By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Reverend Neil Parsons opened the Tucker County Commission meeting with a word of prayer followed by The Pledge of Allegiance recited by all. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order before approval of the previous meeting minutes.
Audience and guests were addressed first on the agenda, bringing forth Melissa Smith from the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. “This upcoming grant, we are going to be awarding the Tucker County Commission $100,000,” she announced. This grant has been used for putting sprinkler systems throughout the facility, brick re-pointing, and several more projects. “I would like to brag on Joel while I’m here,” Smith continued. “He is one of the best grant writers and grant managers in the state that I deal with,” she said. This is the authority’s sixteenth grant cycle, and to date Tucker County has been awarded $864,590. This group is solely fee driven; they do not derive any funds from taxes. Any fees paid at the courthouse, such as a marriage license or filing a deed for example, they receive a portion of to go back into the courthouse facilities.
Angie Shockley explained the Q&A Associates business endeavors that currently take place within Tucker and Randolph County. Their main focus is at risk young adults. They utilize their businesses which includes Applewood Transitions, Journey Transitions, and Cabin Mountain Living Center to help these individuals in many ways. In addition they operate the Breakfast Nook, Mindfully Aware, Double S Stables, The Old Mill, Gobs & Gobs of Kabobs, Saddles and Smiles (a non-profit 501c3 organization), SPARK at TCHS, WV Autism supportive center (WVASC), and the addition of The Andiron Restaurant coming in 2019. Shockley’s have also taken over the lease of the building that houses Mountain Market to revamp the aesthetics and grow that business. She also operates Deerfield Restaurant which closed in October of 2018 for the Shockley’s to open a new pub and restaurant with a musical venue in one of their barns on Cortland Road. Shockley shared a brief narrative of each of their businesses and how they contribute to the county and a general financial overview.
The final guest wishing to speak was Aaron Myers requesting a status update on the litter and nuisance ordinance. Moore explained it is still a work in progress which has been slightly delayed due to the holiday schedule and the change of commissioners since the ordinance work has begun. Myers explained the home property of concern next to his residence has improved, however the items have been loaded up in the back of pickups and onto trailers and just relocated to other locations such as behind Jim Propst store. “You know that’s not right now that Jimmy has to deal with it”, explained Myers. “The back roads getting cleaned up but now it’s somebody else’s problem”, he continued. Moore replied that they would be happy to reschedule a work session with Myers and also stated Dennis Filler, County Planner, would be commenting on that during his portion of the meeting.
Sherry Simmons, County Clerk, reported that her office began the budget that day and would be devoting a lot of time and effort to the cause. Joel Goughnour, County Administrator, thanked Melissa Smith for coming to award the commission their grant funds followed by Brett Ware, 911 Director. The cut live date for their new software is still February 25 and their administrators have recently received their training on the system. User training for the employees is set for the week of February 11. “It’s going to be a big learning curve for them”, he admitted. Ware also noted how fortunate the area was for the slight warm spell we had. It allowed the precipitation to remain rain as long as it did or we would have accumulated approximately three feet of snow in the most recent storm.
Animal Shelter Director Bailey Falls briefed commissioners that their recent holiday donation efforts raised over $2,000 in addition to over 500 pounds of dog and cat food, litter, toys, and other necessities the shelter was in need of. Intake procedures are involving behavior assessments to aid in the fostering and adopting of pets to aid in assurance the new housing for the animal will be suitable for both parties. New relationships have been formed with some new rescue options to help with re-homing pets and to assist in grants and programs to help with the feral cat situations.
Tucker County Planner Dennis Filler provided a status update on the litter and nuisance ordinance Myers before mentioned. He and Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora had recently discussed the chain of events that one could expect if a litter control officer were hired to carry out such an ordinance. He presented the commissioners with a flow chart as an example of how those in violation would be handled. Essentially there would be a complaint or the litter control officer would see an issue first hand. A citation could then be administered abiding by state laws already in place with the stipulation of two weeks to correct the issues. If no progress has been made in the allotted timeframe, the case will then be turned over to the prosecutor for further legal action. “The prosecutor must be a participant in this process”, he reiterated when suggesting another work session on this topic be held. “There are substantial penalties for littering”, he continued. Enforcing this ordinance could provide a benefit to the county as per his research; Filler understands that while a percentage of the fines go to the state, a portion remains within the county. Penalties can be as severe as up to a year incarceration for breaking these littering laws. Filler also mentioned consideration to use a graphical information system (GIS) to actually track the problem to ensure proper disposal of the issues of question.
Under correspondence, the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department has requested the use of the parking lot from May 19-26, 2019 for the annual street fair. The fair will operate from May 22 through the 25, and the commission agreed. Commissioner Patrick Darlington read a resolution from the senate that declared January 16, 2019 as Tucker County Day at the capital. There were two renewals for Tucker County Development Authority, in which Terry Silk was approved for another five year term and Bruce Kolsun a three year term.
The commissioners unanimously approved the Board of Equalization Dates, two erroneous assessments, and approval of payments. The commissioners went into executive session to briefly discuss personnel and returned to session. Commissioner Freddy Davis said, “I make a motion to hire Dylan Baker as a full time Animal Control/Humane Officer for the Tucker County Animal Shelter”, to which all agreed.
The commissioners briefly gave a report regarding their recent participation in public affairs and boards. Moore attended the County Commission Association meeting in Charleston as well as Tucker County Day. “Tucker County was represented well,” he proclaimed proudly. Darlington also attended the event at the capital and noted progress being made on the windmill tax. He also stated the 40×80 multipurpose building has been complete and with weather cooperation the gravel and concrete will come next. Dr. Campbell, former superintendent, donated turf for the interior of the building which was a great asset to the facility. Davis regretfully could not attend the event with his fellow commissioners due to the passing of his father- in -law, to which the commission sends their condolences. He commended Smith and her organization on what they do to restore the county courthouses and thanked her for her help in taking care of our own. The meeting was adjourned with the next meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 13 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.