At the end of the County Commission meeting on Tuesday the Commission again brought up the on-going issue of the $1.3 million being held by New River Community and Technical College. Commissioner Woody Hanna said county prosecutor Patrick Via had sent a strongly worded four-page letter to NRCTC and then spoke with a college spokesperson whose response to the letter was to agree to return $300,000 of the original $1.3 million given by the GCC to the college. “The one-million is still in limbo,” Hanna stated. He urged the Commission to get together to take some action at a meeting with prosecutor Via on Friday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. “I’m not happy with the response we’ve received,” he said. Commissioner Mike McClung agreed with Hanna that the college’s response was to mediate with the $300,000 offered. He, too, was not pleased. Commission President Karen Lobban, who had voted to approve the transfer of the $1.3 million to the college, offered no comments on the topic.
In other business:
• Members of the nonprofit group Greenbrier Valley Restoration, Joe Lovett, Florian Schleiff, Laura Bosey and Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester approached the Commission seeking funding assistance in renovating the Fort Savannah property, now called Montwell Park to help pay for the costs of depositing the debris from the demolition of the two condemned motel structures in the county landfill. Schleiff said the estimated volume is expected to be 900 tons of debris bringing the tipping fee at the Greenbrier Valley Landfill up to $45,000.
Mayor Manchester said the City has committed $165,000 toward the demolition expenses and to help solve the water drainage issue from Lewis Spring located in the lowest part of town.
Commissioner Lobban stated the GCC could not give cash directly but could indirectly provide assistance by going through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to request a waiver for the tipping fee and in that way save the fee costs.
Commissioner McClung suggested the group “use your creativity” to couple the Lewis Spring with the development of Montwell Park since the spring lies across the highway from the park and the two complement each other. The Lewis Spring, as McClung said, “is, after all, the reason Lewisburg is located here.” Bosey stated the 6.5 acre property will include a farmers market with walking trails and more.
• Wellspring of Greenbrier County, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that assists the working poor, homeless, transient and other people living in poverty throughout Greenbrier County was opened in 2004 by founders and directors Fred and Scarlette Kellerman. As an all volunteer agency with no paid staff, with the exception of an Americorps VISTA member and an Experience Works associate, funding has come from individuals, churches, businesses and private foundations. Wellspring works with virtually every service organization in Greenbrier County, and is often considered the “agency of choice,” particularly in regards to transient and homeless people. Unfortunately, in recent months and years, incidents of need have increased while funding has decreased leaving the entire social network at risk and unable to keep the pace with all the demands. Their budget, Kellerman said, this year is $75,000.
Wellspring is located in Rupert, next to the Rupert City Hall. The center includes a welcome station, large social area, data office, children’s space, laundry area, handicap accessible bathrooms with shower, fully equipped kitchen, prayer room and guest office. There is also a large warehouse space and workshop to accommodate tools and equipment. The second floor of the building includes seven low-income rental apartments.
The Kellermans had come to ask the County Commission to help out with one significant program which has become “a full time job” – providing prepared meals for the homeless people of Greenbrier County. The Kellermans tried to find a source for a soup kitchen, they said, but failing that they are doing it on their own – and out of their own pockets. People come from all over the county to get food and take it with them. Foods have come mostly from donations and are processed by their unpaid volunteers. The cost this year is $9,000. Kellerman said, “It is the packaging costs” which they need help with. He was asking the Commission for $3,000 to help cover the costs of food packaging.
“It’s an undertaking,” Kellerman said, understating the impact it has been for him and Scarlette. Quoting Scarlette, Fred said, “`First we retired, then we got rewired!”
The Commissioners were very sympathetic, but, as phrased by Commissioner Hanna, “We’re only three months into the new fiscal year, and already we’ve gone beyond our budget.” Commissioner McClung said, “Surely we can find three thousand dollars.” He moved to approve getting the funds from the coal severance fund. The vote passed unanimously.
• The Commissioners interviewed two applicants for the Animal Control position and voted to approve hiring Hannah Holliday. Commissioner Hanna said, “It’s time we got somebody on board since we’ve not had anyone handling animal control services since Sept. 9 when Robert McClung injured himself. Hanna advised waiting until February to have Holliday go in for her animal control training. Holliday will be handling animal control on the weekends while McClung will resume the weekday shift.
• This is Breast CancerAwareness month. Women are asked to be aware that early screenings save lives.
• Frankford’s Harvest Festival will be held this Saturday with the parade to start at 10 a.m.