Commission divvies Hotel/Motel Tax funds
The Pocahontas County Commission let the past be its guide Tuesday when it divided Hotel/Motel Tax funds.
Commission president David Fleming made a recommendation that existing percentages stay the same.
The Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau gets 50 percent of the tax.
After that, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital has already received its $75,000, County Emergency Medical Services will receive $75,000 and the County Firefighters Association will get $50,000.
The remaining money will be divided, as it was last year, between Parks and Recreation, 32 percent, Pocahontas County Free Libraries, 34 percent, Pocahontas County Arts Council, six percent, Pocahontas County Historic Landmarks, six percent, and Dramas, Fairs and Festivals, 22 percent.
Most of those entities were represented Tuesday morning.
Parks and Recreation's Lauren Bennett said her organization had completed some key projects, including phase one of lighting the athletic fields at Marlinton Municipal Park at Stillwell. The new concession facility is nearly complete there, as well, she said.
Bennett said Parks and Recreation has also helped renovate toilet facilities at Hillsboro for outdoor activities and received a recreation grant to add canoe launches along the Greenbrier River.
The "big project," a new wellness center to be built in Marlinton is slated to be built by summer 2012, she continued.
Otherwise, she said, she continues to plan programs from basket weaving to Zumba dancing throughout the county.
"You name it, we've tried to try it," Bennett said.
PCFL director Allen Johnson represented libraries, which has a line item in the county budget, as well as the bed tax percentage. In that way, the county commission supports the 85,000 patrons who use the libraries each year, he said.
Johnson said PCFL will likely shut down school services because of its budget concerns. In his written message to commissioners, Johnson pointed out that PCFL is already running $30,000 below what it did in the previous fiscal year.
Linwood Library is a stand-alone facility that should support itself, Johnson said. The libraries have outdoor exploration items, such as binoculars, to loan.
"We appreciate bookworms, but all sorts of people come who don't touch the books," Johnson said.
The Pocahontas County Arts Council was represented by its president, Dr. Arthur Kreft.
Kreft said his council has continued activities at the Little Yellow House in Dunmore and also has continued classes for art students at Green Bank and Pocahontas County High School.
The council awards an art scholarship to a student each year and gives two $500 grants to PCHS seniors.
But the council's big news is the opening of a building in Durbin that will offer local artists' work for sale during the months when the Durbin Greenbrier Valley Railroad is open. The council would like to open a facility in Marlinton, but so far, facility availability and financial obtainability have not coincided.
"Every time there is a vacant store, we pursue it," Kreft said.
Shirley Adams with the Historic Landmarks Commission said her group, in addition to maintaining the Pocahontas County Opera House, is helping fund the restoration of the Huntersville School and rebuilding the Hugh McLaughlin log house which was moved from its original location on Tenth Avenue to Fourth Avenue near the Marlinton Depot property.
As for Dramas, Fairs and Festivals, Shirley Wilkins said her group funds the county's festivals, as well as music programs and band camp.
The board meets quarterly, Wilkins said.
The commission will reserve $30,000 from Hotel/Motel Tax funds for its bricks and mortar fund. The courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A normally straightforward process became an issue when 10 a.m. rolled around and the commission was scheduled to hold an auction on the courthouse steps to decide the future of a 100,000 gallon tank at East Fork Industrial Park.
Fleming said he wanted to reject the bids received because he'd heard from Green Bank residents about the proposed use of the 100,000 gallon tank which Jacob Meck, owner of The Outhouse, a portable toilet business, was prepared to buy and move to the Green Bank Industrial Park.
"I have received a lot of feedback about this project," Fleming said. "The larger Green Bank community wants to have a discussion about how this could be used."
The public, he said, wants to know what Meck intends to do with the tank.
Meck's cause was championed by new commissioner Jamie Walker.
Walker pointed out that the legal advertisement appointing the time and minimum price for the tank had run and that the commission might get bids from others who would put the tank in another location.
"This could be a never-ending process, depending on who comes to buy it," Walker said.
Conversely, the commissioner said, Meck could purchase another tank somewhere, place it on the property at Green Bank once more of the county property there transfers to him, and the county would have the 100,000 gallon tank at East Fork for several more years.
The commission cannot sell or lease property, but will use the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation to complete the transfer of up to nine acres at Green Bank to Meck.
Meck said his project is regulated by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
"The DEP has set the parameters," he said. "I have to follow those guidelines to be approved."
The tank will be placed in a "good location," out of sight and away from houses in Green Bank."
Obtaining the tank has taken a year, Meck said, because the DEP would not allow him to use the tank on location at East Fork. He reminded Fleming that the Green Bank site is zoned for industrial use, meaning no housing and no farming can take place there.
Fleming changed his mind and moved to accept Meck's $500 bid.
Commissioner Martin Saffer did not attend Tuesday's meeting.
The commission met in regular session Tuesday night. That meeting will be updated on our web site, pocahontastimes.com, and in next week's print edition.