By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons had a special message to share with the County Commission and all residents of the county. Her office takes part in a lot of genealogy searches with people coming in to track their heritage. “On Monday, we received a phone call from a Joe Hall in Oregon,” she began. Hall was recently in an antique shop in California when he came across a Purple Heart. The name on the medal was Paul R. Carr, which the military history reveals at 31 years of age, was one of 84 prisoners at the Battle of the Bulge on December 17, 1944 that was killed.
“Over the past two days, we have searched for family members and yesterday afternoon, one called us,” said Simmons. “It took a village, but we were able to find people that is associated with this person.” She explained that his wife at the time never remarried, and passed away in 2011 at the age of 94. Carr was the son of Martin and Margaret Carr and born in the Dry Fork area. He had several brothers and sisters, all of whom passed, adding to the difficulty of finding surviving family members.
After Hall was put into contact with the family member who resides in Virginia, he is planning to make the trip from Oregan to return this medal where it belongs. He is a retired military soldier himself and has made it his goal to purchase any medals he finds and return them to their families.
“When we lose sight and take for granted, you should read about the Battle of the Bulge and what these 84 men had to go through,” suggested Simmons. She thanked her staff and the members of the community who played a role in connecting these individuals. In a follow up email, Simmons stated, “This was the most touching story I have ever had the privilege of being a part of.”
Commissioner Jon Bush was participating via speaker phone as he is recovering from surgery. Bush stated he is home and doing better, though as with any transplant, he is being monitored closely. He added that his sister, also his organ donor, is home and doing well and he thanks everyone for the prayers and support during this time.
Jason Pitzer was present to speak to the Tucker County Commissioners on behalf of Northern Ridge Services, an industrial safety company. Their specialty is infectious control services which now includes disinfecting and neutralizes COVID-19 in addition to mold and other harmful occurrences. “We’re able to go into an area rapidly, within 12 hours, and neutralize everything from mold down within about 10 minutes,” explained Pitzer. He provided the commissioners with informational pamphlets to have on hand if the need for their services arise.
Two sets of minutes were presented for approval, one from July 22 and another from a special meeting held August 5. Commissioner Fred Davis made a motion to approve both minutes with all in approval.
Maintenance Director Joe Long began the employee reports confirming the phone line rewiring project is complete and the former Cooper and Preston Building is nearly ready to accommodate the Community Corrections Department. Long has been in contact with Wilson Restoration who will be finishing the brick on the Courthouse and plans are to begin that project soon. Commission President Lowell Moore recommended high precautions are taken to limit the dust, which Long responded that a newer dust control system is supposed to be in place within the company.
James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department provided his bi-weekly update relating to COVID-19. He requests citizens remain diligent to wear their masks and practice social distancing as experts suggest the disease could be in a second wave. “It’s definitely coming back with a vengence if you look at our numbers,” he stated. There are concerns with nearby counties experiencing large outbreaks especially within churches and nursing homes. “Our county, we continue to be blessed and very, very fortunate right now, we’re at 11 total cases since this started with 1 active case which will be released later this week,” he added. Tucker County has tested more than any other county with 37.5% of the population tested.
Snyder stated that he has been asked numerous times when this will be over, which he stated, “I think we need to dig our heels in and be prepared for a long haul.” He expressed hope for a vaccine and treatment plan to be forthcoming, but admitted, “We just don’t know.” He reiterated to continue wearing masks and social distance to assist in slowing the spread.
Sheila DeVilder, County Administrator, stated she recently attended auditor and county commission association training where seminars on the CARES Act spending was held. She has also called to find out the status of the Court Security Grant, but has yet to hear back from those entities.
Kevin White, Office of Emergency Management Director, told commissioners that the HRDF company is working on stream clean up efforts which is funded by federal dollars. “It is also an opportunity for locals to obtain employment if they’re unemployed” he added. Their temporary office is set up in the former Iron Bridge Bistro restaurant on Front Street. “They will not remove or do anything the property owner does not want,” White assured, and the laborers will seek permission from the owners before accessing the streams.
White continued by stating he has sent a letter of recommendation in an attempt to gain Cortland Acres and Mountain Top Clinic a new access entry from Route 219. “It’s not an easy way in and out,” he confirmed as the line of visibility is compromised with the flow of the road. With W.Va. Governor Jim Justice dedicating a portion of the CARES Act funds for road improvements, this location fits the requirements as it leads directly into care facilities.
