By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Reverend William Brown opened the Tucker County Commission meeting with a word of prayer followed by the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance by all. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order followed by the approval of the previous meeting minutes.
Audience and guests, including Kelly Stadelman, Development Director with the Tucker Community Foundation, were addressed first. The commission has supported the foundation for the last several years, and Stadelman was gave an update on the previous year’s happenings and request the commission’s continued support. This is the thirtieth year for the foundation and the “Run For It” program is in its thirteenth year. “During the past years the county (commission) has invested $50,000 in “Run For It”, and the return on the investment has been over $900,000 that’s went back into the county, so that’s exciting,” she reported. It is expected to surpass $1 million, thus go into the non-profits in the area for the 2019 year.
Stadelman offered some statistics from the 2018 “Run For It” campaign reporting around one thousand, five hundred competitors, eighty being new. Nearly half of the total competitors were Tucker County Residents, making up thirty-six teams, five of which were new to the event. With so many entries last year, there was an extra $7,000 given out and it is expected for even more to go back into Tucker County and the non-profits. “It’s always been a win-win for us and it is for our county,” commented Moore. Commissioner Patrick Darlington made a motion to grant the request and contribute $5,000 to their funds. Commissioner Fred Davis seconds the motion and all agreed. The event will take place on September 28, 2019 with an estimate of $310,000 to be given away.
Elected officials report followed, beginning with Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora. “We had our grand jury meet yesterday and we had ten individuals indicted with that grand jury and we will have court Friday to have all of those folks who were indicted arraigned,” he reported as they hope to move forward in several cases and either dismiss or transport individuals to a regional facility. He continued “Right now our jail bill is a little bit high, but we’ve got some folks in there on some very serious charges that need to stay in there”, he added. Moore inquired about a regional jail law that would assist in the county paying bills for inmates until they reach sentencing, in which LaMora will be investigating and reporting back. He further explained that one reason the process gets extended is due to pre sentencing investigations taking place. Circuit Clerk Sherry Simmons reported her office has been busy getting things ready for the budget.
Joe Long, Maintenance Director, took the floor first updating the commissioners on the jail house. Due to the Community Correction program expanding, maintenance is looking into plans to expand office space upstairs in the facility to make room for the new services. LaMora took a moment to exaggerate the fact that an individual doesn’t have to be in trouble to take advantage of the programs Community Correction offers, “If anybody from the community wants to get assistance from community corrections, they can walk in and he (Dustin Luzier, Director) will help them out with that”. Long allowed that they are continuing maintenance on the Extension Office at this time.
County Planner Dennis Filler presented a packet containing a draft of the Tucker County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance for consideration. Filler provided a tentative timeline to adopt this ordinance and the documents will be posted for the public comment. The tentative meetings are scheduled for March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Davis-Thomas vicinity. A legal advertisement will be sent by March 8 for March 13 publications. A Parsons meeting at 6 p.m. on March 28 and an informational meeting April 17 at 6 p.m. Followed by a 4 p.m. county commission meeting on April 24 where the commissioners can choose whether or not to adopt the ordinance. “This is the framework I am proposing for you to consider moving forward for the consideration and potential adoption of our subdivision ordinance,” Filler explained. LaMora is going to confirm from legal standpoint that these dates meet requirements. Filler also briefly mentioned Tim Williamson of FreedomWorks LLC has submitted an impact assessment to the Monongahela Forest and the request for a permit to study is in the hands of the United States Forest Service acting supervisor. The city of Parsons has also passed a resolution in support of this project.
Moore addressed the guest that accompanied Stadelman, whom she introduced as the new Assistant Development Director, Jeff Fellers. He is originally from Mineral County and thanked everyone for being so hospitable as Moore welcomed him to the county.
There were no correspondences but there were two county board appointments, both for the Cultural District Authority. Cory Chase and Emily Wilson Hauger both received recommendations by the commission and sent to Charleston for consideration as members.
Moving into new business, it was suggested to distribute $132,500 from the Stabilization Fund toward the new Emergency Response Facility to be constructed in Davis. Discussion commenced with Davis concerned with spending this money on the facility and stated “I think we need to take the money and hire some paramedics and get our services better”. He continued, “The building itself is going to be a mile from my house, so I’m for anything to make it better”, but continued to say he felt that the $466,500 was a lot for an ambulance building. Moore explained that this contribution would pay for almost half of it and the building commission was securing lending to pay for the remaining costs. “They will make the payments of $2551 a month for ten years unless we pay it off sooner”, Moore stated.
