The Greenbrier County Commission voted to approve action to purchase property belonging to the Roger Boone Family Trust to establish a recreation park at the Tuesday morning commission meeting.
This “big idea,” stated Commissioner Mike McClung, to create fields where soccer, softball and baseball tournaments can be held, has been a dream for many years.
The purchase will encompass 100 acres and will also include a gift of 40 acres donated by the owners. The price tag is $300,000 and will be drawn from the county’s arts and recreation fund. The land adjoins the Greenbrier River Trail and is situated four miles north of the interstate. A feasibility study concluded that the property is workable for the proposed uses.
The commission also approved signing off on an offer by Terradon Engineering to survey the property at a cost not to exceed $10,000, which, Commissioner Woody Hanna said, was permissible because the cost limit places it under the threshold requirement to advertise for bids. Moving forward, McClung said, the plans for the park will be developed in phases.
In other business:
- Sheriff Jan Cahill said he is stepping down after serving the county since 2012, having been named to the office of superintendent of the West Virginia State Police by Governor-Elect Jim Justice. Cahill strongly recommended the commissioners appoint Cahill’s Chief Deputy Bruce Sloan as interim sheriff of Greenbrier County. He said Sloan will provide the citizens a “seamless transition.”
“You won’t find anybody who will disagree with my recommendation,” he said.
Both County Clerk Robin Loudermilk and Department of Highways crew supervisor Keith Hollinghead concurred and offered testaments in support of Sloan as the “right candidate” who is already experienced and acquainted with procedures.
Steve Malcomb “threw his hat in” for the interim sheriff position as well. “This may not be the right time to bring up politics,” he said, charging that Sloan had changed his political affiliation recently from Republican to Democrat, in apparent anticipation of receiving the post as interim sheriff. State code requires the commission must chose a person with the same party affiliation as the person vacating the elected position. Cahill was elected on the Democratic ticket in 2012. Malcomb proposed that Sloan could remain as deputy chief and also serve as the county tax collector, while he, Malcomb, would forfeit the tax collector salary and fill in as interim sheriff.
The news of Cahill’s decision to step down came after the commission’s agenda was publicly posted last Friday. The commission did not state whether they would announce the name of the interim sheriff at the next meeting or at a special section meeting of the commission.
- Commissioner Woody Hanna was elected by his peers as president of the county commission with his nomination by Commissioner Lowell Rose at the beginning of the meeting.
- The first commission meeting of the year also included confirming the meeting days, times and courthouse hours, which will remain as they have been over the past year. Hanna stated that the same will prevail as well for the commissioners’ committee assignments.
The Board of Equalization and Review dates and hours are as follows: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m.; Friday, Feb.3, 9 a.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.; and Monday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.
- The commission approved a pass-through transportation grant application in support of the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion. According to Margaret Hambrick, president of the Greenbrier Historical Society, the funding will be used to fully replace the foundation beneath and between the columns with concrete and cover it with brick to look like the original surface. Some of the previous work on the site includes stabilizing the columns, cleaning out the spring box and installing a new drainage system, Hambrick said.
- A request for a letter of support for the Greenbrier River Trail Association to resurface the trail with gravel for the full 78-mile length from Caldwell to Cass was approved. Funding for the project will come from a recreational trails program grant for $150,000. The grant requires a 20-percent match that will be met by the Greenbrier River Trail Association.
- Al Whitaker received approval for the annual emergency management performance grant through Homeland Security, which covers half of the department’s salaries, utilities and fuels for the year. At $79,750, it requires a 50-percent match.