To conclude his report, White stated that all roads with the exception of two have been marked as not suitable for large trucks. In addition, two of the volunteer fire departments within the county have also purchased new pagers that will assist in the communication issues frequently encountered.
Director of the Animal Shelter Bailey Falls briefed the commissioners that since July 1, 51 animals have been placed in either homes or within rescue partners. “We’ve placed 18 cats and dogs into adoptive homes and transported 23 kittens and puppies to our rescue partners,” she said with an additional 18 more planned in the coming days. Falls assured that all protective measures with COVID-19 are being taken to ensure the safety of the shelter staff and volunteers. It is believed that the increase in adoptions is largely in part of the online application process which allows for all documents to be completed online.
The Stanton Foundation COVID Relief Grant was applied for by the shelter, which ranges from $500 to $1,000 for dog specific vaccines and medications. Tucker County Animal Shelter was one of the recipients of the grants, though the exact amount is unknown at this time.
In addition, the shelter has recently partnered with the HART Animal Center, who received the Spay Together Grant. This enables them to offer no cost spay and neuter surgeries to shelters throughout the month of August. “That has been very helpful,” confirmed Falls. “We have already had 11 surgeries completed and between now and the end of August we have 20 more surgeries scheduled.” This saves the shelter approximately $3,000.
Simmons announced that beginning August 11 through October 28, applications are being accepted for absentee voter ballots. To request one, you can contact the county clerk’s office by phone, visit www.tuckercountycommission.com to download and mail in, or visit www.sos.wv.gov to submit an online request. “We still feel it is important to absentee vote,” said Simmons. This effort not only keeps voters safe but the entire community.
Early voting will run October 21 through October 31, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday voting is available on October 24 and October 31 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The General Election will be held November 3 at voter polling places, opening at 6:30 a.m. and closing at 7:30 p.m. It is unknown at this time if the Courthouse will be open on election night.
A letter from Micrologic was received by the commission pertaining to the construction of the 911 communication tower. Commission President Lowell Moore read the letter and stated that no action will be taken on this item at this time. A meeting is being held between commission, the City of Parsons, and Micrologic in the near future, therefore the line item under new business was tabled.
There was a request to include Jonathan T. Martin to the Mountaineer Trail Network Authority, which was approved unanimously. Timberline Mountain requested a letter from the commission allowing the sale of alcohol due to the zoning laws. This request will be permitted.
Permission was being sought to probate the estate of the late Ernest Carr using a copy of his will. The commissioners agreed to allow the use of the copy.
The Animal Shelter has requested the addition of a part-time kennel attendant at the facility. Commissioners approved the hiring of Cassandra Jennings to fill this position.
Erroneous assessments 14 through 19 were previously approved by Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora as well as the commissioners. Payments were also approved as presented unanimously.
Commissioner reports began with Moore stating he was happy with the attendance, both in person and virtually, at the recent State Auditors Training and County Commission Association of W.Va. which was held at Canaan Valley Resort. He thanked Canaan employees and staff for their preparation and accommodations of the event and the efforts taken to maintain the safety guidelines in lieu of COVID-19. Moore stated he hopes Canaan can continue to host these events each year.
Davis reiterated White’s comment relating to the additional signage being erected on the secondary roads alerting truck drivers that the roads are not suitable for large trucks. Most signs have been placed with the last ones being constructed to be installed within the next month. Davis also announced that it is expected that approximately 120 workers will soon be needed in the Canaan Valley area. One issue that has been brought to his attention is reliable transportation for workers to get to and from work, especially those living in the Parsons area and working in the valley. Davis has spoken to Digger Adventures and is seeking out options to incorporate a transportation system that would assist these individuals in need of these jobs.
It has also been brought to Davis’ attention that parking in the town of Davis, especially in front of the Post Office, has become difficult due to the amount of visitors to the area. Moore provided Davis with a contact name and number to the right division within the Department of Highways to determine what kind of signage could be placed to reserve spots for postal customers only. Contact has been made with Davis Mayor Doug Martin to see this project through.
Bush added to Davis’ comment relating to the workforce needs coming to the county. He has been in contact with the new Tucker County High School Principal, David Koritko, in an attempt to utilize the teens in the county in the workforce. Once school is back in session, it is Bush’s desire for an assembly or similar event to be held to educate the youth on the possibilities that could be available to them.
The Tucker County Commissioners will reconvene on Wednesday, August 26 at 4 p.m.