By Peggy Mackenzie
West Virginia Senator Stephen Baldwin was making the rounds to all the county commissions in his district to offer updates and assistance to the commission before the start of the legislative session. He listed several topics he’s working on that are also concerns of the commissioners.
With the increased potential for flooding, stream gauges are needed on creeks in the county. The funding is in place, Baldwin said, and WSS’s Howard’s Creek has one in place, with another scheduled soon.
Lawmakers and community members said the RISE program, a federally funded, state-managed effort to provide housing to low-income families whose homes were damaged during 2016 flooding in the state is moving too slow. Commissioner Lowell Rose commented that one of the challenges has been working with the contractor.
In a closely related topic, Baldwin said although funding for the hazard mitigation program has been approved by the state, getting the funds hasn’t been so easy. Families have been waiting for three years for their blighted, dilapidated, flood damaged homes to be demolished. Baldwin has been closely following the issue.
Baldwin said harvest time is approaching for industrial hemp now being grown around Greenbrier, Pocahontas and Monroe counties. He anticipates that some growers should do well with the investment, while others, depending on how the plants are harvested, may lose their investment. The issue is gauging the percentage amount of the high-inducing chemical THC, which, if only the tops are ground up will likely be elevated, whereas, if the whole plant is ground up, the percentage is much lower and will make the hemp useful for industrial uses. Baldwin said growing hemp is going to bring in money to the counties and is worth more per acre than any other agricultural product.
Lastly, Baldwin said the commission has likely received as many calls as he has about road repair scheduling. The good news is, there’s now an interactive map available online at WVDOT, which shows all the state roads and when each is scheduled for re-pavement and repair.
- Two Draw Resolutions related to the Greenbrier TIF District were approved for the Great Barrel Company’s access road and sewer line extension totaling $373,481.
- The commissioners approved hiring Cynthia Alley to replace Joni Harrah as Fiduciary Supervisor, pending a background check and fiduciary testing. Harrah is moving on to take a position within the Sheriff’s Office Tax division.
- County Clerk Robin Loudermilk presented new hire Sarah Blankenship to serve in the clerk’s office as a part time employee. She was approved by the commission.
At the end of the meeting, former Airport Manager Stephen Snyder offered comments in which he asked the commission to deliver correspondence items he’d requested in a FOIA to the Ethics Commission. He made claims of malfeasance on the part of un-named commission members, requested that commission members not attend any airport executive session meeting without public notice and spoke to other “ongoing concerns.” Rose stated Snyder was making accusations and was not allowed to do so.