By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
“Good morning everybody”, welcomed Commission President Diane Hinkle at the opening of the commission meeting held Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 9 a.m. Pastor Greg Smith asked for the blessing over the meeting prior to The Pledge of Allegiance. Hinkle also extended sympathy on behalf of the entire county commission staff to Carol Wolford after the loss of her mother.
Minutes were reviewed from the September 26 meeting and approved. Mr. and Mrs. Myers were originally on the agenda for the meeting, though they requested to be rescheduled for the 24 of October meeting. At this time, there were none present in the audience who requested to speak, therefore Hinkle moved on in the agenda.
Sherry Simmons began the elected officials report by recapping important election dates. “Early voting begins October 24-November 3 in our office (county clerk) from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Saturday dates are October 27 and November 3 and those times are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.”, Simmons reminded. “The general election will be held November 6 and the polls open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.” added Simmons. Another date of importance is the last day to make changes or register to vote is October 16. The first poll worker training session was held October 9 which Simmons stated had a very successful attendance, and another training session will be conducted in Davis City Hall on October 11.
Moving to employee reports, County Administrator Joel Goughnour noted the total to date for the EMS fees are $227,715. Brett Ware, 911 Director updated the commissioners on the call statistics received by the 911 center for the month of September. “We had four hundred and forty eight total events logged under our system, of which we had eighty seven hang ups”, reported Ware. “We had a total of one hundred and twenty five EMS events, law enforcement we had one hundred and eighty six events, and on the fire department side of things they had forty seven”, he added. Of those calls, not all of them were requiring response and were handled accordingly. Ware also recently met with the computer system vendor to whom they had sent their map data in, which he noted there were very few errors that needed corrected. “Things are moving very quickly, we have equipment being delivered today and installed on the 28 of this month”, Ware expressed. “Right now the live cut time we are looking to be using the new system is February 25”, he reported, and also noted it could be sooner. Hinkle mentioned the need of replacement road signs, in which Ware responded they are getting ready to place the order and should have them reinstalled within a month or so.
Kevin White, OEM director, addressed the commissioners, stating 911 and staff has been very busy the last several weeks supporting local events such as the Canyon Run, Run For It, and the Leaf Peepers Festival. Two weeks were spent preparing for the impending storm to reach Tucker County and the entire region, which fortunately didn’t amount to much, however the timeframe coincided with emergency preparedness month. Articles were ran in the paper, informative flyers were sent home with students, and efforts have been put into building the OEM social media page, which received over thirty thousand hits with only seven thousand individuals in the county. White stated they are participating in training next week as well as a region four exercise on October 24 that will coincide with mock drills with 911 and EMS. “Of course we will be attending the round table at the Thomas Community Center”, White added. Per stream clean ups, the local stream efforts have been on hold momentarily as those working on cleaning up the debris have been out of the county recently, but are hoping to return in November. Fortunately the contract has been extended through the end of February, to which Hinkle asked, “Is it possible to be extended again?” White’s response was, “I asked that question and she said they were working on it”. “The work they do is much needed and very appreciated”, stated White.
White went on to mention a free smoke alarm program being ran through OEM, 911, and fire departments to provide up to three, ten year, maintenance free smoke detectors per home in any residential area. The fire departments in their jurisdiction will be installing them in anyone’s home who signs up for the program, also being run alongside Red Cross. To date, over fifty homes have called in taking advantage of this program. To enlist in the program, you must call 1-877-400-0911 to be added to the list so the order can be placed for the proper number of detectors. “The only catch is a trained member must be allowed in the home to install them properly”, explained White. “How long will this program last”, questioned Commissioner Patrick Darlington. “Basically to the end of the year, we may have a surplus fire fighters can carry with them in the instance they are ever in a home that may not have one”, responded White.
Ware chimed in regarding a recent request received by the U.S. Forest Service requesting services from Tucker County OEM with communication resources in Dolly Sods. “While their equipment worked very well, one of their team members did have to fall back to our system and they were very grateful to have us there”, Ware recalled. “It’s nice to be utilized in a work capacity”, he added. One unexploded ordinance (UXO) was recovered in a tree during this assignment. “That’s the second UXO incident this year, they wash out of Otter Creek”, mentioned White.
