Designer presents One Room University concept plan
Using minimal cost materials, a "great space" and a few mobile pieces in his concept of a One Room University, designer Jonathan Smith presented the four phases of the project to the Pocahontas County Commission Tuesday.
From the signage at the door of City National Bank, ORU's location, to the full-blown university concept, Smith said each piece of the construction is removable should the student population outgrow the space or the lease with CNB is terminated for some reason.
Phase I begins at the study carrel level and the only structural change to the space will be adding a door. Smith did recommend that the university invest in matching chairs and tables to give the space a cohesive feel for students and the idea that the campus is indeed, real.
The seven carrels for Phase I can serve 20-25 students, Smith said.
During Phase II, the space gets more physical improvements and by Phase III, Smith said, "we really at this point are the One Room University, an entire campus."
By Phase III, students will need more upper level classes, county coordinator Jay Miller said.
"It fits with the flow as we expand, we grow into the concept," he continued.
For one commissioner, it's an idea whose time has come.
Commissioner Martin Saffer, a proponent of offering higher education opportunities locally, said the ORU will be able to offer classes to people here, but will also, in the future, be able to offer the multi-talented people here to the world as they become teachers at the education facility.
"It's so important that we understand we're not just doing something lightly," Saffer said. "We're really going to put a college campus right in our midst."
ORU may be located centrally in one building, but Saffer said the entire town of Marlinton can become the campus by using McClintic Library for reference materials and the Pocahontas County Opera House for performance space.
"This is an experiment to show what can be done in a small community which understands the future is now," Saffer said.
Now that the concept drawings are completed and CNB is ready to begin lease negotiations, more of the project development can move forward.
"A lot of things are moving on parallel tracks," Miller said.
The carpenter shop at New River Community and Technical College can begin to build the study carrels, live tests of an existing course can take place and more.
"It's becoming real," Miller said. "We've had inquiries from other parts of state government. It has the smell of success because people want to be a part of it."
Courthouse drug testing to expand
Commissioners discussed a Saffer-suggested change to include any driver of a motor vehicle who is traveling on county business, effectively placing every courthouse employee who wants to be reimbursed for mileage in the random test pool.
The move came after vigorous discussion during which Saffer asked new commissioner Jamie Walker to become part of the pool. Walker is already in a random pool because he is a bus driver for the Pocahontas County Board of Education.
Saffer also wants the sheriff's auxiliary members to be part of the pool because they drive county vehicles.
Sheriff David Jonese objected to this move for two reasons: he already tests auxiliary members at random and, he said, those contract employees will not be able to leave work to take the test.
The two compromised at the suggestion of Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price, who said auxiliary members whose names were drawn for testing could be tested when they arrive for their next assignment.
Random drug tests take place at the courthouse once a quarter, according to the county's emergency management director Melvin Martin.
Martin said auxiliary members are already in the pool.
Saffer said he wants every elected official to put themselves in the pool to set an example for the rest of the county.
Walker pointed out that even if an elected official tests positive, the county has no recourse.
Commissioners finally decided to put the item on their next agenda so that all elected officials can be in on the discussion.
In other business, commissioners:
ﾕagreed to be the fiscal agent for a trails improvement grant for the Monongahela National Forest. The project will be spearheaded by Gil Willis. While the project's expenses will be reimbursed by the grant, the county has to front the money for the $40,000 grant.
ﾕdiscussed having a public meeting in Green Bank to discuss the use of a 100,000 gallon tank purchased by The Outhouse owner Jacob Meck to be placed at the industrial park there. Meck said he would like to have some of the regulatory agencies present at the meeting so that residents will better understand his operation. Commission president David Fleming said area residents are still concerned about the location and use of the large tank.
ﾕheard from an anonymous person that he had observed four deputies responding to one traffic stop. The person said he had read about overtime budget concerns in the paper and felt compelled to make the commission aware of his observation. Commissioners neither took action nor made comment.
ﾕheard from Director John Simmons about activities with the Pocahontas County Senior Citizens. Simmons said he is working on purchasing a building in Hillsboro so that the community is more in line with the other centers. Simmons said moving Marlinton's center out of the flood plain has saved nearly $17,000 in flood insurance payments. The downtown senior center is for sale, he noted. The senior centers provide meals for people 60 and older. Seniors pay on a sliding scale, Simmons said, but do not have to pay at all. Those under 60 are charged $6 per meal.
ﾕApproved hiring a deputy in the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department. Jonese said the ratio has changed to one deputy per thousand in population and reminded commissioners that during the winter months, Snowshoe Mountain Resort can be the 12th largest city in the state. Jonese also reminded Saffer in particular that he is interested in quelling the drug problem in the county. "You cannot arrest your way into dealing with the problem," Saffer told the sheriff. "There are other things beside a cat-and-mouse game. Prevention. Education. Community awareness." Jonese said he was fulfilling the will of the people who elected him. "I was elected to do a job the people said they wanted done and that's what I'm going to do," he responded.
ﾕclarified the Farmland Protection Board seat of Stella Callison. Callison was recently appointed to represent farmers at large, but is also a Farm Bureau member, a seat already represented. According to the state's farmland protection attorney, her membership poses no problem for the board and other boards around the state have similar composition.
The commission will meet again in regular session February 18 at 5 p.m.