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Commission discusses courtroom upgrades

By Staff | Jul 27, 2011

Courthouse improvements and the grant funding necessary to make the needed upgrades came under discussion in Tuesday’s session of Tyler County Commission.

Tim Meeks spoke to commissioners concerning the application for grant funding for projects such as repairs to the ceiling in the circuit courtroom, replacement of the witness stand, creating rooms for sequestering witnesses, front and rear door replacement at the courthouse, purchase/installation of Kevlar panels behind the judge’s bench, and an upgraded security camera system. The application for the grant must be in by October. The maximum funding allotment is up to $120,000 – $90,000 in grant funds, with a 20 per cent match from the commission.

Commission discussed the merits of projects and prioritized each suggestion according to need. “We want to be sure to apply for those things that are safety oriented,” said Commission President Charles “Pork” Smith. The grant application process is underway.

Smith also noted the West Virginia Supreme Court had committed to funding the purchase and installation of a new sound system in the circuit courtroom. The sound system upgrade will be underway in the near future.

Commission then approved a bid to install new carpet in the circuit courtroom, circuit clerk’s office, and surrounding areas. Cost of the project is $4,700, with 50 per cent down, and 50 per cent due on completion. Payment will be made from the courthouse facility funds.

Rosemary Guida, Executive Director of the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board, addressed commission and provided a summary report of programs currently in progress, as well as upcoming opportunities.

Ms. Guida told commissioners the Summer Youth Program in Tyler County, which provided employment to 20 young Tyler Countians, had gone well.

“The kids did a really good job at all four sites this summer,” she said. “A total of 160 West Virginia youth started the program the beginning of this summer, and 138 completed it.”

The four work site locations in Tyler County included Tyler Consolidated Schools, Friendly Public Service District, Sistersville General Hospital, and the City of Paden City. Work performed included maintenance, groundskeeping, laborer, and clerical duties.

Two new program opportunities were also presented by Guida. The “Training 4 Our Future” program targets disabled youth ages 14-24 in the Northern Panhandle region (Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler). The 11 week instructional course focuses on work readiness skills, with the added bonus of a “Build It, Keep It, Share It” activity whereupon participants will learn keyboarding, internet navigation, hardware and software installation, troubleshooting, and care and maintenance of equipment. Each participating youth who successfully completes the required training will receive a new personal laptop computer.

The second program introduced by NPWIB, the “Work Now” program, offers area employers the opportunity to serve 300 TANF eligible recipients, 100 of them targeted for job placement.

The program is a “hire first/train later” reimbursement program which allows for private-for-profit, private non-profit or public/business/organization/agencies to hire a participant for a 12 month period, or until June 30, 2012, whichever comes first. Participating employers receive 100 per cent reimbursement of gross wages paid to the employee. Reimbursement will be provided on a monthly basis.

“As we all are aware,” said Ms. Guida, “funding issues across the board have been a major topic of concern, but West Virginia was fortunate to be one of only nine states which actually received a funding increase from the government.”

Tom Cooper, Director for Tyler County Office of Emergency Management , requested commission’s signature on an agreement with REPS – Recruitment Engineering Products and Services, Inc. – which provides for Phase 3 of a vulnerability study of Tyler County’s critical infrastructure.

This study is the blueprint for a preparedness plan for Tyler County to implement continuity of government following a catastrophic event.

“This may sound far-fetched,” said President Smith, “but if something were to happen in our nation’s capital, the effect could spread to our area as well.”

“Look what happened when two planes flew into the (World Trade Center) towers,” remarked Sheriff Earl P. “Bob” Kendle, Jr. “It could happen again, anywhere.”

Commissioners agreed to sign the Phase 3 agreement with REPS.

Cooper also discussed the issue of volunteer workers which are no longer covered by Brick Street’s Workers Compensation plan. Another coverage plan was suggested by Cooper which will cover the volunteer workers.

“The county is vulnerable without the coverage,” Cooper said. “We rely on these volunteer workers and we need to maintain coverage for them.”

Commission agreed to purchase a policy for the uninsured volunteer workers.

Sheriff Bob Kendle requested commission consider setting up a P-Card account for the sole use of the Tyler County Sheriff’s office.

“It would be our responsibility to track expenses, which would decrease some of the work load for Amy (Glover),” said Kendle.

“It is a large amount of work,” agreed Glover.

Commissioner John Stender said he “had no problem with it” providing it was feasible and in compliance with state guidelines. Commissioners agreed to take the request under advisement and give Kendle an answer at their next meeting.

Sheriff Kendle noted the building construction for the department’s recently required boat would be completed in the coming week. Currently the rescue boat is being outfitted with TCSO decals prior to its use on the Ohio River. Sheriff Kendle informed commissioners all deputies will be required to complete a boating safety course before being permitted on duty aboard the craft.

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney requested the purchase of a copier to replace an eight year old machine that had ceased to function. An estimate was provided to commission for the purchase of a Xerox printer – $7,000 for a black and white printer, or $9,500 for a color printer. Xerox would also provide toner for the printer as well as services and supplies, and an allowance of 35,000 copies per year free, with each additional copy priced at 1 – a service contract which is less expensive than the prior agreement.

“That’s a good deal,” said President Smith. “Does the prosecutor need a color printer?”

Sheriff Kendle pointed out much of the evidence in cases handled by the Prosecutor’s Office required color photos. “There can be six or seven pages of color photo evidence per case,” he explained. “We use a lot of color images.”

Commissioners approved the purchase of a new printer, to be selected by the Prosecutor’s Office, and appointed Smith to validate the purchase/contract.

Minutes, exonerations, and the clerk’s fiduciary report were all approved by commission. Also approved was an $85.80 bill received resulting from a mental health hearing of a Tyler County resident, and payment of a one-quarter installment for Alma E-Squad insurance coverage, approximately $1,225.

Placed on the agenda for the next commission meeting were Eric Peters and a representative from Suddenlink Communications. Sheriff Kendle then requested and was granted a brief executive session with commissioners.

The next meeting of the Tyler County Commission will be held Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the courthouse.

Those in attendance at commission meeting included County Commissioner Eric Vincent, Commissioner John Stender and Charles “Pork” Smith, County Assessor Jack Hayes, Sheriff Kendle, Tom Cooper, Rosemary Guida, Tim Meeks, Mike Griffin, County Clerk Teresa Hamilton, Deputy Clerk Amy Glover, and Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee.