Update from the Commission President
From the Commission President
As I look back on this past year, many thoughts and emotions run through me.
There were contentious times when it seemed to me so much was on the line. Things didn’t always turn out the way I might have hoped. There were fulfilling times when I felt we accomplished so much, especially for our service groups and organizations; it is always a pleasure to be able to financially assist worthwhile community projects. And I know through working with fellow commissioners Martin Saffer and Jamie Walker that they, too, had the privilege and burden of experiencing the same sorts of ups and downs. It is a tough, and rewarding, job. And I know I speak for them both when I say we all enjoy it. That might seem hard to believe, at times, but we do. We are glad to serve you.
The elections in May and November have shown us who will be leaving public office, and who will be returning or beginning anew. For those leaving office, I have fond and bittersweet thoughts and feelings. I have very much enjoyed working alongside Kathy Beverage and Janet Kershner-Vanover. I remember our many conversations, and have always had high regard for them and the tough job they performed both day and night. Donna Meadows Price was always very courteous and professional with me as our prosecuting attorney. I cannot imagine the pressure that job can put upon an individual. I wish each of them peace, and I will miss them all.
And then there is Martin. My friend and comrade with whom I have had many a pleasurable experience advancing the good for Pocahontas County, and with whom I have had many a disagreement. I don’t know that I can sufficiently describe the unique privilege it has been to serve with one so intelligent and concerned for both environment and community as Martin. I will miss him greatly.
In my first and fast four years as a county commissioner, I could not have prepared myself for the rapid change in faces and issues that - I have come to learn - takes place in public service to the county. And I think that if I am learning anything, it is that I cannot truly know what issues will come in 2013. However, one thing we do know now is the team. We know the faces, familiar and new, that will lead our county government into and through 2013.
I am eager to continue, to begin again, with Dolan Irvine as our new county commissioner. Undoubtedly his long- standing experience in county matters is something from which both Jamie and I will learn much. Gene Simmons returning as prosecuting attorney after a long hiatus brings elements of both old and new; i.e. his depth of experience in the office and us working alongside one another for the first time. And our new magistrates Carrie Wilfong and Cynthia Broce Kelley will face new challenges as they bring fresh thinking to the magistrate court process. Tom Lane as our new assessor ensures that property owners will continue to benefit from the collective experience his team possesses.
Just as looking back throughout 2012 brings many thoughts and feelings to bear, looking forward to 2013 does the same. And we all, both old and new, enjoy the privilege and the opportunity to serve you, once again and for the first time.
As always, the Pocahontas County Commission serves you. Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or email@example.com, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864.
Our assistant Sue Helton can be reached at 304-799-6063 or shelton1@assessor. state.wv.us.
From the Commission President
For the Pocahontas County Commission, the new year begins with a new budget on July 1. As part of the annual budgeting process, there are a number of yearly contracts that must be revisited each spring in preparation for the coming year. For many years, one such contract has been for the sheltering, care, adoption and management of dogs and cats in Pocahontas County.
Over the past four years, we have had much conversation on the issue of animal welfare. Many citizens and several animal welfare groups have given countless hours toward improving the living and sheltering conditions of stray, neglected, and abandoned dogs and cats. Finding ways to fund the animal welfare effort in Pocahontas County is an on-going challenge. The Pocahontas County Humane Society relies heavily on donations, and they work hard with what they receive. Likewise, the Pocahontas County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals must raise funds to further their work. And for a number of years, Last Chance Animal Rescue in Durbin, under the leadership of Sandy Mallow, has managed to find homes for many dogs and cats, despite having little funding to work with.
To these organizations and concerned citizens, thank you for all you do, and for all you will continue to do. Like many of you, I believe the challenge of providing quality animal welfare should be a partnership between county government, our humane organizations, and our citizenry. In recent years, we have had moments of great collaboration, and yes, moments of great disagreement. Consequently, we have had to adapt in terms of shelter locations and management approaches. Yet along the way, each and all of you have had one and the same goal: to provide the best possible care for the animals.
As many of you have shared with us, I too believe that the key aspect to achieving this goal is to have a county-owned and county-operated animal shelter; one that operates in partnership with our animal organizations, citizenry, and indeed other resources such as our schools and our community corrections program.