County Planner Dennis Filler informed the commissioners that the county subdivision land development ordinance is being put through one more revision before moving forward to the Building Authority followed by the commissioners. “We are also looking at strategies to deal with dilapidated properties within the county”, Filler continued. There are several codes that can be used to aid in this issue, including appointing a litter control officer, in which Filler informed, “I have taken the training and have received certification from DEP for that if that is the direction we want to go”. There are other sections of WV code dealing with hazards and nuisances which would allow for a nuisance ordinance dealing with abandoned vehicles, junk, trash, tall grass, dumping, and similar issues that contribute to a public hazard. Filler continued explaining there are several other sections and statues within the WV code dealing with public health that can also be utilized within a new county ordinance that would help uphold the new enforcement as well as appropriately reprimand those in violation. “There are five sets of statutes that I have been able to identify and that I have had conversations about to ensure we can use those tools and create a litter control, nuisance type of ordinance”, Filler addressed. It was noted that these weren’t building specific; however, he explained that if the buildings do get to a certain point of harboring varmints or posing public health and safety hazards, they do facilitate opportunities to address the issues within these codes and statutes. Filler attended a WV law clinic, one day course dealing with all of these issues, giving him leads to explore to address these issues within our county. “This is a good first step”, exclaimed Hinkle in regards to devising appropriate regulations pertinent to our local issues and needs.
Continuing his report, Filler reminded the US Census will be coming up in 2020 and it is crucial for West Virginia as a whole to participate. “It is extremely important we get maximum count in the county”, reiterated Filler as he explained as this affects grants and aids through the federal government and also the number of representatives in the United States Congress. “West Virginia is forecasted possibly to lose one representative”, Filler added.
Hinkle requested Filler to briefly review and outline the subdivision ordinance since it has been in the development process for approximately two years and hasn’t been a topic of meetings recently. The goal for the ordinance is to make land more accessible for development especially with the construction of Corridor H. With the potential for new communities, it is important to ensure they are designed in such a way the land will be utilized adequately. The example used was Tuscan Ridge, where there were numerous lots purchased and now very few homes have actually been constructed there. Reason being, the lots are not sizeable enough to install necessary septic systems with the absence of public sewage available in that area. Having this ordinance in place will assist in ensuring the land will be sufficient enough to be supported by all necessary utilities, erosion control, the roads will be accessible by emergency services, and all necessary infrastructures so the communities are sustainable.
With the arrival of a citizen wishing to address the commission, Hinkle invited Tim McGowen to speak on his area of concern. McGowen proceeded to express his concern regarding a circuit court matter that he felt was not handled appropriately. According to McGowen, approximately a year ago he claimed to have had over fourteen thousand dollars worth of personal property stolen and it was admitted to. The case was presented in circuit court, in which the case file indicates a settlement agreement was made and signed by both parties, and the case was then dismissed. McGowen told the commissioners he felt Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora was refusing to prosecute the perpetrators and said LaMora has told the WV State Police he’s also not allowed to file a police report. McGowen’s purpose was to request the county commission require they be prosecuted. “We are paying him (LaMora) a salary, he’s supposed to enforce the law and he’s choosing not to at my expense”, stated McGowen. Following the meeting, Ray LaMora was contacted regarding this matter, to which he responded, “It is a civil matter, it was addressed in court, and there is nothing more to be done through my office”. Per the county commissioners, Commissioner Lowell Moore responded on behalf of himself and his fellow commissioners, “The county commission has no comment as this is a legal matter”.
Hinkle resumed the meeting as per the agenda, stating there were no correspondences, county board appointments, or road names to be discussed. There was only one erroneous assessment to review, which was approved as were the payment reports.
Commissioner reports began with Darlington recapping the topics of the Parks and Recreation board meeting stating the golf course will be closing the first week of November and being prepped for winter. Another topic was the delivery of a new 40×80 steel building which will serve as a heated; all purpose building that can be used for an assortment of events and purposes. Darlington will also be attending the upcoming Corridor H and Building Authority meetings.
Hinkle reminded about the county round table event taking place Monday, October 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. in Thomas at the Mt. Top Senior Center. “I just want to commend everybody on Leaf Peepers and Run for it, it was another great event”, she added. “I want to thank Lynda Gray and Tom Klus who currently have the Tucker EMT class underway” Hinkle said with anticipation of new employees. Hinkle also attended the Stop the Blood course that is being conducted and she felt it offered a lot of great information. She also attended a session in Charleston entitled West Virginia Forward which was geared toward understanding the impact of machine learning on today’s society.
There was no need for an executive session at this meeting and a motion was made for adjournment. The next county commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 24 at 4 p.m. in the Tucker County Courthouse traditional court room and as always, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.