Commission approves planner for One Room University
The county commission approved an architect Tuesday for its One Room University initiative, which will bring college level courses within Pocahontas County's borders, allowing students to stay at home to seek higher education.
Pocahontas County High School 1999 graduate Jonathan Smith was the only bidder who fulfilled the mandates of the legal advertisement which appeared in this newspaper. Smith bid $4,500 for Phase I of the project and a fixed fee of $14,100 for Phase II.
WYK Associates, now in charge of renovations and a new elevator at the courthouse, submitted a proposal based on its previous work.
County coordinator Jay Miller said Smith is prepared to begin on Phase I next week and plans for it to conclude in about five weeks.
Miller said his first task will be to render conceptual drawings that show how the existing improved space will be used, and, as the student population grows, how the unimproved space on the second floor of City National Bank will be incorporated into the One Room University's campus.
NRAO has pledged $2,000, Miller said, the remainder of the capital for Phase I will come from his travel budget.
Trails grant approved
Longtime trails enthusiast Gil Willis proposed a $69,000 grant that would help with U.S. Forest Service trails off the Scenic Highway.
Willis said the grant would not cost the county a dime, while bringing in tourism dollars that affect nearly every Pocahontas County resident.
Hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and hunting are the trails' primary uses, Willis said.
The grant comes with a 20 percent match, but Willis said $13,800 could be made up with an in-kind match instead of actual dollars.
Ranger Rhondi Fischer sent a letter of support for the grant via recreation specialist Tim Henry.
"Trails bring people here," Henry said. "We appreciate Gil and Mary's help from the past."
Henry said this grant would be the third for which the Willises have provided assistance.
Last year's grant was for $50,000, Willis said, and this year's will help maintain up to 40 miles of trails.
"It's a really good investment," Willis said.
Commissioners agreed, voting unanimously to be the sponsor for the grant.
Water purchases upset commissioner
Commission president Martin Saffer was upset by bills presented from other elected officials for spring water.
The bill in question was from the prosecuting attorney's office for $71, but other officials have water coolers, as well.
Saffer said the courthouse is "not a spa" and said he wants the coolers out of the courthouse.
While there are other companies that provide bottled water, Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price's spring water came from Pocahontas County Spring Water at Minnehaha Springs, owned by State Senator Walt Helmick.
The 9-1-1 Center, which is in the commission's budget, also purchases bottled water.
Saffer told Emergency Management Services Director Melvin Martin to "get it out of there."
Courthouse renovations costing more
WYK Associates reported that the courthouse roof renovations and elevator project will cost more than previously expected.
To combat the rising costs, commissioners removed the lighting upgrades, which will save the commission more than $50,000.
Martin suggested completing the elevator first because it will be the most expensive and have the most hidden costs.
The total for the courthouse renovations is now more than $96,000.
In other business, commissioners:
ﾕdelayed budget revisions for Sheriff David Jonese until commissioner Reta Griffith returns December 21. Griffith could not attend Tuesday's meeting, one of only a handful she's missed in 12 years.
ﾕapproved a letter of support for the Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Force to hire an administrative assistant. Grant money would come from Safe and Secure Rural Schools funds.
ﾕapproved a letter of support for single member House of Delegates Districts. Saffer said Griffith would draft the letter when she returns.
The commission meets again in regular session December 21.