The Hanover Shoe building in Marlinton is county-owned and is currently under lease with Allegheny Recreation Center (ARC). The ARC is owned and operated by John Fitzgerald and J.P. Duncan. A few years ago, John and J.P. repurposed the building for use as a community center, hosting concerts, flea markets, cakewalks and related activities. John and J.P. have also provided space for other small businesses to set up shop. They also, during their time as our contractor for animal control, built out a nice portion of the building for use as an animal shelter for dogs and cats, complete with runs and bathing/cleaning facilities for the animals.
This past year, due to several considerations not the least of which was limited funding, the County Commission contracted with Sandy Mallow to provide animal control and welfare services for the county. Sandy's long-standing experience in animal adoption and rescue efforts is second to none. And while her sheltering accommodations could match neither the quality of the Hanover building nor its convenient location, she worked hard with the funding we provided her to build out new pads and shelters. I personally visited on a number of occasions, and am very impressed with the improvements she made to her facilities and with her devotion to animal welfare. Sandy, thank you so much for all you do.
As we were considering what to do this coming 2012-2013 fiscal year for animal welfare for Pocahontas County, Sheriff David Jonese and ARC owner John Fitzgerald approached the Commission with a proposal to operate the animal shelter under the auspices of the Sheriff's department, with agreement from ARC for the County Commission use the animal shelter portion of the Hanover building forthwith for this purpose.
I was glad for this, as I see this as a step in the direction many are wishing to go. This will be the first time, to my knowledge, that animal control will be operated as a function of county government. I regard this as a major advance for all our efforts. As a county-operated facility, we as a community now have assurance that there will be predictability to the enterprise. We have a convenient location, a solid indoor structure, and the opportunity to work together, once again, toward more moments of great collaboration.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you.
Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or email@example.com, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864. Our assistant, Sue Helton, can be reached at 304-799-6063 or shelton1@assessor .state.wv.us.
David M. Fleming, President
Pocahontas County Commission
From the Commission President
Two days after the March 20 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, I was driving out of Old Pike Road when on the iPod began to play George Winston's "Before Barbed Wire" from his "Plains" album. I was still hurting, and Winston's instrumental piano was a most unexpected and timely comfort. I stopped the truck, turned off the engine, and began to gaze out and upon Deer Creek Valley. The weather was insanely great, the sky likewise and blue, the vista grand and second to none. I rolled down the window. Each chord, softly hammered forth from Winston's fingertips, led me to ponder the metaphor of the song's title and its tranquil sound.
West Virginia has 167 county commissioners. Each of our 55 counties has three commissioners, with Jefferson being the exception at five. Following state law, each county annually designates an economic development authority, and each county appoints at least one of its commissioners as a representative on the board of its development authority. For Pocahontas County, our development authority is the three-county Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, or GVEDC for short. Monroe and Greenbrier counties are the other two member counties of the GVEDC. Pocahontas has six members on the GVEDC board, of which I am one.
As part of our individual responsibilities, county commissioners serve on various governmental and organizational boards. For Pocahontas County, each year during the first commission meeting in January, we discuss which boards each of us will serve on for the new year. Some of these appointments end up being the same as the previous year, while other appointments change based on circumstances. The Pocahontas Times and Allegheny Mountain Radio report to the public about which of us commissioners are serving on which boards. The GVEDC is one such board, and I am in my fourth year as its commission representative.
Since there are many boards requiring commissioner representation, we divvy up the board appointments so as to spread the workload. Commissioner Martin Saffer, for example, serves on the Senior Citizens Board, among others. Commissioner Jamie Walker serves on the Farmland Protection Board, among others. In each case, the appointed commissioner serves as liaison between the full Commission and the board's needs and objectives. In the case of the GVEDC, I am thCe liaison between the full Commission and the GVEDC board. In all cases, these are not conflicts of interest - they are part of our individual job requirements.
Economic development is one of the responsibilities of county government. For my part, I strive for a balance between what I feel is compatible with our county's inherent gifts and strengths, what I think is necessary to keep existing industry and business alive and prospering, and what I can do to create new business. It is indeed an honor to have this responsibility, and it is one that must be approached with an open mind willing to work with others in balancing perspectives and needs. I enjoy the challenge, and I am grateful to you all for the opportunity.
Over the past year or so, we have discussed openly a number of economic opportunities and concerns. While we work hard to maintain civility and respect throughout, sometimes it doesn't work out that way. The March 20 meeting regarding Meck's business expansion was one such time.
As George Winston so simply encourages, I believe in a place before barbed wire. A time when neighbors, friends, and those with opposing views are able to respect one another's thoughts, positions, responsibilities, and decisions without resorting to serrated strands of steel to demarcate unmoving mindsets. A place devoid of ad hominem expression. A county of compromise and collaboration as the normal discourse. Above all, I wish to encourage you to believe likewise.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you. Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or email@example.com, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864. Our assistant, Sue Helton, can be reached at 304-799-6063 or shelton1@assessor .state.wv.us.
Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget-setting meetings scheduled
We have established the dates for the budget-setting meetings of the Pocahontas County Commission for Fiscal Year 2012-2013. Our fiscal year is July 1 through June 30. Four meetings are scheduled, with the first three being for budget discussion and figuring, and the fourth being for adoption of the budget. All budget meetings by law are open to the public, and these meetings will take place in the county commission room at the courthouse.
The dates for the first three budget meetings are Thursday, March 8, Friday, March 9, and Thursday, March 15. These three meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. The fourth budget meeting will occur as part of our regular commission meeting on Tuesday, March 20, beginning at 5 p.m.
Additional meetings might need to be scheduled due to the need for more budgetary work than anticipated. In this event, any additional meetings will be publicly noticed, as well.
We are facing several issues heading into the budgeting process. Among them, the Pocahontas County Historical Preservation Project needs financial assistance in order to qualify for further grant funding and to continue operation in the year ahead. Animal welfare, which we currently bid on an annual basis, continues to rely on the county for funding. Law enforcement staffing and funding is one of the most challenging aspects of county government. We will need to work with the Sheriff's Department together to understand these challenges and find balance - balance that acknowledges the costs of overtime, the struggles of deputy retention, and the limits of county funding, given a still-stagnant economy.
During the budgeting process, the County Commission will hear from county department heads and elected officials on the issues they are facing. This process is key in our mutual understanding of the overall county governmental challenges and how we are going to address funding concerns together. It is truly a pleasure to be part of such a cooperative process, and we look forward to working together in improving the funding and fiscal responsibility of Pocahontas County government.
On a different, but familiar matter, I want to take a moment to express the unanimous gratitude of the Pocahontas County Commission to the members and staff of the Pocahontas County Public Service District for their diligent and tireless work. Thanks to board members David Litsey, Tom Shipley and Amon Tracey. Even though so many of us are aware of the Snowshoe area sewer issue, I wanted to make sure that we all know how very long they have labored with this task. There is yet a long way to go, but this board has unanimously found a way forward that has community consensus the likes of which this project has never seen before. Much thanks, too, to Ricky Barkley, Lloyd Coleman and Heidi Hickson, who are in the trenches - many days literally so - keeping operations going. The Pocahontas County Commission is wholeheartedly grateful to you all, and we wish for you great speed and peace.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you. Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or email@example.com, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864. Our assistant Sue Helton can be reached at 304-799-6063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Commission President
Welcome all to the new year! So far in 2012, we are finding ourselves in the midst of a milder winter as compared to 2011. Indeed, let us all hope for kinder conditions in all ways as we face new challenges and discover new opportunities in this year.
A challenge we have faced for some years at the East Fork Industrial Park in Frank is beginning to become opportunity. When weather warms, final work will begin in remediating the sludge containment lagoon at the Howe's Leather site. When completed, we will finally be compliant with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, we are continuing work on salvaging tanks and abandoned metal structures at the Park. Both of these projects will provide a few jobs and income for families.
Each year in January, we get to hear from county groups and organizations that benefit from the collection of hotel/motel tax in Pocahontas County. While tourism income in Pocahontas County is down due to the national economy, the hotel/motel tax continues to provide much-needed funding that benefits all of us. State law allows for counties to fund hospitals and emergency services up to a total of $200,000 each year from this income, and this time around we were glad to be able to maintain the full level of funding to these services that are there in times of need for all of us. We maintained the funding of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital at $75,000, Emergency Medical Services at $75,000, and our fire departments at $50,000. The Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) by law receives 50% of hotel/motel tax, and the CVB continues to use this funding to promote tourism-related businesses and events across our county. Other groups that continue to benefit from hotel/motel tax include Pocahontas County Free Libraries, Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation, Pocahontas County Dramas, Fairs and Festivals, Pocahontas County Landmarks Commission, and the Pocahontas County Arts Council. Each of these organizations face declining budgets, and part of this decline is with respect to the hotel/motel tax. This fact, coupled with the essential and wonderful services and benefits these organizations provide, underscores the importance of tourism in Pocahontas County.
