By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, WV – Wednesday’s meeting began with the second and final hearing for the Community Development Block Grant application seeking to expand broadband services in the Jolo area.
“We’re looking at extending broadband and fiber, at least 25MB per second download, 3MB upload maybe more, along Turkey Branch Road and Groundhog Branch Road,” said Jeff Raines of Region 1 Planning and Development Council. “We’re looking at about 46 households combined, estimating that at about 150.”
The estimated project cost in the grant application is $230,474 and covers one hundred percent of the project.
“CDBG does these grants and they’re about the only ones that don’t have a match requirement,” said Raines. “There’s no harm in it. We can apply for it and if we get it, that’s great, but if not, we’re not out anything.”
Part of the application process requires public meetings, with Wednesday’s meeting serving as the second and final public hearing.
“They’ve approved the resolution to submit it and signed all the paperwork. We’ll have it submitted by September 30th,” said Raines. “Normally it takes them awhile before we hear anything back. If it’s anything like last year, it should be next Spring, usually around April or May.”
Raines was hopeful due to the success of the previous application for the Bull Creek Isaban Broadband Project that is now underway.
Three new hires were approved for Stevens Correctional Center and the County saw a formerly laid off employee return after another employee quit.
BRADSHAW LEASE CONFLICT
A County-owned property in Bradshaw created some conflict as the Town of Bradshaw and a resident both sought to lease the property.
Alvin Coleman approached the Commission on behalf of Bradshaw Mayor Brian Harrison regarding the Town acquiring the lease at the intersection in Bradshaw.
“I spoke with Brian earlier and he wants it for the Town itself, to use for their festivals and other town events,” said County Clerk Don Hicks.
Bradshaw resident Bill Click also had his eyes on the property, hoping to open a business in the location.
“I get out here and hustle and I do need that lot,” said Click. “I wanted to put a little building on it and open a business so I don’t have to run the roads to make something for my family.”
Click criticized the Town for not sending an employee or official of the Town to request the lease before pleading his own case.
“I’m 66 years old. I hurt and I’m looking at two more surgeries. I need a place to sit down,” said Click.
It was revealed that the property in question belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers and cannot be used for permanent structures.
“That’s the reason I was going to get a rent to own building,” said Click.
“I don’t know if the law will let you put a business on that type of property,” said Patterson.
“Those rent-to-own buildings that can be moved out can be,” said Click.
“We’ll table this until the next Commission meeting,” said Patterson. “Let us look into the laws before we make any decisions.”
Several years ago, the County entered into a lease purchase agreement with State Equipment for a bulldozer used in County operations.
“We need it for excavating and keeping up the County landfill,” said Patterson. “You always hear us say we don’t have any money, but this is not general account money. This would come from the Coal Severance Reallocation Fund.”
The Commission found themselves at a point where returning the machine would be a loss of $100,000 unless they purchased it.
“It’s actually something we need and we only had one bid come in,” said Patterson. “It was $65,800.”
The Commission voted to purchase the dozer.
The next County Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. in the Commission Conference Room. All interested citizens are encouraged to attend.