By Peggy Mackenzie
On Tuesday, at the first meeting of the year, as the Greenbrier County Commissioners processed the usual annual preliminaries of considering a new president of the commission, affirming meeting dates, times, Courthouse hours and the 2020 holiday calendar, a riff among the normally staid commissioners was reignited. In establishing the commissioners’ assignments to committees, Commissioner Lowell Rose and Commissioner Tammy Shifflett-Tincher were determined to retain all the committee assignments between them, leaving none for Commissioner Mike McClung, and a motion to keep committee assignments unchanged was made. McClung, who had been removed from his position on the board of the Airport Authority (GCAA) last March, maintained his stance that his removal was done “without cause.” In compensation, he requested to serve on the Farmland Protection Board and the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp (GVEDC).
“Some committee assignments are more important than others to county government,” McClung said. The request, posed in the form of an amendment to the motion, was quickly voted down, 2-1.
Tincher reaffirmed the March 2019 vote to remove McClung, by stating, “Committee assignments can be changed at any time.” McClung disagreed with Tincher’s interpretation of State code, emphasizing that, “Any member can be removed with cause.” He cited that his efforts in seeking a legal opinion from the attorney general had been considered “a threat.” Rose responded that if McClung had remained in his seat on the board, “it would also been considered a threat.”
Then, without more ado, the commission moved on to set the dates and times for the board of equalization meetings, which will be held in the County Commission office at the Courthouse as follows: Jan. 29-9 a.m.; Feb. 3-10 a.m.; Feb. 6-6:30 p.m.; Feb. 10-11 a.m.; Feb. 14-9 a.m.; and Feb. 20-9 a.m.
Rose was unanimously reelected to continue as President of the Commission for another year, and commission meetings will continue to be held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month with the first meeting at 10 a.m. and the second at 7 p.m. The Courthouse hours will remain 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the county will follow the state’s holiday calendar as per usual.
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In other business:
- The water runoff issues at the Sportsplex property continue as a subject of concern, which Rose said were created by the contractor at an early point in the meeting. “In the DEP permit, it said [not to] take the ponds out until vegetation is established.” Rose said the contractor did remove three of the collection ponds and shouldn’t have. He said the balance of payment due to the contractor will be held until remediations have been satisfactorily made.
“Any runoff from the Sportsplex property into the Greenbrier River is unacceptable and is ultimately the responsibility of the commission,” asserted Jennifer Baker, coordinator for the Greenbrier River Watershed Association, in a public comment at the close of the meeting. “Sediment flowing into the river is detrimental to the health of the aquatic species and the citizens that are city water customers.” A WV Department of Environment (DEP) notice of violation, issued in October 2019 and with the commission placing blame on a contractor, Baker said, “It seems to be that this is your responsibility ultimately.” She urged full compliance by the commission and “to set a good standard for the county and not be a bad precedent.”
Tincher said the commission is working to address the storm water drainage concerns, while recognizing “[t]here is no denying that there are issues.”
- In new business, PSD #2 spokesperson Cassie Lawson requested the commission consider to fund a preliminary engineering report on a waterline extending from Sam Black to Asbury as the next step to bring water to Alta. The engineering design will include connections from Rainelle to Charmco, which were left off the first phase of the water project. The new line will also hit roads between Clintonville and Asbury and extend to the top of Muddy Creek Mountain where some farmers have asked for chlorinated water. Eventually the waterlines will tie in to Lewisburg and on to White Sulphur Springs, resulting in one continuous tie-in west to east. The commission approved the $50,000 request for the design report. This phase of the original project will address the whole scope of the waterline project and will be made ready for the grant appeals phase.
- Signage has been put in place along the Meadow River Trail to alert four-wheel vehicles and pedestrians that the MRT is closed and unsafe for any vehicular or pedestrian use. Violators will be prosecuted.