debbie Williams, Director of Mt. Top Library in Thomas. “Libraries are a vital part of the communities,” began Moore as she addressed the commissioners. The total population of the county is 7,141 which are served by these facilities, not including visitors to the area. Both establishments offer a variety of resources including books, magazines, audio books, movies, and online options accessible with a library card. Other services are provided such as fax, laminating, copies, tax forms, The Parsons Advocate available on microfilm, genealogy research, internet access, and WiFi.
There are multiple programs offered including a book club discussion group, painting classes, holiday crafting opportunities, monthly movie night, summer reading, and color time classes. Both also offer database programming such as the ancestry library edition, West Virginia Info Depot, and ABC Mouse. The staff provides assistance with items such as resumes, cover letters, employment services, and DMV and research assistance. “We hear many success stories from patrons coming back in and saying how we helped them with a resume or job application where they have obtained a job,” said Moore.
This summer, a merger will be taking place with Mountain Library Network to form a W.Va. library network which will be made up of 37 counties, 97 public libraries, and seven academic school and special libraries. “We will have access to so many more books and things that we can do in our library alone for patrons,” Moore explained. Moving into the funding request, she thanked the Tucker County Commission for their past supports of both libraries, stating that, “Without your funding, we would not meet the requirement to receive our grant and aid in full.” They are required to match each dollar in order to receive those funds. “Local tax base money has to be more than non tax based,” she explained. Moore also informed the commissioners if the funding is cut at the state level, libraries may be required to pay for their own internet services, which is currently covered by federal funds. The circulation for Five Rivers is over 10,000, computers and wireless users over 3,000, eight public internet access computers, over 16,000 materials available within their facility, over 13,000 annual visits, with a program attendance of 741. Williams offered some information for the Mt. Top Library, including a new group for parents who homeschool, which has tripled in attendance. Some statistics for the Thomas library include a service population of approximately 3,100, operation hours of 34 hours per week, program attendance of 485, 6,652 materials available within the facility, over 3,400 computer and wireless users, and a circulation of over 4,300. “Our request for the next fiscal year is $12,000 for each library,” Moore stated as she concluded her presentation. Moore thanked the library directors for their report and contribution to the communities they serve.
Mark Holstine with the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority giving his requested status report on the situation of the landfill. “I have been working diligently to secure funding through the public service commission and the DEP,” Holstine stated. The landfill is in need of equipment and fortunately has reduced leachate production. “We have cut expenses about as far as we can cut them and still operate,” he continued. There are some environmental issues that are being addressed but as Holstine explained, funding would help eliminate a lot of those issues if not all. There has been no response relating to the rate increase request or the progress of the investigation.
Commissioner Davis had requested James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department provide an update to the commission on the Corona Virus. This information has sense changed and will be provided in an additional article.
Jeff Smell, owner of Country Roads Leasing, introduced himself and his company to the Tucker County Commission, making them aware of the services they offer if the need ever arises. They offer equipment leasing and purchasing options, including but not limited to cruisers, computers, construction equipment, and more. This company has been in business for 10 years and is looking to branch out.
Moving into employee reports, County Administrator Sheila DeVilder began by stating she has been in contact with the architect who has been looking at the brick restoration for the Courthouse. This has been made possible through a historical grant and it is expected to begin earlier than in years past. Moore requested the next project to be considered is the old jail house after the completion of the Courthouse.
Brett Ware, Director of 911, provided the commissioners with the February 911 phone system report, showing a total of 253 calls answered with an average answer time of 4.6 seconds. Recently Ware went to Charleston to lobby with other 911 agencies and state representatives on House Bill 4123, which will recognize 911 dispatchers as first responders. This bill has been through the house and senate and is awaiting a signature from Governor Justice.
Ware noted he is working on a grant alongside OEM to upgrade the communication system in the command trailer. “The goal is to place some equipment on the tower so when we do set up the mobile command unit, we can provide a 360 degree blanket of WiFi capable of serving up to 3,000 clients of a distance of approximately 2,000 foot radius.” He feels if the grant goes through and these upgrades are made that the unit will be requested frequently to be utilized.
