By Peggy Mackenzie
“If we truly believe in the government of the people, then we should heed them,” said Greenbrier County Commission President Mike McClung, in response to the request of three citizens urging the commission to get the “Brunch Bill” on the November ballot for Greenbrier County at the Tuesday meeting.
“We’re 50th in per capita income,” said Lewisburg resident Frank Tuckwiller. “We need jobs. We need taxes. West Virginia is broke.” Allowing festivals, restaurants, and similar businesses permit serving alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays will keep tourists in town through the weekend. That means jobs, Tuckwiller said.
The brunch bill passed in the Senate, and also in the House, but with an amendment requiring each county to independently put the item on the November ballot. There is no cost to add it to the ballot. The commission agreed to consider the bill at the June meeting.
In other business:
• Committee on Aging (COA) member and former executive director Gloria Martin, who with COA Executive Director John Wyman, COA President of the Board of Directors Steve Keadle, and Vice President Vicki Dove, presented a proclamation declaring the month of June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month at the meeting. Martin said the issues include both physical and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and abandonment. When an elderly person died of intentional and malicious neglect in West Virginia, it was considered a misdemeanor until last year. It is now a felony in the state, Martin said.
Martin said elder abuse awareness classes will soon be offered and the dates and location will be posted in the media. Trainers will include Martin, Sgt. J.A. Vance with the Lewisburg Police Department, newly elected circuit court Judge Jennifer Dent and Pat Daniels, advocate for Stop Abusive Family Environments (S.A.F.E.) of West Virginia.
A wreath will be hung on the door to the courthouse for the entire month to remind the public that elders in our communities are valued and vulnerable, and deserve the dignity, care and respect of their fellow citizens.
• Sheriff Jan Cahill presented the names of two new hirees for consideration for the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office. Ryan Matthew Lindsey and Jesse Franklin Kelly were approved by the commission.
Cahill also asked for a maintenance agreement be renewed for the Live scan, a records keeping electronic device that can capture and automatically send out to labs many previously laborious police work details, such as fingerprints, photos, etc. The device has multiple advantages and costs for repairs do run up, he said, without the maintenance agreement renewal, which is also expensive at $4,582 per year, “but worth it,” said Cahill. He affirmed that the expense of the maintenance agreement will come out of the department’s budget.
• The commission also signed a $3,950 renewal agreement for the maintenance service on the county courthouse phones.
•The first installment of $200,000 from the Small City Block Grant fund was approved for the western end water project. The intergovernmental agreement with the PSD #2 will be overseen by the Greenbrier County Region 4 Development office.
• The commission signed the 2016 primary election results, certifying their accuracy.
• The final item on the agenda dealt with the civil action case between the county and New River Community and Technical College on the pending swimming pool litigation issue. In its suit, New River originally claimed the county owed it $450,000 for planning, design and infrastructure work on an “aquatic center,” but recalculated the figure to around $380,000, and then later brought the figure down to $162,000.
The county responded stating there were no funds available to pay out as damages.
The college asserted those funds could legally come from the county’s bed tax fund because they would be spent on projects allowable under state code. New River produced a list of arts program proposals to the county.
At the meeting, the commissioners expressed doubt that the list of programs proposed would fall within the requirements of the state code. With a court date coming up in early June, the commission want to be assured that “anything we do is approved by code,” said McClung, who questioned “digital imaging labs,” an example of the proposed arts programs.
Commissioner Lowell Rose cautioned that while there was “an agreement in principle” on the amount of the settlement, the legality of spending bed tax money on the college’s proposed projects had not yet been confirmed. He urged settling the contentious issue and moving on.
“A community college is an important asset to have in a community. It’s time to get rid of this hatchet, but we need to make sure the items qualify,” he said.
The commissioners voted unanimously to postpone a decision on whether to accept New River’s settlement offer until they can obtain a legal opinion on the suitability of the proposed projects. The issue is expected to be revisited at the commission’s June 14 meeting.