Government, News

Highlights from Wednesday’s County Commission Meeting 9/25/19

By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor

WELCH, WV – The McDowell County Commission met Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 to discuss the following: 

Hiring and Personnel Issues

Four news hires were made at Stevens Correctional Center before the Commission moved into Executive Session to discuss the termination of a current employee at the facility. The Commission voted to approve the termination. 

County Administrator Jennifer Wimmer also requested the replacement of two employees at the Holding Unit, which is currently down by three employees. 

The Commission voted to replace two of the positions, allowing Wimmer to seek out applications and conduct the hiring process. 

Financial Update

Sheriff Martin West called to verify tax collections as of Wednesday’s meeting. 

“Cindy Thompson said she’s collected 1.6 million, the County will get 350k out of it. She also said it goes up to Monday, the 30th so she could possibly collect more,” said West. “The next utility check will be in October too. That was the only update she had.” 

Armory Purchase Resolution

Commission President Cecil Patterson read aloud a purchase resolution for the National Guard Armory for all attendance. 

“Be it resolved that the McDowell County Commission in order to increase facilities for potential administrative offices and provide and improve office facilities, the McDowell County Commission hereby unanimously agrees to enter into a deed agreement to purchase the old West Virginia National Guard Armory facility located at 600 Stewart Street, Welch, West Virginia for a purchase price of $150,000 to be paid in yearly installments over the next 5 years. Be it further resolved that the McDowell County Commission does hereby authorize Cecil D. Patterson, President of the McDowell County Commission, to sign any documents required to facilitate the completion of this purchase,” read Patterson.

Commissioner Brooks motioned to approve and Commissioner Estep seconded. It was approved. 

Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant

The County was approved for a Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant totaling $125,000 with a $25,000 match required from the County. The grant will allow the replacement of old, dangerous windows in the Courthouse, focusing on the worst ones first. 

Wimmer informed the Commission that it will not replace all of them, but they look to apply for funding again next year to finish the project. It was approved. 

Keyless Entry at Superior Gym

County Clerk Don Hicks addressed the Commission next, regarding the damaged lock at Superior Gym. 

“The lock is destroyed,” said Hicks. “We either have to replace it or the members will need a key to get in and out. The ones without keys have to prop the door open, leaving it open for anyone to wander in.”

Hicks explained the issues that creates, mainly concerning teenagers being caught inside the facility in the middle of the night multiple times by multiple different gym members. 

“We need to put a new lock on it,” said Commissioner Michael Brooks. 

“The locks range in price, but we don’t need anything extravagant,” said Hicks. 

“A code,” asked Brooks. 

“Yes, code or card, but I think the code will be the cheapest way,” said Hicks. “And they are still keeping it clean. The committee is watching over people, the equipment is being returned to its place after use.” 

The Commission voted to approve the purchase. 

Hicks also requested help dealing with damaged treadmills at the facility, to which the Commission agreed. 

Retirement Announcement

Home Incarceration Officer Blanche Moore submitted a letter to the Commission announcing her upcoming retirement on October 31st, 2019. 

“Well done Blanche,” said Brooks before the entire room applauded her years of service. 

“We sure hate to see you go. You’ve been here a lot longer than any of us and have seen a lot of people come and go,” said Patterson. 

“Give me a raise and I’ll stay,” said Moore, getting a laugh out of the room. 

“You can always volunteer,” said Don Hicks. 

“We’ve got a couple offers for the home confinement officer,” said Patterson. “We’re going to go through them and see what’s best for the County.”

Bradshaw Lease

After reviewing a lease brought up in the last County Commission meeting, they voted to approve the Town of Bradshaw as the new lease holder. 

“The Commission discussed this and it being right in the Town of Bradshaw, it seems like the Town should be the one looking over the property.” 

Opioid Litigation 

The Commission met with an attorney regarding the opioid litigation process that began nearly five years ago, according to Patterson. 

“Mr. Troy updated us and the Sheriff,” said Patterson. “We met with him five years ago and started the opioid litigation which has now gone nationwide. There are some options out there that involves the counties and the cities.”

Troy is expected to return at a later date with more information regarding the proceedings. 

911 Center Requests

The McDowell County 911 Center requested a former employee be reinstated to a former position, as well as the hiring of two new employees. It was approved. 

The Commission also approved meal expenses while two 911 Center employees receive official Mapping training, which focuses on generating letters for postal service and DMV registration. This spurred a discussion regarding trouble with new 911 addresses across the County.

“I’m sure some people in this room have had this problem,” said Patterson. “I went to 911 to get my address so I can use wi-fi calling on my phone. It doesn’t work.”

‘What they tell me is that when we changed the addresses as a County, residents have to take this new address and register it at the Post Office. Was the community informed of this and if we changed their address, why can’t we register it for them?”

“From what I was told, it was required by Charleston to do that,” said Brandi Richardson, Administrative Assistant at the 911 Center.

“I understand that, but why didn’t we inform the local people or the post office that it changed? We can’t get packages to our homes,” said Patterson.

Richardson said that was one of the purposes of the Mapping Department training, to further utilize the software currently used to generate the new addresses. The additional registry at the Post Office is in place to double check against fraud attempts, according to Richardson. 

The Commission pleaded a case for the elderly residents that won’t go by the 911 Center because they aren’t aware of the changes. 

“They’re never going to know this,” said Patterson. 

“We inconvenienced them, I think we should find some way to accommodate them,” said Brooks. 

The next County Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. at the County Commission Building in Welch. All interested residents are encouraged to attend.