Simmons asked to speak to which she stated, “Part of my job with the county is being a financial officer and being budget time, I’m working a lot of numbers. In the work sessions that we’ve had with the building that is going to be built there were some points that were brought up, one being an agreement with the town of Davis pertaining to snow removal, cleaning, and maintenance. Since the public restrooms will help with the ball field and the boulder park, we need to consider liability insurance for the use of a public facility which is at a different level”. During these work sessions goals were made, most importantly twenty-four hour coverage. Simmons stated she was unsure if that has been met. She continued by agreeing with Davis regarding the lack of paramedics, acknowledging a recent course though not knowing the status of those participating in regards to hiring. “Another point that was brought up to me was the unpaid fees versus the paid fees that is being brought into the county for EMS. To date, for this fiscal year, we have collected $238,425. EMS has requested $100,000, and $12,321 was spent in administration fees. The balance in their account is $142,688.42 and I feel the unpaid fees would contribute a lot”, she continued.
According to Simmons, by code in the ordinance they are able to use those funds for their building and equipment. She continued expressing the importance of a long term plan pertaining to maintenance and have written statements that says such. Moore responded” The city of Davis is to do the maintenance of the restroom and the county will be paying the water and electric”, but given the boulder park and ball field are in close proximity, it was agreed to provide public restrooms for those facilities in return for the city of Davis to remove the snow and maintain the restrooms. “This building is owned by the county commission”, reiterated Moore, “not the EMS”.
Reverting back to the twenty-four hour service, he responded “Until we can get at least ninety percent of the people to pay their ordinance, we can’t fulfill that”. Those who have not paid their fees will be penalized this May. Darlington commented on the matter stating “Our lease expires with Cortland in May and Cortland has already stated that they have use for that property that’s part of their Vision, so what’s our plan for EMS coverage in that part of the county end of May”? He then agreed with Moore than progress needs to continue on this facility to have a plan to keep service on the upper end of the county once this lease expires.
Filler stepped forward and made a few comments on the matter, stating “As a county planner I will tell you this right now, we are insufficiently funded in the county to be able to maintain and execute two full shifts twenty-four seven”. He also expressed concern that Tucker County is able to train individuals to do the job, but we have no way at present to retain them to work in our county, which is another area needing focus.
Terry Silk, President of the Building Commission and EMS member, also commented about the agreement with the city of Davis that will be in writing later this week, as well as the fact that the Building Commission has nearly $50,000 already invested into this property preparing for the facility. Long questioned the bids received, informed there were three businesses who expressed interest, but only one submitted a bid. The motion was made by Moore to designate $132,500 from the Stabilization Fund for the Emergency Response Facility and was seconded by Darlington. Davis opposed the motion, though the motion carried. It was motioned by Davis to provide $65,000 from the Rehab of Property line item for the facility, which was already budgeted for, and all were in favor.
There were two erroneous assessments that was an error of an owner of two parcels where the dwelling was listed on the wrong parcel. They were approved unanimously. The payments were reviewed and approved noting the slightly elevated jail bill of $12,593.
The commissioners gave their individual reports with Davis having attended a meeting with the solid waste authority. He reported they recently opened up a new cell they’ve recently been working on and doing their best to operate regardless the mud. Darlington attended a Parks and Recreation meeting and stated with the muddy conditions they haven’t been able to further their progress on the multi-purpose facility at Camp Kidd. Moore attended a meeting with Region Seven discussing GIS mapping capabilities. A committee will be formed to address how to appropriately charge the countys to pay for this service that could be beneficial to many county entities. It has been proposed that each county to raise their Region Seven dues by 20 cents per person, which for Tucker County amounts to around $1,400 that is shared by the county and cities, effective July 1. Filler responded, “This is what the world is moving towards”, and notes this is the fairest approach to charging the counties for this service and making it affordable.
There were no further comments or discussions therefore the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will take place on Wednesday, February 27 at 4 p.m. at the Tucker County Courthouse.