By Bobby Bordelon\r\n\r\nThe courthouse expansion, a proposed broadband council, the Meadow River Rail Trail, emergency telecommunicators week, and more were considered by the Greenbrier County Commission during its Tuesday, April 13, meeting.\r\n\r\nAfter a year of COVID-19 precautions, remote meetings, and live streaming of meetings to Facebook, Commission President Lowell Rose opened the commission meeting on a happy note.\r\n\r\n\u201cAppreciate everybody coming out today, this is the biggest crowd we\u2019ve had in a year,\u201d said Rose. \u201cActually, y\u2019all wouldn\u2019t have been here a year ago or five or six months ago because we weren\u2019t allowing anybody in. Anyway, I appreciate everybody coming out today. We\u2019ll be opening up more and more this month as things seem to be changing.\u201d\r\n\r\nShortly before the commission meeting, the Greenbrier County Building Commission met, elected officers, and considered the upcoming courthouse expansion project. As a result of this meeting, the commission approved the first reading of the ordinance approving the leasing of the courthouse to fund bonds.\r\n\r\n\u201cAuthorizing the leasing of the courthouse as security for the financing of the renovation, rehabilitation project, and construction of the addition to the courthouse through the issuance of bonds of the building commission in the amount of not more than $15 million,\u201d explained attorney John Stump. \u201cThis methodology is the same process that we utilized to finance the construction of this annex that we\u2019re in now many years ago.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Greenbrier County Building Commission had not \u201cbeen active for quite some time because we haven\u2019t done any building,\u201d Rose noted, which required the election of officers before the commission could consider the project.\r\n\r\nThe proposal now goes to second reading before being finalized.\r\n\r\n***\r\n\r\nA proposed civilian broadband expansion council brought a number of people to the County Commission meeting, hoping to boost service throughout the area.\r\n\r\n\u201c[We worked in] the Greater Greenbrier COVID Task Force over the past year, and we\u2019ve had a couple of people and subgroups spring out of that,\u201d explained Senator Stephen Baldwin, one member of the proposed council. \u201cFor example, when we knew folks were having a hard time knowing which food pantries were open or where can I get substance abuse help right now ... we put together a resource guide. ... We had one subgroup spring up last this winter on broadband. We\u2019ve got business folks who are part of that, healthcare, education, nonprofits, and we all decided we wanted to do what we could to support ongoing efforts.\u201d\r\n\r\nMapping the current broadband infrastructure has already begun in the county with the assistance of Greenbrier County Schools.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe gave every student a device for grades six through twelve, we worked really hard to do that, but we quickly realized that a lot of parents did not have good internet where they lived,\u201d explained Vicky Cline, Director of Technology and Testing at Greenbrier County Schools. \u201cEven parents who could afford it didn\u2019t have good internet. Broadband has been a huge issue for us.\u201d\r\n\r\nA number of prominent Greenbrier County organizations are also represented, such as 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 4H Extension office, EDC, Meadow River Valley Association, Countrymen Communications, the Greenbrier Valley Airport, and several public representatives. Baldwin noted they have already been in touch with several individuals working on the county\u2019s broadband plan.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe didn\u2019t have any interest in recreating the wheel, you all created a good wheel, so we spent some time learning from some experts \u2026 about how we might be helpful as community members,\u201d Baldwin said.\r\n\r\nThe commission agreed to more meetings with the group to determine how it could fit into the county\u2019s ongoing broadband expansion efforts. Rose also noted frustration with some existing broadband providers for not further expanding existing infrastructure.\r\n\r\n***\r\n\r\nMeadow River Rail Trail Coordinator Matt Ford gave the commission an update on the project before two agreements were signed, a promising development for much needed repairs to the trail. Ford brought a map, explaining that the red dots present along the trail were FEMA repair sites after the June 2016 flood.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_61647" align="alignleft" width="300"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-61647" src="https:\/\/mountainmessenger.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2021\/04\/Commission-Meeting-300x225.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="225" \/> Tincher and Ford examine the trail map.[\/caption]\r\n\r\n\u201cThe agreements that you have today, one is for Treadway Dirtworks to complete the clearing and grubbing and the other is for Chapman Technical Group for the engineering services for the FEMA repairs,\u201d explained Ford.\r\n\r\nTincher also noted the FEMA money funding these projects had been held by the Division of Highways until recently. Once the funds were back with the commission, the projects could move forward.\r\n\r\nAfter the meeting on social media, Baldwin also complimented the trail work.\r\n\r\n\u201cShoutout to Matt Ford and Commissioner Tammy Tincher for their hard work on the Meadow River Trail! Matt made a presentation to the Greenbrier County Commission today about the next step in the process. To say this project has been a bureaucratic\/red tape nightmare would be an understatement...but Matt and Tammy persevere. We have all the parties working together towards the same goal. Great work, y\u2019all!\u201d\r\n\r\nIn other business:\r\n\r\n- Greenbrier County 911 Director Mike Honaker appraoched the commission to request to fill an empty position in the office. He also explained \u201cthis week is emergency telecommunications week across the nation. We\u2019ll be having a luncheon for telecommunicators because of the great work they do and all the dedication to their work and sacrifice. It\u2019s a particular pleasure to help them with some staff issues this week of all weeks. I read yesterday that there are 95,000 911 dispatchers in American and they take 240 million 911 calls a year. I think that speaks volumes about the work they do and the workload they have.\u201d\r\n\r\n- The deadline to apply for Greenbrier County Arts and Recreation grants is April 30 by 4 p.m., the close of office hours. Applications can be picked up at the County Commission office, Greenbrier County Courthouse, downloaded at<a href="http:\/\/www.greenbriercounty.net\/?fbclid=IwAR39IkC4zK6kyap8GdM4DMYsXgYzMOZzJXDsVNIOcTB1DWGp3ajCBlm0d7M"> www.greenbriercounty.net<\/a> or by calling the Greenbrier County Commission office at (304)647-6689.