Ben Herrick of the Tucker County Planning Commission provided the Commissioners with a 2019 Report recapping their project involvement and future areas of focus for the betterment of Tucker County
By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County Commission was in session for over an hour as the agenda hosted several reports and informational presentations.. Reverend Neal Parsons opened the meeting with a prayer followed by The Pledge of Allegiance. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order with the approval of the previous meeting minutes.
Moore addressed the audience and guests first, beginning with Chamber of Commerce President Andy Snyder, who was present to extend an invitation to the commissioners to Tucker County Day at Charleston Cultural Center on February 5. He was also requesting $500 from the commission to assist in expenses related to the event. “It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the businesses and people of Tucker County,” Snyder stated. Moore added, “I want to say if you haven’t been there please go,” as it is open to all businesses and residents of the county. Moore made a motion to approve their request with Commissioners Fred Davis and Jon Bush in full support.
Kevin White, OEM Director, went next so he could attend another commitment. Things have been slow in his office recently with mostly working on paperwork. The 2019 EMPG paperwork has been submitted three weeks ahead of time, being one of three who have been ahead of schedule out of ten counties in the region. The sheltering trailer is on order in the amount of approximately $19,000, $15,000 of which was funded through a grant. White is checking with dealerships regarding the truck that is being purchased mostly with grant money and is working to secure a state bid offer. White has secured a bid for a carport to put over the trailers at the city garage lot which should be progressing in the near future.
Mike Rezac with W.Va. Risk Pool Insurance introduced himself to the commissioners and briefed them on the offerings provided through their company, who represents 50 of the 55 counties in W.Va. A lot of interests have been coming through their office regarding cyber security training and risk coverage, which they are the first in the state to offer such coverage. Multiple areas of training for personnel are also offered by the Risk Pool Insurance Company that comes to their clients to better serve them.
Ben Herrick offered the annual report of the Tucker County Planning Commission beginning with 2020 statistics and the importance of the planning commission, which is made up of eight volunteers, Commissioner Jon Bush, County Planner Dennis Filler, with one vacancy. He then recapped some of the highlights of 2019 the planning commission was involved in, such as the proposed Big Run Hydro Plant, saying, “I think we lost an opportunity with that one.” He also mentioned the proposed Subdivision Ordinance that is being re-evaluated as a land use plan with special attention being paid to the incoming exits off of Corridor H. The main priorities for a land use plan would be for public safety, sanitation, and maintenance. The W.Va. Law Clinic is assisting in these efforts.
They began working on the ongoing Smart Growth America project alongside the USDA and the incoming Corridor H, stating, “The routing looks beautiful for us.” He continued with interests in storage systems for renewable energy sources, transportation infrastructure, and the naturally occurring arts community in the Thomas and Davis areas. Workforce housing is also a topic on their radar as well as welcoming Perfect North Slopes and assisting them as they take over the former Timberline Four Season Resort. The commission currently has approximately $6,000 to work with and is requesting an additional $4,000 for the coming fiscal year. Expected expenditures for those funds includes approximately $3,500 to the WVU Law Clinic, $1,500 for the Extension Service for their assistance on the comprehensive plan, a contribution has been made on the planning commissions behalf towards Tucker County Day, therefore funds left are limited. Moore thanked Herrick for his report, stating, “You have done a marvelous job.” Bush expressed his thoughts on the importance of a land use regulations due to the quickly approaching Corridor H and the undeveloped exits already in place. “It’s not the if, it’s when,” Bush reiterated. “I don’t think it’s something we can push down the road very far, my personal opinion.”
Elected officials reports began with Deputy Chief M.J. Sigley, on behalf of the Tucker County Sheriff’s Office. He reported approximately 1,300 calls received in 2019 leading to around 110 cases. They have been working on vehicle issues and looking for grants to assist in those needs. Moore asked if the communication system has been working satisfactory with Deputy Chief M.J. Sigley responding, “It just depends on where you’re at.” Bush asked if there has been any discussion regarding a heavier county police presence in the Thomas and Davis locations noting there have been several requests for such. It was brought up that with the new facility in Davis there is a location for the officers to work out of, however there is not adequate equipment yet such as a phone line into that side of the building and other things that are needing addressed. “I think we’ve had enough requests that a presence up there would be great,” Bush continued. “I know a couple guys come from up there and it would be kind of a nice fit.” Davis asked what the police would need at that facility to accommodate an officer from that location remaining on that side of the county barring no calls coming from another location, to which Chief Deputy M.J. Sigley said he wasn’t sure off hand but he would be happy to research that and provide the commissioners with a general needs list. However, he confirmed, “the guys are working hard,” with 12 cases so far in 2020.
Employee reports commenced with County Administrator Sheila DeVilder, who has submitted all reimbursement requests for the sprinkler systems that have been fully installed in the court house. The total reimbursement should be between $94,000 and $95,000. She has also discovered a grant she is working on to hire another deputy to serve as a school resource officer, which is greatly needed to be stationed at TCHS. The terms of this grant requires the county to contribute a 25% of the total grant amount of $125,000 for a three year time period with a required additional year beyond that. “It’s very competitive because it’s a United States Government grant, it’s not just a local West Virginia thing, so we’re going to try and see what happens,” she said.
Before moving on, Moore wanted to add a concern regarding the historical restoration grant that has been utilized to preserve the Tucker County Courthouse. He has received an email stating that part of the fees used to go into this program is proposed to be removed which will have a detrimental impact on the capabilities of this grant program. Moore urges everyone to express their opposition on House Bill 2221 that relates to this program.
Bailey Falls, Director of the Animal Shelter, was unable to attend but sent word with Davis regarding the recent rabies clinic that was held that resulted in running out of rabies vaccinations. Due to the overwhelming response, an additional clinic has been scheduled for Saturday, February 8 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the Thomas Volunteer Fire Department for all who wish to partake in the reduced cost vaccinations.
There were no correspondences which lead to unfinished business. Robin McClintock and Jonathan Hicks were both requesting re-appointment to the Planning Commission, both for three year terms, as well as Ed Evans seeking a position on the Parks and Recreation Board, also for a three year term. A motion was made and all commissioners agreed. There were no road names or addresses to consider at this time.
New business consisted of hiring a part time animal shelter employee that will serve as a fill in when needed, not as a regularly scheduled employee. Davis made a motion to hire Katelyn Falls with all in agreement. There were no erroneous assessments; payments were approved as presented, as well as the approval of the new phone system which will be paid out of the special 911 fund.
Commissioner’s reports began with Moore noting a recent meeting held with approximately 20 first responders, saying, “It was one of the better meetings we’ve had.” All parties discussed issues each entity was facing as well as possible solutions.
Davis recently attended a Solid Waste Authority meeting and expressed his hopes the new board can help guide the landfill “to see better days.” Bush had nothing to report on at this time. This concluded the meeting of the Tucker County Commissioners with their next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 12 at 9 a.m. Public attendance is always welcome and encouraged.