A wonderful project that has been ongoing for more than four years is the Pocahontas County Historic Preservation Team (HPT). A small but magnificent part of what the HPT does is to present a photograph of our past each week in this paper. The HPT in its grand vision of cataloging and archiving the family histories of Pocahontas County benefits from the offerings that many of you have made - and continue to make. Funding for this project is tight. This is the challenge. The opportunity we have is to work together to find county and grant funding to help this wonderful project continue. The making of history does not stop. The preservation and promotion of history must also continue.
The Pocahontas County Commission will begin the budgeting process for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 in March. We look forward to working with all county offices and county organizations who rely on us as part of their financial planning and operation. Please begin to let us know of the challenges you are facing in your upcoming budgets, and begin to discuss with us the opportunities you see in this new year.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you. Sign up at www.PocahontasCountyCommission.com to receive agendas via email, and please contact us anytime with your questions, thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at 304-456-4016 or flem email@example.com, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418 or martinsaf firstname.lastname@example.org, and Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864. Our assistant Sue Helton can be reached at 304-799-6063 or email@example.com. wv.us
From the Commission President
The Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit, "The Way We Worked," began in Marlinton on September 10 and will end its stay Saturday, October 22. At the open house ceremony on September 19, many long-established Pocahontas County businesses were recognized for 50-plus years of service to us. It was an honor to speak to those in attendance and to present awards to our businesses who have persevered and prospered through the years.
In calling forth the many names to be recognized, there were a special few dear to my heart. I am writing to you today to reflect upon this, and to illuminate their struggles of recent years as I have seen them for myself.
Sharp's Country Store was recognized for 127 years of doing business in Pocahontas County. How close we came to forgetting the value of the Sharp family business to our county's way of life. How nearly we came to deciding that any manner of "progress," no matter how detrimental to the Sharp family and business, was justified. In the end, we came around and were able to look beyond a limited definition of progress to the larger definition of community and our collective heritage. It was the biggest honor of my time in office to shake Tom Shipley's hand in acknowledging the long and continuing service of Sharp's Country Store to the way we worked and work still.
Sheets GMC was recognized for 88 years of automotive excellence in Pocahontas County. Fewer than two years ago, in the midst of America's economic recession and automobile manufacturing crisis, Sheets GMC received "the letter" and very nearly had to close its doors forever. I know you share my gratitude that General Motors and the economy turned around just enough so that Sheets' franchise was reinstated at the 11th hour. How honored I was to recognize the tenacity of Sheets GMC and to celebrate the unending service that Charlie and Carolyn Sheets and the gang provide to our residents and businesses.
Boyer Station Motel Restaurant and Campground was recognized for 53 years of providing their guests and our tourists excellent accommodations, dining and facilities. Recently I was enjoying dinner at the restaurant, and noticed that the business is up for sale. We will never know finer business owners and people than Frank and Susie Murphy. While I was saddened at the prospect of missing the Murphys next season, I was also that much more appreciative of their warm hospitality and the many conversations we've shared. Frank and Susie have been running the Station for so long; I never knew any other owners of the business. I wish them all the best, and I wish, too, that new and good owners come soon to carry Boyer Station forward. It will be tough for anyone, as the Murphys are leaving some big shoes to fill.
As you read these words, I imagine you, too, can reflect upon businesses owned by friends or family - yourself even - that have likewise struggled extra hard through the years. I imagine also that you can recall periods in which they have prospered. This is the way work in Pocahontas County is. At times prosperous, at times perilous. At all times, not for the faint of heart.
Here, I have reflected upon but three of the many enduring businesses that continue to serve Pocahontas County. To all of our businesses, thank you for your tenacity and your heart and the continuity of the way you work that is the essence of community.
Marcellus Shale and our way of life
In recent meetings of the county commission, we have been hearing from citizens regarding the drawbacks of Marcellus Shale gas drilling. We have also heard from Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, an organization assisting municipalities (e.g. Pittsburgh) in asserting their right to protect themselves from hydraulic fracturing and lack of state-level oversight.
Since a few years back, when landmen visited Pocahontas County acquiring mineral rights, we have all been on an educational tour de force in our struggle to learn more. For my part, it began as it did for many of you by attending informational meetings at Marlinton Middle School and Municipal Building. I later attended a gas drilling seminar in Buckhannon and have seen a Marcellus drilling operation there. I have seen the technology and process presented in detail, and was assured that this method, while never before tested, would be safe.
