Commission talks planning on several topics
County commissioners discussed several topics Tuesday and most of them, in one form or another, dealt with planning the countyﾒs future.
Martin Saffer, commission president, and commissioner Reta Griffith spent time on education, local foods and economic development for starters and then discussed other issues like Dilleyﾒs Mill Boy Scout Camp and grant funding for Pocahontas Woods and Allegheny Mountain Radio.
Commissioner David Fleming was not present because of illness.
County coordinator Jay Miller brought to commissioners a survey that quantifies future plans of Pocahontas County High School juniors. Miller said the survey was given to 84 members of the class of 2011. Of those, 68 percent said they planned to attend college and 34 percent said they would consider attending a ﾓOne Room Universityﾔ in Marlinton that would give students internet access to college courses, while allowing them to stay in Pocahontas County. Five of the 84 said they would attend.
While that number might seem low, itﾒs almost the target enrollment for the experimental project, Miller said.
ﾓThe data supports that about half-a-dozen students would be interested in the classes,ﾔ he said. ﾓWe would like to start out with five-to-10 and hope to [have] 10-to-20 in the following year.ﾔ
Miller said the goal is to minimize the idea that students have to leave the county in order to get a college education and also to reduce the first college semester dropout rate.
As for the local foods movement, Sue Groves told commissioners about the ﾓPlant a Row for the Hungryﾔ program that would allow gardeners to plant extra produce for donation to food pantries. Groves said people at both food pantries in the county and at Angel Food Ministries are excited about the idea of providing fresh vegetables to their clientele.
ﾓSo far, the response has been tremendous,ﾔ Groves said.
The program will have dropoff points around the county, she said.
Community gardens have been discussed, as well, Groves said.
In the economic development realm, Saffer and Griffith heard from Greenbrier Valley Ecnomic Development Corporation director Stephen Weir, who said his group is looking at strengths and weaknesses of all three counties it represents. Weir said the state development office is working with Sylvia Simpson at GVEDC on business retention and expansion in Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe counties.
ﾓItﾒs easier to retain than to recruit,ﾔ Weir said.
In terms of comprehensive planning, Weir said the GVEDC is going to ﾓcontinue to lookﾔ at what its function is and allowed that the mandated economic development agency has not been as active as it should have been in the process.
Weir said among the issues his agency must tackle is broadband development in rural areas.
ﾓIf we are successful in expanding our economy, then some problems will resolve themselves,ﾔ he explained.
Retaining a Boy Scouts of America presence at Dilleyﾒs Mill is probably short-term, Miller said. The coordinator predicted that the BSA would leave Pocahontas County by 2014 when the National Boy Scout Camp will be completed in Fayette County.
Miller said possibilities for the area include, but are not limited to, the county maintaining a wilderness camp there or selling the westerly portion to the state or federal government, both of which own adjoining property.
Griffith said she would like to keep the habitable portion for the proposed drug rehabilitation recovery center so that the county did not have to maintain two properties.
In other business, commissioners:
ﾕdesignated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
ﾕdecided 2-1 against pursuing Recovery Zone Bonds that would help build a courthouse annex. Griffith cast the negative vote. Fleming was present by telephone for that discussion.
ﾕdiscussed the courthouse emergency closing policy and procedure.
ﾕapproved budget resolutions for state grants and in-house budgets.
ﾕgranted permission to Marlinton Elementary Schoolﾒs kindergarten class to hunt Easter Eggs on the courthouse lawn.
ﾕapproved mowing contracts for Gwynne Furr at East Fork Industrial Park and for Dick Robinson at East Cass.
ﾕappointed Jerry Ramos, Cookie Doss and Mike Holstine to the Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Board.
ﾕapproved a grant resolution for Pocahontas Woods, which has its first student through New River Communty and Technical College and has shown a first-ever profit and for Allegheny Mountain Radio, which is planning to construct a repeater for the Little Levels area.
The commission will meet again in regular session April 6.