Prospects for the digitizing of courthouse records are still undetermined following the July 9 Tyler County Commission meeting. While records ranging from 1998 to present date have already been digitized and posted online by the County Clerk's Office, oil and gas companies, primarily Antero Resources (Antero), have expressed interest in digitizing further records. This proposal initially came about as a way for abstractors to save money, rather than paying line-standers to wait to view records.
However, the first contract submitted by Antero to the commission requested exclusive rights to copies of disks, and the commission denied this request due to ethics rulings which prevent government bodies from "favoring" a company based on donations.
"We can accept donations, but we cannot solicit those donations," said Commissioner Charles "Pork" Smith.
Tyler County Commissioners Eric Vincent, Charles 'Pork' Smith and John Stender examine bids for courthouse cabling and server systems at the July 9 meeting.
Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee discussed the commission's legal role in this matter, citing a section of the Ethics Act.
"A public official or public employee may not knowingly or intentionally use his or her office for his or her own private gain or that of another person," he read.
According to Commission President John Stender, the total cost of digitizing records would be approximately $400,000.
Possible reasons why Antero and other companies have not moved forward were discussed with citizen Chuck Mossor, who is experienced in the leasing process. Although several ideas were listed, the commission's options were determined to be limited by law.
Additionally, the current span of extended courthouse hours paid for by oil companies, ends July 31, but the commission is expecting them to extend that contract for another 90 working days.
The commission accepted two bids: one for cabling from MonValley Technologies at a price of $33,696, as long as they present reasonable start and end dates, and another for a computer server from Global Science Technologies at a price of $9,207.68.
Following a review from the United States Wage and Hour Board (USWHB), the commission is moving to correct issues with payment for hourly employees. Currently, employees turn in their time sheets on Thursday with hours projected for Friday. In order to correct this, time sheets will begin to be turned in on Fridays and payment will be for the two weeks prior when the following two week period has come to an end. In October the county will make this transition, giving employees time to prepare. The commission will be sending out letters to inform employees of the future payment delay.
Another matter corrected under the advisement of the USWHB were back payments to officers caring for the Sheriff's Office police dog.
In projection of how much this overtime may cost the county, the commission asked Lieutenant Dean Pratt of the dog's importance to the safety of deputies. He responded that the dog was not only important to the safety of officers, but also to the safety of the public.
"Every officer, when they go on a bad call, would love to have that dog with them," he said. "Nowadays the bad calls are quite numerous. We wish we could show how valuable this dog can be. It only takes one time for it to go in and take down a guy with a gun, and that dog's going to pay for itself forevermore."
He went on to inform the commission that the dog had been paid for by proceeds recovered from drug busts and that its food was donated from Witschey's.
To keep such matters in check, the commission discussed the possibility of forming a Wage and Hour Board.
Citizen and entrepreneur Roger Garrett, who owns the Dollar General across the street from the courthouse, attended to discuss problems created for his business when those who visit the courthouse park in his lot. He stated that he did not have an issue with abstractors and line-standers and was happy to have them as customers, but he would like a resolution beneficial to everyone. Among possible solutions, the commission determined to contact the Board of Education about using the property at their former offices for parking.
Coon Restoration presented an estimate of $22,940 for fixing and patching to be done on the front of the courthouse building, but the commission is awaiting to see if further work needs to be done before accepting any bids.
Upon receiving a letter suggesting that the Point Pleasant Bridge be named in honor of Tyler County Veteran Jesse Ault, who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan, the commission expressed interest in the idea and stated that they will contact representatives to start the official process.
Budget revisions were made in the Sheriff's Office and the Office of Emergency Management, and exonerations and the fiduciary report were approved.