By Lyra Bordelon
The Greenbrier County Commission approved a range of funding requests, projects, and proposals on Tuesday, May 11, including funding for the courthouse expansion, broadband efforts, Mountain Transit Authority, the Greenbrier Humane Society, and more.
Similar to the Tuesday, April 13, meeting, the commission approved both necessary documentation for the $15 million Greenbrier County Courthouse expansion project and a civilian broadband council. While the courthouse expansion was approved unanimously, Commissioner Mike McClung was the sole no vote to the broadband council’s approval 2-1.
A number of prominent Greenbrier County organizations are represented by the broadband council, having sprung out of the Greater Greenbrier County COVID-19 Task Force. This includes WVSOM, the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Public Defender’s office, White Sulphur Library, Open Doors, Robert C. Byrd Clinic, the WVU 4-H Extension office, EDC, Meadow River Valley Association, Countrymen Communications, the Greenbrier Valley Airport, and several public representatives.
“We didn’t have any interest in recreating the wheel, you all created a good wheel, so we spent some time learning from some experts … about how we might be helpful as community members,” Senator Stephen Baldwin said.
The broadband council is currently working on an internet survey to determine where and who in the county exactly still needs what kind of internet access. This kind of data is often needed when organizations apply for grants for internet infrastructure.
In other business:
– Mountain Transit Authority Manager Tim Thomas’ funding request for $8,000 was approved. Thomas noted the pandemic had been difficult on the organization and they are still looking for drivers to replace the two they will soon lose, including one driver of 33 years. He explained “we want to continue to partner. … Our ridership is coming back up. Between March and April, we had 624 trips. That’s not including the new program we started a year and a half ago … where we take individuals to treatment centers for [drug or alcohol] treatment.” Anyone looking to drive for MTA can get in touch at 304-872-5872.
– A grant keeping the Greenbrier County Day Report up and running was accepted on their behalf by the County Commission, keeping the program running for another year.
– The annual funding request from the Greenbrier Humane Society, totaling approximately $200,000, was approved in a 2-1 vote, with McClung voting nay. McClung has previously voiced opposition to the funding request in previous years, stating that the commission only provides help to this nonprofit specifically, and does not do similar funding for other local nonprofits.
– An annual agreement to keep dams in proper shape was renewed. In 2019, Brain Farkas, executive director of the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), approached the commission to ask for money to put toward dam conservation for the Howard Creek Watershed dam. The agreement costs $2,200 for the commission, which is matched by WVCA. The dam was built in 1994 and holds a permanent pool of 13.53 acres.