Two county departments receive state awards
By Peggy Mackenzie
“Greenbrier County is moving forward,” County Commission President Karen Lobban quipped during the commission meeting Tuesday with two outstanding county departments honored by WV State awards.
The Greenbrier County Day Report Center was the recipient of The Honorable Martin J. Gaughan Award for Excellence in Community Corrections in a presentation by Commission member Woody Hanna, who said he was standing in for Judge James J. Rowe. The award was created last year by the West Virginia Community Corrections Subcommittee to both honor the work of Judge Martin Gaughan in helping to create the Community corrections program in West Virginia and to recognize an outstanding Day Report Center.
Laura Legg, Day Report Center director, together with Ken Dixon and Leona Honaker, home confinement officers, were present at the Tuesday County Commission meeting to receive the award. Legg offered her thanks the commissioners, saying, “Without your support, we would not be here.”
The Greenbrier Day Report Center has met all the criteria used to nominate superior programs. The award committee noted the expanded greenhouse project where DRC clients are responsible for growing and tending a vegetable garden in a greenhouse as a creative way to address an often overlooked leisure and recreation criminogenic need. The clients then donate the grown vegetables to the local food pantries in Greenbrier County. Additionally, former DRC clients are encouraged by the DRC to stay in contact with staff so that they may assist them in obtaining employment, applying for parenting classes or other social service or programs. A high utilization rate of former clients has been noted by DRC director Legg.
The second award was give to Al Whitaker, director of the Homeland Security and 911 Emergency Services, who was honored as Emergency Manager of the Year in the State of West Virginia. Nominated by his Assistant Director Paula Brown, Whitaker expressed his appreciation for the support he has received from the commission and his staff.
Commission president Karen Lobban noted that this is the first time this award has been given to an emergency manager from the southern West Virginia district.
In other business:
• A presentation for the WV Regional Jail Authority was given by representative John Doyle who detailed numerous changes the authority has made in the past year on several counts. “We are getting our financial house in order,” he said. Every cost savings the authority is able to make will be passed on to the surrounding counties, he said. Commissioner Lobban held that the costs to the counties per day to hold prisoners in the regional jail is “bankrupting the counties.” The commissioners otherwise commended the jail authority for their changes and improvements.
Doyle said he would take all suggestions for improvements the commission had back to the Authority. Commissioner Hanna suggested food purchased for the prison commissary come from local farmers, “putting money back in the hands of West Virginians.” Doyle said that was a suggestion he hadn’t considered before and will pass it on.
• Three bids were received for the state-wide 911 Addressing and Mapping project for Greenbrier County residences and businesses. 911 Director Whitaker was requesting approval from the Commission, pending the prosecutor’s review, before signing the contract with Atlas (the lowest bidder). He said it will take 14 months to complete everything on the county’s end to map the locations of all county residences. It will then be passed on to the post office for renumbering, but in the meantime, the county will have a disc for the emergency and fire services to use to locate residences.
Whitaker said the funding for the project comes through the land-line fees and cell phone fees. A problem he said he foresees coming into play is decreasing land-line phones because more and more residents are using cell phones instead. Without a land-line, it is harder to locate the residence when 911 is called.
• The consideration to hire a part-time animal control officer was tabled for the second meeting in a row to allow more time to conduct applicant interviews. Commissioner Lobban commented on how hard it’s been to find qualified applicants.
• Early voting for the Oct. 5 levy election will begin on Saturday, Sept. 21 and run through to Sept. 30 at the County Courthouse starting at 10 a.m.