Today, there are hundreds of Marcellus operations. I have been watching and listening as rural Pennsylvania townships struggle to understand the profound changes occurring to them. Throughout Pennsylvania - and an increasing number of West Virginia counties - water supplies are being destroyed. The sound, lights and intensity of the 24/7 drilling process is insufferable to homeowners who have signed away their mineral rights. Many homeowners can't use their water at all, now having to use water from "water buffaloes" - giant above-ground tanks filled with water from somewhere else. I listened to the account of Marty and Sarah in Wetzel County, a leaseholder and his daughter who now are required to sign in and wear protective gear to gain access to their land. There too, school buses require police escort to safely traverse the roads that are crumbling as they carry the 24-hour truck traffic for which the infrastructure was never designed. Lifelong residents are moving out, workers and their families are moving in.
The impacts of this drilling practice have proven to be, in fact, beyond my imagination. The very character of communities is being forever changed by the voracity of the enterprise. The very notion that a surface owner retains any rights at all to their land is being summarily dismissed in the momentum.
This is, it turns out, about much more than water. This is about understanding the value of a way of life, about understanding that communities are being forever changed. This might sound sensational, but this is not. This is what we know now. This is what we need to address.
The role of the Pocahontas County Commission is to listen. We are very grateful for the input we are receiving from you all. Our role is also to protect. With your help, we are looking at what we can do to assert our right to safeguard our communities and way of life, now and for our future.
Please continue sharing your thoughts and concerns with us. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-456-4016, Commissioner Martin Saffer at email@example.com or 304-653-4418, Commissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864, and our assistant Sue Helton at 304-799-6063.
From the Commission President
I cannot think about higher education without contemplating the doors it has opened for me. So when I ponder upon the One Room University project, and upon those individuals and organizations who have worked with dogged focus to bring it about, I immediately extend my wants and well-wishes to our people - graduating seniors, those seeking a career change, young and old alike - that the One Room University will be a place of first doors for many.
We speak often of our want for our people to be able to stay here, to make their living here. Indeed, if it were not for my college education, the opportunity to come and live in Pocahontas County would never have even occurred. This fact, this being my own experience, causes me to think that if a college education made it possible for me to come to Pocahontas County, then the One Room University can be, for many people, the first step toward staying in Pocahontas County.
We speak often about job creation, about creating new industry and economic opportunity in the face of declining population. Increased opportunities to receive a higher education - here at home - are imperative to these goals. Toward these objectives, for the One Room University and the hope it brings, the Pocahontas County Commission is grateful.
Many people continue to work to make the One Room University a close-to-home college education for Pocahontas Countians. While I am sure I don't know all who have contributed to this effort, I do know that Jay Miller, Pocahontas County Coordinator, Dean Roger Griffith and Director Bill Loope, of New River Community and Technical College, and Brett Withers, President of City National Bank in Marlinton have all gone above and beyond in their efforts. Without their combined endeavors and the commitments of New River and City National Bank, this initiative would not be possible. Natasha McMann did much of the early community interest and survey work, and Elaine Diller is instrumental in reaching out across the county to promote and carry forth this endeavor.
To each of you, the Pocahontas County Commission is deeply appreciative, and because of you, Pocahontas County herself has been presented a new door.
From the Commission President
We adopted our budget in late March, and the good news is that we areﾠexpecting a modest carry-over into the next fiscal year. Initially we hadﾠestimated that property tax revenues would be substantially below theﾠprevious year. But in March, Assessor Dolan Irvine provided us withﾠslightly better news that allowed us to strike a balance between raising theﾠlevy rate and remaining revenue-neutral as compared to last year. So ratherﾠthan maximizing the levy rate as other counties have had to do (14.30%), weﾠwere able to raise our levy rate only slightly to 14.17%.
On April 8, the grand opening of our newest Veterans AdministrationﾠOutpatient Clinic was held in Maxwelton at the Rahall Technology andﾠBusiness Center. The weather cooperated and many veterans and citizens wereﾠin attendance. Many thanks to the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development
Corporation (GVEDC) and the Veterans Administration for making this aﾠreality. Being a member of the GVEDC board for the past two years, I haveﾠhad the privilege of watching and participating in this discussion, and I amﾠso glad that it is now a reality. Clinic hours are Monday throughﾠFriday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Their phone number is 304-497-3900.
