By Peggy Mackenzie
The Greenbrier County Commission considered several items at the Tuesday morning video-meeting. Among them was a purchase approval for three CURIS machines at a total cost of $53,559, using monies allotted for the purchase. Designed to decontaminate spaces and surfaces regular cleaning just can’t do, the CURIS machine, which was developed in Florida, can decontaminate high BS3 level facilities using a hydrogen peroxide based fogging solution.
The commission’s intent is to use them to decontaminate COVID-19 exposure in various at risk locations, such as ambulances, MTA buses, school buses, fire trucks, classrooms and doctors’ offices. Commission President Lowell Rose said the commission has yet to establish the parameters for what uses they will be applied.
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Meadow River Valley Association (MRVA) Director Matt Ford requested a letter of support for an Economic Development Administrative (EDA) grant and gave updates on several projects in the Western End of the county.
Ford said the EDA grant will allow MRVA to continue its efforts to renovate the old Rupert Elementary School Three buildings on that campus have been redeveloped as the Meadow River Early Childhood Learning and Training Center (MARVEL), which is scheduled to open its doors this fall. The gymnasium is being used by a local wrestling team, he said, and plans are in place to transform the three-story former high school building. The Robert C. Byrd Clinic will be moved from a smaller facility in Rupert to occupy the first floor with housing to be installed on the top two floors.
“This is a tremendous effort especially for a volunteer staff,” Ford said. “There are abandoned schools all across the country, especially in West Virginia. While there’s money to build new schools, there’s no funding or plans for the abandoned structures.”
Ford said the “momentum” with this redevelopment project has generated support from the Abandoned Schools Coalition, which is promoting it as a pilot project to be presented before the state legislature as a project model to implement across the state. “We’re very proud of that.” He said the EDA grant will provide $150,000 for each of three years to develop, design, begin construction “to make this project happen.” The commission approved signing a letter of support for the grant.
Ford went on to say the MRTA recently graduated from a year-long Blueprint Community Program enhanced with grant resource benefits, including a $3,500 mini grant to improve the Meadow River Community Park at Charmco and a $23,000 grant to help cover the salary of two MRTA staff members for a three year stint. Ford allowed that since he has a full-time job and volunteers his extra time to MRVA, the added help “would be huge for me.” Involved with improving the park since 2008, Ford said, the Meadow River Community Park, now under the ownership of the MRVA, is looking better than it ever has with the aid of a donated lawnmower from the GCC and the help of volunteers who recovered and repaired playground equipment that went a quarter mile down the river in the 2016 floods.
Lastly, Ford reported on the progress of three remaining phases of the Meadow River Rail Trail project starting with reconstruction of 16.7 trail miles, damaged by flood waters near Russellville in Fayette County up river to Rainelle, to begin in November. Also the bridge that fell into the river nearby will take two years to reconstruct. And finally, the 6.4 miles leading into Rainelle, still in a design phase, is recommended for full funding. When all is done in three to four years, the 20-plus mile MRT will at last be opened for public use, Ford said.
In other county business:
- A contract agreement for architectural services with Sillings & Associates was approved for the Phase II design of the Greenbrier County Courthouse and northern annex on North Court Street. Commissioner Mike McClung offered thanks to Sillings for having offered their design services over several years without pay.
- The commission approved change orders 1 and 2 for the White Sulphur Access Road Project to clean up some administrative and line items from the TIF totaling $24,419.33, some of which is reimbursable, Rose said.
- Two new hires for the Sheriff’s Office were also approved. Sheriff Bruce Sloan recommended Ricky Barnette as a security guard for the courthouse and Cheyanne Tucker to serve in the tax department. Both will be full-time hirees.