The Greenbrier County Commission approved the Greenbrier Humane Society’s annual contract for the continued support of the county’s animal shelter in a split decision vote 2-1, with Commission President Michael McClung casting the dissenting vote.
“This is a subject of disagreement,” which, he said, he could not support. McClung argued that according to code, if the county opts to hire an animal control officer, then the county is responsible for the care of those animals the ACO picks up. Last year, the ACO brought in 243 dogs. Divide 243 into $267,000, and the cost per dog comes to just under $1,100, he said. Seen from that perspective, the cost for an animal shelter is high.
“Of course,” McClung added, “the $200,000 to the Humane Society does a lot more. It is unquestionable those are good works, but,” he said, “we are not obligated to fund those good works.”
The contract agreement with the Humane Society at $200,000 is to be paid quarterly, subject to available funds. The ACO’s wages, benefits and vehicle maintenance come to $67,000 per year and are included in the budget for the animal shelter.
In a related topic, Commissioner Woody Hanna asked the commission to consider revising the policy and procedures for the animal control department due to a number of incoming calls involving cruelty and neglect to animals. Hanna said ACO Robert McClung determined that many of those calls should be considered “nuisance calls” from persons likely unfamiliar with the handling of farm animals.
Hanna said Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill has asked that those calls be referred to the ACO to assess before handing them off to the sheriff’s office. The commission agreed to make a recommendation to that effect in the policy manual.
• The commission heard a request for funding from Greenbrier County Commission on Aging presented by past president Gloria Martin, in which she cited the many services to seniors the GCCA provides, including delivering 28,266 Meals on Wheels to home bound seniors, and 14,360 meals served at their three center sites in Rupert, Fairlea and Alderson. Martin said the GCCA is facing a loss of funds and has made several cutbacks to personnel hours with no decrease in workload. Martin requested the commission consider funding the GCCA in the amount of $35,000 for the current budget year.
While offering sympathy for the GCCA’s financial straits, McClung said the commission was not at liberty to consider Martin’s presentation since it was not on the agenda.
• In old business: The commission approved the appointment of Sheriff Cahill to replace Cleo Clendenen as personal representative on the estate of his brother Nelson G. Clendenen.
• In new business: The commission signed a General Federation of Women’s Clubs proclamation and a proclamation for child abuse awareness supported by the Women’s Club.
• Angela Lester was approved as a full-time employee for the Day Report Center, as home confinement secretary, in a motion by Commissioner Lowell Rose. Rose added a requirement statement to the motion that a copy of all county new hirees’ qualification documents be provided to the commissioners so “we can know who we are hiring,” prior to the presentation requests by the department heads at commission meetings. That motion was approved unanimously.
• 911 Center and Homeland Security Director AI Whitaker presented a resolution stating that the week of Apr. 10-16 be proclaimed National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, “in honor of the diligence and dedication of the men and women who serve to keep our cities and county safe.”
• In considering funding to be allocated to the Arts & Recreation Committee for the 2016-2017 grant cycle, Rose recommended the sum of $450,000, the same amount allocated last year. McClung said there are $806,576 in A&R fund requests, many of which, as Rose stated, are not fundable because they don’t meet the A&R criteria. McClung moved to amend Rose’s motion by upping the amount to $500,000. The motion was approved.
• The commission will reconvene the budget meeting to set the levy on Tuesday, Apr. 19, in the courthouse at 11 a.m.
• County Clerk Robin Loudermilk announced that April 19 is the last date to register to vote in the coming primary election in May. She said early voting is set for Apr. 27 – May 7 at both the county courthouse in Lewisburg and the Rupert Community Center in Rupert. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Both locations are open to voters in all precincts.
• Arts & Rec Director Roy Grimes announced that applicants for A&R grant funds from the 2016-17 fiscal year make their presentations to the commission at the courthouse on Apr. 21 at 5 p.m.
• Greenbrier Valley Theatre Executive Director Cathey Sawyer reminded the audience and commission that the theater will hold a Meet The Candidates Forum on Tuesday, Apr. 19, at 7 p.m. The candidates will be Jeff Kessler and Booth Goodwin, who are running for the office of governor on the Democratic ticket. Sawyer said the third Democratic candidate, Jim Justice, has thus far not responded to the invitation to participate.