By Adam Pack
The Greenbrier County Commission met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jul. 11, at 10 a.m. in the County Commission offices of the new courthouse addition to discuss, among other matters, two change orders from contractors working on the Meadow River Rail Trail.
Matt Ford was present at the meeting to explain the change orders from Court Street Construction and Lynch Construction, two of the contractors working on the trail. Change Order #4 for Court Street Construction was brought up first and totals $17,908.25. This represents work, “which was needed due to rain, specifically last summer, in order to protect some of the work Court Street had done,” Ford said. The second change order, Change Order #4 for Lynch Construction, was described by Ford as, “a change order in the amount of $129,107.65, and it extends their substantial completion date to Sept. 1. It includes various items from installation to a wing-wall on a bridge that’s already been rehabilitated that needed some additional improvement to protect it from high water, drainage repairs, and improvements to various sections of the trail.”
Perhaps most importantly, Ford noted that this change order represents the need to address a rather specific problem. “[Lynch needs to] block off and make inaccessible some access roads that people have been using to get onto the trail with ATVs. [ATV riders] will try to pull up bollards, tear down signs, you name it; so we’re trying to limit that access.” The county commission approved both change orders.
The county also considered the authorization of a feasibility study for connecting the Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs water systems. This would be only a study, and would not include any work to the end of connecting to the two city’s water systems, and any connections between the cities would be for the use of one city during times of emergency. Though only a study, this would be a necessary step to what Commissioner Lowell Rose called, “A very good idea that I and others, engineers, have considered a good plan for some years but that certain people didn’t think necessary. It just makes sense to have the major cities of the county connected and working together in the case of any emergency so that each city could use the other for a backup.” Commissioner Blaine Phillips added some recent history to underscore his approval of the concept, saying; “I remember when that tanker turned over on Route 92, the water problems that caused lasted several days, and an arrangement like this could have fixed that.” With more positive inclinations toward the notion in both Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs recently, as noted by Commissioner Rose, the County Commission approved the feasibility study into this project.
The county then moved to take further action on the ongoing opioid distributors settlement. The county considered whether to sign documents releasing and electing to receive settlement funds from Kroger. The county approved the document signing, and Commissioner Tammy Tincher clarified, “Just so that the public is aware, this is a very long litigious process, and the counties and cities involved are still working their way through it and as of yet no funds have been distributed.”
Action was also required on the part of the commission regarding new legislation. The state association of county governments (The West Virginia Association of Counties or W.V.A.Co) has recently successfully lobbied for reform in the way county governments pay for upgrades, renovations, repairs, and other costs associated with election equipment and security, and record keeping. The state has established Funds 61 and 62, which pertain to monies available to the county for election execution and security, and document recording purposes, respectively. Previously, Clerk Robin Loudermilk explained, “The state auditor’s office receives one third of every county’s administrative fees on things like marriages, deed recording, and things like that. Previously, I would just sign one check to the Auditor’s Office and that was that. Now, one smaller check will go to the Auditor’s Office and two will go into these new funds (61 and 62). They are only to be used for their designated purposes and require the signature of myself, the commissioners, and the sheriff.” Previously, the release of funds had to be signed off on by the Auditor’s Office in Charleston, but now funds from Funds 61 and 62 can be approved entirely locally.
In other news, the commission heard the request for hire of Crystal L. Callison from the Assessor’s Office to fill a vacancy. The commission approved this hire, as well as the re-appointment of Gregg Furlong to the Airport Authority and Kim Estep to the Board of Health, both for five year terms. Commissioner Tincher added that, “both of these individuals and everyone serving on these boards and authorities and councils are all unpaid volunteers, and work very hard, investing a lot of time, in order to make sure that this county runs well. It’s a thankless job, and I just want to take a moment to say that I for one am very grateful and thankful they’ve committed to renew their terms and continue serving Greenbrier County.”