By Peggy Mackenzie
The Greenbrier County Commission approved sponsorship for a Small City Block grant resubmission to fund an ongoing water project for PSD #2 to benefit the western end of the county by supplying water access to Crichton, Sam Black Church and Rainelle. Of the total $1.5 million grant, $200,000 has already been allocated, stated Region 4 Planning and Development Council Executive Director John Tuggle.
In order to access the remaining $1.3 million, a public hearing was convened at the Tuesday meeting to fulfill a procedural requirement. Tuggle said it is fortunate for the county that it only took two years to get the funding for this much needed water project. He credited Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in pushing the funding through. He said the next piece is especially critical to the project, as those funds will cover the engineering and equipment costs. The total cost for the water project is expected to run up to $10 million.
Commission President Michael McClung said the project will complement a larger county-wide goal of providing additional water sources for county residents.
In other business:
• A compromise was reached by the commission in considering the boundaries for the various county emergency medical service providers (EMS), which, according to Commissioner Woody Hanna, included concerns over which EMS provider would cover the Williamsburg area, as a result of the closure of Williamsburg’s volunteer fire department. The nearest EMS is located in Fairlea, Hanna said. With the installation of the new 911 GPS system, the EMS advisory board came up with a plan to dispatch whichever EMS provider that could arrive the quickest, designating both the Fairlea and the Northern Greenbrier EMS for the job.
Adjustments had been made to the EMS boundary maps for the northern parts of the county, Hanna said. Those revisions were recommended as the best plan to provide emergency services where the loss of volunteer fire departments have created gaps. The plan would require monitoring and will be revisited next year, Commissioner Lowell Rose said.
Lewisburg Fire Chief Wayne Pennington commented that since the Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department’s first due area borders the areas mentioned, and is the back-up for the Fairlea Volunteer Fire Department, the boundary shifts would affect that department as well. He said Mayor John Manchester had sent the commission a letter asking that the boundaries be clearly determined.
• Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill presented a request to hire Billy Wayne Mitchell, Jr., currently employed by the Alderson Police Department, to join the Sheriff’s Department.
• The Commission also approved two new hirees for the 911 Center: Sharon Boone and Aaron Walker were hired as full time dispatchers.
• 911 Center Executive Director Al Whitaker asked to approve a FEMA buy-out hazard mitigation grant fund of $226,500 to remove two structures in Rainelle area.
• The Arts & Recreation Committee sent their recommendations to the commission after a lengthy meeting held last week, in which local non-profits met with the commissioners to plead their cases for funding. A total of $474,005 will be distributed to qualifying groups and organizations in the coming fiscal year.
• A vote to purchase a new 4-door Dodge truck for the county’s animal control officer’s use, passed 2-1, which the commission anticipated would cost $24,500. Although he agreed the vehicle was needed, McClung, who cast the dissenting vote, said the purchase creates a problem because funding for the purchase is not in the budget. He noted a loop hole in the wording in the county’s contract with the Humane Society, which states: “funding is given only if funds are available.” The society receives $200,000 from the county to maintain the animal control center. The animal control officer’s budget adds another $67,000. Rose suggested taking $13,000 from the current budget and then allowing the contingency fund to cover the remaining expense.
• The commission voted to hold the next commission meeting on Monday, May 9, at 10 a.m.
• Early voting began on Wednesday, Apr. 26, according to County Clerk Robin Loudermilk. She said sample ballots are on the county website at greenbrierwv.com. Tuesday, May 10, is election day.