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Commission Welcomes Ben Placer

October 31, 2018
BY TELINA FRYE - STAFF WRITER (TFRYE@WETZELCHRONICLE.COM) , Wetzel Chronicle

The Wetzel County Commission recently welcomed new Wetzel County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ben Placer to the county. Deputy Placer has spent 16 1/2 years in law enforcement. He began his career in Virginia in 1998; he then moved to West Virginia and was Chief of Police in Sistersville for three years.

Placer left law enforcement and went to Momentive; however, he noted, he missed law enforcement and decided to return to the field.

In other matters, the commission agreed to pay Casey Chapman for legal services the firm performed in regard to Wetzel County Hospital's recent management agreement with WVU Medicine. This affected the commission, because the commission owns the hospital building and its grounds. The matter dealt primarily with internal management, but the commission was required to represent. The total bill came to $7,754.74.

Article Photos

Photo by Telina Frye
Pictured, in back, are Wetzel County Commission President Larry Lemon, Commission Vice-President Bob Gorby, and Commissioner Lisa Heasley. Front row are Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz and Deputy Ben Placer.

The next issue was a request for funding for a new vehicle from the New Martinsville Police Department. The commission agreed to offer a used vehicle, a Ford Explorer from the sheriff's office.

In another matter, the commission agreed to accept and pay a price quote to repair an air intake unit. This came from Casto Technical Services in the amount of $6,852. This charge was due to the fact the warranty does not apply since the damages were due to a storm and electrical surge. It was understood the cost had been filed with insurance; however, the commission was uncertain if insurance would pay.

In another matter, the commission granted a request for a donation to extend water service to three residences on Shupbach Ridge. The commission agreed to donate $175,000. The amount of $25,000, previously donated by the commission to the PSD for the Mason Booster Station slip, will be routed toward this project, so the commission also gave permission to use that money for this project if needed.

In another matter, Wetzel County Clerk Carol Haught brought the commission up-to-date on what has happened since the commission approved the HAVA Grant application for a new voting system. The official approval was received, and the commission signed a check. The approval from the grant was for 50 percent of the cost of the total cost for the new voting system, $226,341.33. The commission approved $226,341.34 for the new voting machines, to be taken out of the coal severence funds.

In another matter, Lonnie Blake, from the Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department, addressed the commission regarding a request for funding. He stated his department is researching the purchase of an off-the-road emergency vehicle. It is a fire rescue side-by side that has many water pumps and a rescue basket for an ambulance. Blake is hoping the purchase can be used in the event of an ATV accident or a pipeline accident. He stated this may not be something that is used often, but is needed in the area.

Blake said the purchase would cost around $32,000 at the most. The commission advised it was sending $18,000 to each fire department. Blake said he was aware of that, and the VFD planned to use those funds for new bunker gear, due to Silver Hill VFD's gear being outdated. He said the estimated cost for bunker gear is around $3,700 per person, and there are 10 individuals to outfit. The commission approved the donation to purchase an off-the-road vehicle, and the amount is to be determined when the fire department submits the invoice.

In another matter, Beth Sigley, principal of Hundred High School, met with the commission regarding a grant application for Project Epic, through the WV Department of Education. She requested the commission's support. The competition will be completed over the next two school years and will require partnering with local businesses and other community organizations.

There are other items included in the grant that HHS is wanting to work on. The history classes have been exploring the history of Hundred and the founder, Henry Church. They came up with the idea to create a replica cottage of Henry and Hannah Church that they would like to put on town property where the old motel used to be by the post office. The inside of it would be a visitors bureau/museum.

The biggest project HHS is working on is an idea of Sam Snyder's, who was principal of HHS around 2006-2007. Snyder had a vision of an amphitheater. The plan is to scale the building from its original 400-seat plan to a 150-seat plan. Wetzel County Schools owns a piece of land that is not consistently being used. The property is not in the flood plane. Someone who owns an construction company has agreed to the excavating. The kids would be designing the benches for the amphitheater and a stage that would be ground level. The hope for that is to eventually host entertainment once a month to draw people into the community. The grant is a $50,000. HHS has roughly $10,000 of contributions in-house to match some of it.

HHS students are also working on creating forms for concrete planters to line Main Street. The Hundred Public Library has a seed library and has agreed to donate seeds for the planters.

Principal Sigley requested a signature from the commission stating it supports the plans. She stated the group of young gentlemen working on the plans is a determined group. They have stated if they don't get the grant, even if it takes longer, they still want to move forward with the plans. Mrs. Sigley said she thinks it is great they have the excitement and motivation. Currently, the group can ask for $50,000, but is only asking for $42,000. The commission made and passed a motion to endorse the Hundred High School Epic Grant application.

In another matter, the commission approved a request by Bags of Bounty for a $10,000 donation to its program. Also, a Memorandum of Understanding for the Regional Broadband Initiative/HUD Community Block Grant was approved. A motion was made and passed to increase the rent on the tenant at the War Memorial Building, due to rising costs for maintenance.

In regards to the Regional Broadband Initiative/HUD Community Block Grant, the memorandum noted that the state had made funding opportunity available for broadband planning through the FY 2018 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Broadband Development Program. Funds up to $125,000 are available for a regional broadband planning, and Belomar Regional Council is "in the process of preparing a regional broadband feasibility plan application for the Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel Counties."

The commission also discussed a proposal for a policy on the 4-H Cabin rental requests from private outside groups. The commission is anticipating more use of the cabins, so the commission felt an interim cabin rental policy was needed. Some specifics are needed, such as the need for the group staying at the cabins to furnish their own linens and towels. Also, the cost of $100 per night for up to 10 people, as well as a specific amount for a damage deposit. A motion was made and passed to approve the commission's interim policy on cabin rentals.

In another matter, Pine Grove Recorder Rhonda Spencer gave the commission an update on the town's fire hydrant project. She stated seven of the eight fire hydrants have been installed. There is testing required once the fire hydrants are installed; the testing has already been completed for the hydrants that have already been installed.

Spencer had also previously said she would give the commission an update on the revenue that was on the police department. However, since then a municipal court judge, Brittany Howell, was hired, and she takes care of all of that information. Spencer has not been given any information to e-mail to the commission.

As far as the court position goes, it was anticipated once the police department was re-established. An individual wanted to argue a ticket she was given. It was noted Howell is paid salary for court dates, and her regular salary for working is $9 an hour.

Additionally, Spencer requested funding for two sewer pumps; it was noted the town would purchase a raw sewage pump for the water plant. Spencer explained one of the current sewage pumps has a broken breaker box and is being operated by generator.

The pumps are not related to the Phase Three money the town has received for its ongoing sewer system project. Spencer stated the town has an imminent council meeting, in which an ordinance would be read for a sewer rate increase. The town is currently awaiting word on when Phase Three would start. Spencer said she is unaware if the allowed seven percent rate increase would be enough. However, the ordinance states that, within the next five years, the rate would be raised seven percent every year, which would bring what is needed. It is a possibility that, by that time, the rate may need to be raised again.

Spencer explained each needed pump costs $10,000. The town is requesting the commission buy two, for a total of $20,000. Both would be replacing two other pumps that they currently have.

The commission agreed to pay for the sewer pump that is currently connected to the generator in the amount of $10,000, with the bill coming directly to the commission's office.

 
 
 

 

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