There were few seats remaining as the Tucker County Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order. With such a large crowd present for specific agenda items, Moore went slightly out of order to allow the audience the option to leave after the main topic of the Second Amendment was discussed. Reverend Kevin Keplinger asked for the blessing over the meeting followed by The Pledge of Allegiance.
First order of business however was to approve the previous meeting minutes, which was done so by a motion from Commissioner Fred Davis. Moore read the resolution stating, “Now, thereby it be and is hereby resolved that the Tucker County Commission does hereby express its support of the Second Amendment to the United States constitution and urge that it continue to protect at the local, state, and national level.” Upon completion of the resolution being read, the crowd erupted in applause. Moore asked for any objections or corrections, and being none, made a motion to accept that resolution with Commissioners Fred Davis and Jon Bush in full support.
Jim Summerfield thanked the commissioners for their support but had a question about what would happen when newly elected commissioners come in and if they can abolish the resolution just voted in. Moore was unsure how to legally answer that question, but felt it would be difficult to change and ensured everyone understood this was not an ordinance, but rather a resolution which is in support of something. “I assure it won’t be changed under any of our watch,” Moore assured.
Lynette Helmick asked if this resolution made Tucker County a sanctuary as other counties have claimed. He explained the Tucker County Commission supports the Second Amendment, but chose to leave out the word “sanctuary” due to legality issues. Helmick asked if this resolution could be made into an ordinance, though without the topic going to public vote it cannot. Several other individuals had signed up to speak, however in lieu of the passing of the resolution no one felt the need to do so. However, being protected by the state and national constitution, this should not become an issue. Moore thanked everyone for taking an interest in this topic, stating, “I think it’s very important for Tucker County and West Virginia, we appreciate you showing up and showing support.”
Paul Pennington representing the Tucker County High School FFA Chapter asked to address the commission. Several officers and members stepped forward to express what FFA means to them and the importance of the organization. In order for them to participate in several of the educational components and competitions, they have been working diligently to fundraise to pay their way. However, competing with the other school groups and activities throughout the county can make it difficult to raise the needed funds. Autumn Knotts, Vice President of the FFA, asked the commission if they could provide $5,000 to help with their annual events. “I know we’re asking for a lot,” added Pennington, however after a trip to Nationals costing nearly $7,000, the funds ended up depleted. He also asked if FFA could be added to the commission annual budget with an estimate of $12,000 to $14,000 operating cost annually for the organization. Davis asked how much money the board of education contributes to the program, which Pennington replied they receive nothing from them for the FFA. Moore and Pennington discussed the fiscal year and budgets for the county, though Moore ensured they will do all they can to continue to support the FFA and Tucker County students. The students filtered through before leaving to shake the hands of the commissioners and thanking them for their continued support. Their request will be discussed at an upcoming budget meeting.
Margot Evick with the Randolph Tucker Child Advocacy Center presented next, offering a packet of information to the commissioners and thanking them for their continued support and operating space. She noted the CAC saw 138 new children last year and answered 2,665 advocacy calls in 2019. They are in Tucker County about two days per week and went to TCHS to provide prevention training to all the county teachers. Updates have been made to their office to aid in confidentially as well. A more thorough protocol has been developed for drug endangered students, which increased their caseload from 14% to 30% seen relating to drugs. The CAC is asking again for $16,000, the same as last year, though offered to give up $1,000 if it would be used to benefit the students such as the FFA. “We appreciate your concern for our youth,” Moore assured. The request was tabled until time to review the budget in the months to come.
Jeff Fellers and Kelly Stadleman presented on behalf of the Tucker Community Foundation also offering packets of information and requesting funds for the annual Run For It event. Commission typically contributes $5,000 to the event which has an approximate return of nearly $100,000. Commission has supported this event since 2009 that has an approximate return over the years of over $1 million back into the county. The event is scheduled for September 26, 2020 and this request was tabled as well.
Amanda Pitzer and Jenny Newland with Friends of the Cheat came forward to brief the commissioners on opportunities within Tucker County and request their support for the Mountaineer Trail Network, though not through monetary support. Newland expressed a need for a county wide plan for trails and what that would entail. Both feel this trail network could bring substantial benefits to the area. “I have optimism this could be a game changer for the whole region,” Pitzer said.
Hunter Mullens, an attorney involved in the opioid litigation, was present to brief the commissioners on the status of the case. This required an executive session to discuss being an ongoing litigation. Upon returning, Moore noted no decisions were made.
There were no elected official’s reports moving the meeting into employee reports. County Administrator Sheila DeVilder stated she is continuing to work on a grant for a school resource officer. Director of 911 Brett Ware briefed the commissioners that a quote was received for the microwave system of over $138,000, which does not include training or spare parts. Ware mentioned that quote to the state 911 council and they agreed for what Tucker 911 was trying to achieve that the price was excessive. They asked Ware for other options which he has been seeking with a potential being erecting a tower in conjunction with the city cooperation. He will be meeting with the city officials next week to ask for permission to begin a land use study to determine if their location will be suitable for this possibility. A quote has not been secured yet for a tower on Fork Mountain but they are in the beginning of the process to find other options. Ware also said radios were received as a backup system with a quote for approximately $13,000 to have them installed. “What that’s going to allow us to do is, regardless if we’re on microwave or using Frontier’s phone lines, we’re going to be able to operate,” concluded Ware.
There were no correspondences or road names to consider. Bush made a motion to rescind Ed Evans from the Parks and Recreation Board until he meets with the board and then re-applies. Bush feels he will be an asset to the committee, though proper procedure must be followed. There was also a motion by Bush to add Daniele Wilfong to the Parks and Recreation Board; all were in approval on both motions. Jacob Kopec had submitted an application to be considered for the 911 Advisory Board; however, no vacancies currently exist.
New business moved directly to a funding request for the Tucker County Senior Companion Volunteer Service, which was tabled until further information is received. Next for discussion was the Region VII Small Cities Block Grant final performance, which finishes the Hamrick PSD updates and water lines up Location Road. This will finalize the project and close the project with Davis making a motion for Moore to sign off on the final bill payments with all in agreement. A resolution was presented to allow Moore to act on behalf of the commission and the relationship with the Community Correction, Davis made a motion on this behalf with all in favor.
Another executive session was needed to discuss the hiring of part time 911 dispatchers. Upon returning, it was recommended to hire Adam Bomer and Camey Nestor as 911 dispatchers on a part time basis effective today, all were in favor. There were no erroneous assessments and all payments were approved as presented.
Moore quickly noted all three commissioners attended the County Commissioners Association meeting a few weeks back and he, Davis, and Assessor Chris Michael then attended the W.Va. Association of Counties. Moore and Davis agreed there were great speakers and interesting discussions that took place, including that of medical marijuana.
This concluded the meeting for the Tucker County Commission. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26 at 4 p.m.