Marlinton Wellness Center gets boost from commission
The proposed Marlinton Wellness Center got a boost from the Pocahontas County Commission Tuesday. Commissioners voted to give $15,000 to the project to help make up the difference between the budget and the low bid.
Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Bennett said the top two bids were within $50,000 of each other, so the P&R board knew the bids were in range. The project has been bid out twice, with the first low bid coming in at more than $1 million over budget. The project, with some changes, was rebid in February, still $200,000 more than the $294,000 in grant money available.
Kyle Construction submitted the low bid, Bennett said.
"We're now to the point, we're afraid any other reduction will take away from what we want to have there," Bennett told commissioners.
Bennett noted the P&R board is trying to get local commitment and talking about fundraisers to make up the difference.
"Any contribution at all would be helpful to us," she said. "We've been working on it for many years. We really think it's time."
Bennett asked for a total of $30,000, but said that amount could be split over two fiscal years.
Commissioner Martin Saffer inquired about the likelihood of the P&R board being able to keep up with increased operation and management costs since the actual building project has increased in cost. Bennett said her board had considered that, but felt those costs could be managed with the help of the Pocahontas County Board of Education. The center will be constructed on board property near Marlinton Elementary School.
"We don't think it's out of range of what we think we can do," Bennett said. Other Parks and Rec properties, Marlinton Municipal Park at Stillwell and Widney Park at Frank will not be affected, she continued.
Commissioners disbursed other funds, including:
ﾕ$500 to the West Virginia State Council Vietnam Veterans Mobile Wall
ﾕ$2,000 to the Northern Pocahontas Food Pantry
ﾕ$500 to the North Central Community Action Fishing Derby
The contributions left $21 in the commission's discretionary fund. A new fiscal year begins July 1. Commissioners will consider contributions again August 7.
The commission got updates from the two U. S. Forest Service rangers in Pocahontas County.
Jack Tribble, Bartow District Ranger, said prescribed burns had been used to improve wildlife habitat, and that commercial timber harvests are planned, along with roadwork, recreation improvements and fish habitat improvements.
Tribble's biggest news may have been that funding has been secured to reopen Island Campground. New campsites will be constructed starting in June. But, it could be argued that a proposed trail from Durbin to Cass along the Greenbrier River is also big news for the area.
The Bartow ranger said he keeps up-to-date on the proposed hydro-electric project on Deer Creek, which is still in the pre-application process.
Marlinton Ranger Rhondi Fischer reported on timber management, wildlife management, including finalizing a partnership with the Ruffed Grouse Society and planning future habitat improvements, recreation management and AmeriCorps volunteers.
Marlinton is hosting three AmeriCorps volunteers this year, and Fischer said she hopes to have three more next year. Fischer said the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) will have three more enrollees this summer (two at Bartow and one at Marlinton).
Both rangers said vandalism and illegal dumping on federal lands continues to be a problem. USFS law enforcement is deputized to work with the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department.
In other action, commissioners:
ﾕagreed to purchase, rather than lease, a telephone system for the courthouse.
ﾕawarded the bid for mowing at the East Cass Community Park to Jacob Johnson.
ﾕread a letter from Chief Judge Joseph Pomponio supporting the Supreme Court's decision to close the Durbin Magistrate Office.
ﾕgot an update from Lynmarie Knight about the Water Resources Task Force. Knight said the task force steering committee met with Downstream Strategies, and updated the scope of work the company will be doing. Downstream Strategies has already begun work on Phase II of the Water Resources Management Plan.
ﾕagreed to allow Pocahontas Memorial Hospital to enter into a tax exempt lease with Pendleton Community Bank for some capital improvements at the hospital. Hospital administrator Barbara Lay said this type of financing will save several thousand dollars in interest. Lay also reported that the hospital is in the black financially.
ﾕagreed to participate in a grant for Huntersville Historical Traditions in the amount of $10,000.
ﾕapproved the time extension for the Appalachian Waters Byway Welcome Center.
ﾕagreed to purchase a vehicle for Pocahontas County 9-1-1.
The commission meets again in regular session Tuesday, May 15, at 5 p.m.