The 911 center received new radio equipment supplying five new stations in preparation for the statewide upgrade. Ware also met with Premier Construction who has constructed approximately 80% of the radio towers within the state. They evaluated the site near the water tower where Ware feels would be an ideal spot to service our area. The representative feels the entire project would cost less than $200,000. He explained the tower would be approximately 200 feet tall and free standing (no guide wires) taking up a footprint of only seven foot square. He stated this would offer the opportunity to provide additional carriers for both cell phones and broadband to the area. A quote is expected later in the week with more accurate numbers. Moore asked if there would be any concern with the structure being free standing, to which Ware explained the construction and situation of the unit should be safe and structurally sound as the Department of Highway Tower at Centennial Park.
Kevin White, Director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), began by reiterating some of what Snyder reported on with the Corona Virus. “I just want to make the community aware that we are prepared,” he stated. Other information shared by White in this report will be covered in the additional article.
He continued updating the commissioners that the new trailer is approximately two weeks out and the truck an estimated six to 10 weeks. He is continuing to work on grants for the EOC updates as well as the commodity flow and EOP update projects.
County Planner and Litter Control Officer Dennis Filler offered a litter control update. “During this month we’ve already done one site visit to a litter complaint and then two notices of violations have been issued for a resolution,” he began. “Construction season is starting,” stated Filler as one construction permit has already been issued to Timberline Mountain for chairlift replacement, snowmaking repair, and lodge rehabilitation. “That’s approximately an $8.5 million investment per numbers they have provided,” he stated. Another permit for an extension was also issued to the DNR who is performing habitat work, and another permit is expected to be issued later today for a new construction of a home in the Timberline area.
Shifting into the planning sector, cost effective options are being considered for improving sewage within Tucker County, particularly in the area of Davis and Thomas as well as within the landfill. “On the phone installs, Joe (Dumire) and Benny (Kisamore) have ran over a mile of cable for the telephone system,” Filler said. That project is moving forward as discussion revealed the equipment is on order with hopes to begin installation within the next month. April 1 is Census Day with representatives beginning to arrive within the county to secure as accurate of data as possible. A proclamation will be submitted to the commissioners soon to observe April 1 as Census Day.
There were no correspondences, county board appointments, or road names to review. This brought the meeting to new business noting that item one, the library funding request, will be in consideration. Item two was listed as event regulations which came from the Tucker County Fair Board. Bush stated, “I’d like to make a motion to agree with parks and rec’s decision to allow the request of Tucker County Fair Board for compliance with special events approval per state requirements.” All were in favor of this motion.
There was one erroneous assessment to review that has already been approved by Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora. The payments followed for approval which Davis made a motion to approve with both Moore and Bush in agreement.
Commissioner reports began with Moore stating he attended the Historical Landmark Commission meeting as well as the informational meeting held by the extension office. Bush announced he and Eldon Plaugher recently had a conversation regarding the trees that have been cut for the incoming highway but have been left lay. Plaugher, being a professional in the industry, informed Bush that if the timber is left lay for a couple more weeks given the weather habits, it will no longer be of any value. It was estimated that anywhere from $60 to $90,000 worth of timber has been cut and could benefit the locals if not already contracted with a company. The commissioners are going to look into this matter. Filler announced he has requested a speed restriction in the Holly Meaddows area be implemented due to the construction and workers frequenting the area, with the commissioners in full support of that suggestion.
Davis reported he has been receiving calls from citizens wanting their roads fixed. He visited the Department of Highways and was told that as soon as the mix is ready they will begin making repair. Davis then stressed making the public aware that the highway lines on Route 219 is under contract and will be painted as soon as the timeframe for painting opens. This only occurs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, however Tucker County is made a priority due to the danger and weather in the area. Signs have also been ordered for the top of Sugarlands and Leadmine to try and prevent semi- trucks from accessing these roads.
This concluded the meeting of the Tucker County Commissioners. They will convene again on Wednesday, March 25 at 4 p.m.