An area of concern in past years has been with respect to how and when theﾠCommission grants contributions to the many and various communityﾠorganizations with which we are blessed. Typically, an organization wouldﾠapproach us for financial assistance, at which time we would look at ourﾠbudget-to-date and make a decision based on the amount and purpose of the
request. This approach led to a kind of budget-creep situation; a
perpetually uneasy feeling, and not a very sound approach fiscallyﾠspeaking. So for the upcoming budget year, we have addressed this byﾠallocating a specific line item for such contributions, and have scheduled aﾠseries of quarterly meetings of the Commission at which we consider and act
upon requests to date. We had the first such meeting in early May. Iﾠbelieve this approach makes the awarding process more cogent and fiscallyﾠresponsible.
Through the hard work of the Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Forceﾠand discussions with our representatives and board members of the WestﾠVirginia Resource Advisory Committee, the Task Force is the recipient ofﾠapproximately $170K in funds that will be used to complete our WaterﾠResources Management Plan (WRMP). The completion of this quantitative andﾠqualitative study of Pocahontas County's invaluable water resources is atﾠthe core of the Task Force's mission. The results of this study will beﾠincorporated into the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's state-wideﾠmission. Most importantly, this effort, these results, establish PocahontasﾠCounty as a leader in discussions and issues concerning the value of ourﾠwaters.
Lastly, I give my full thanks to the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Departmentﾠfor their fine planning and recent investigation leading to multiple arrestsﾠon drug-related charges in our county. I am grateful for this leadershipﾠand for the positive difference it makes in Pocahontas County.
The Pocahontas County Commission serves you. Please contact us with yourﾠquestions and concerns at 304-799-6063. Our assistant is Sue Helton. I canﾠbe reached at 304-456-4016, Commissioner Martin Saffer at 304-653-4418, andﾠCommissioner Jamie Walker at 304-799-0864.
From the Commission Presidentby David Fleming
Recently I sat down with Pocahontas County 9-1-1 Coordinator Bill McLaughlin to talk about the current status of the county's Emergency 9-1-1 Mapping and Addressing System. The goal of this system is to assign every county residence a physical address that is based on road names and house numbers so that when a citizen calls 9-1-1 for assistance, emergency personnel can easily find their way to the caller's residence.
Prior to 2007, the State of West Virginia had the responsibility to create the 9-1-1 system for all counties. However, due to legislative changes, the creation of the 9-1-1 system was transitioned to each individual county. At the time of transition, the State hadn't performed any work toward or for Pocahontas County. It was at this time that Bill McLaughlin was assigned the task for Pocahontas County. The operation of the Pocahontas County 9-1-1 office is funded both by 9-1-1 fees assessed on land phones and cell phones, as well as by county funds.
Although each county is responsible for its part of the 9-1-1 system, the State of West Virginia maintains responsibility for the hardware and software infrastructure necessary to assemble each county's 9-1-1 data into a state-wide database. Additionally, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has the responsibility to approve the conversion from "old" carrier route-style addresses to "new" 9-1-1 physical addresses. Also, associating phone numbers with physical residences is part of the effort, so Frontier Communications is a partner, as well. Therefore the creation and maintenance of Pocahontas County's Emergency 9-1-1 System is a collaboration between the County, the State, the USPS and Frontier.
In 2008, we hired Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist Matt Taylor. Matt's responsibility is to acquire, assemble, and submit address data to West Virginia's state-wide system. Bill and Matt have approached this in a per-ZIP code fashion. This is amenable to the manner in which the USPS is able to verify addresses. To date, Matt has completed an initial entry of addresses for the ZIP codes comprising Durbin, Bartow, Arbovale, Green Bank and Cass. Remaining to be completed are Dunmore, Marlinton, Hillsboro and Slaty Fork. Currently only the ZIP code of Durbin has been submitted to the USPS for address verification and conversion. It was submitted a year ago, and we are awaiting confirmation from USPS on Durbin.
It was good to sit down with Bill and Matt to delve into the details of the Emergency 9-1-1 system. As a result, I have a greater appreciation for the daily technology hurdles, as well as for the inter-agency processes that take time to complete. One concern I had was that we need to have more frequent updates on the project status. For example, bi-monthly statements on the progress the county is making on its portion of the problem. Bill and Matt wholeheartedly agreed that this was important. So we look forward to keeping you apprised on a more frequent basis of progress made on Pocahontas County's Emergency 9-1-1 System.