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Commission considers ongoing developments in Tyler County

By Staff | Feb 5, 2014

BEFORE THE MEETING-- Tyler County Commissioners prepare for the second regular meeting of January. From left to right:?Commission Vice President Eric Vincent, Commissioner Charles “Pork”?Smith and Commission President John Stender.

Commission held its second regular meeting of the month on Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. in the Tyler County Courthouse.

During the meeting, commissioners heard from Rosanne Eastham, director of the Tyler County Public Library, and Heather Weekley, director of the Sistersville Public Library. Both librarians were there to ask for the annual $2,000 the county provides each library, as well as a $1,000 increase to that amount if possible.

Eastham started by thanking the commission for supporting the library and its newly constructed addition.

“A library is not just a storage house for books,” she said. “Many people are using the library to take online classes, look for jobs, and broaden their knowledge. We feel that these resources will help the county in the long run by providing a more knowledgeable workforce for employers and bring new businesses into the county. In these hard economic times, libraries provide people with a low cost way for people to learn and entertain themselves.”

She went on to describe the programs and events the library offers, as well as the number of students and residents who participate in them.

“If funds were increased, we could provide more services to the youth of the county and prepare them to take the county into the future,” she said, stating that they would like to start more programs.

Under public comment, resident Chris Hoke spoke highly of the Tyler County Public Library.

“I just wanted to mention I am going to the library to pick up some books after the meeting. I am very impressed with the library here. I use it a lot. Rosanne is excellent.”

She mentioned how the libraries exchange books with each other in order to reach more patrons.

Weekley also thanked the commission for their past support. She shared a message from a former patron.

“A few years ago we had a patron who had just gotten out of prison, and she started coming to the library, first just to check out books and movies, but then she started using the internet to find work,” said Weekley. “Because of her background, it wasn’t easy. She decided to go back to school. She used our computers to apply for college and financial aid.

“In her message she wrote, ‘Heather, thank you for everything you did for me in the library. I received my associate’s degree and found a good job. I also got married. I can’t tell you where I’d be without the library now.'”

Weekley continued to describe the number of people who are helped through library programs and daily operations.

“The library is booming, we’re busier than ever,” she said, noting that state funding may be on the decline.

The commission acknowledged the roles of libraries in the community and will be taking both proposals into consideration for the upcoming county budget.

Commission Vice President Eric Vincent read a resolution to rename the Pleasantview Bridge after Staff Sergeant Jesse A. Ault, a former Tyler County resident who gave his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. The resolution cited Ault’s sacrifice, his time living in Middlebourne, his education and athletic involvement at Tyler Consolidated High School, and his dedication to his friends, family, and community.

“Now therefore, be it hereby resolved that the Tyler County Commission extends its support to any and all efforts to rename the bridge north of Middlebourne on Route 18 near the turnoff to Sellers Road, Tyler County, West Virginia, as the Staff Sergeant Jesse A. Ault Memorial Bridge in memory and recognition of the contribution made to our county and country by this outstanding soldier and leader who lived life to serve and who crossed said bride to and fro going to the school and the land for which he gave his life,” said Vincent.

The commission unanimously approved the resolution, which will be signed and sent to the state for consideration. Delegate Roger Romine and Senator Larry Edgell are reportedly backing this measure.

Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director Tom Cooper was present to discuss Tyler County’s emergency preparedness groups.

“We’ve been doing Search and Rescue (SAR) trainings (in other counties) for Homeland Security. We’ve completed the fourth one and I’m ready to send the invoice in to get paid back for it. They would like for us to do three more at this point.”

Although OEM is not receiving funding for these trainings, other than reimbursements for the costs, he said there are other benefits.

“It’s about good support for our community,” he said. “We’re getting volunteers, which are far more important than money.”

The commission approved the continuation of SAR trainings for Homeland Security, as well as the addition of two Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) members.

Cooper noted the success of the LEPC. He said their monthly meetings have a good turnout, bringing in volunteers from different county organizations.

“You don’t see that anywhere else,” he said.

Under his report, Commission President John Stender indicated possible state measures under Rural Economic Development (RED).

“I was called about a resolution in support of a two to three percent surcharge severance on production in the counties of origin for the (natural) gas,” he said. “There’s a bill up (for vote) in the legislature. Coal got five percent. They’re trying to get us two to three percent. The six counties are from Tyler up to Hancock.”

He said that setting back such funding could benefit the county years from now.

“We need to be given back something for it,” said Commissioner Vincent.

“Hopefully this goes through,” added Commissioner Stender of the proposed severance. “If that would happen, we would be in good shape.”

In courthouse developments, the commission approved an agreement with Frontier Communications to do wiring for the new phone system in the courthouse.

“We have a membership certificate now for the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) and it looks like all of our paperwork is in step,” said Commissioner Vincent.

Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee recently advised the commission on joining the NJPA, a public service agency that offers equipment at discounted prices to government agencies. Once the county has obtained the necessary equipment for wiring, Frontier Communications can complete the installation process.

The commission discussed an across the board decrease in state funding, as well as a loss of funding to local organizations.

Republic and Democrat Executive Committees have appointed their Ballot Commissioners for the term of two years: Barbara Griffith for Republican, and James Menges for Democrat. The commission approved these appointments.

Sheriff Kendle presented quotes for a copy machine he would like to purchase for the tax office, and the commission approved him to purchase one at the price of $1,995 with a service agreement of $337.50.

Budget revisions included: a $7,500 reimbursement for the Joseph Mills Community Center Grant, for which the county served as the fiscal agent; a $250 donation from Union Bank to OEM; and two flood plain permits under OEM. These revisions were approved pursuant to the signature of the auditor.

Other approved items included: the minutes of the Jan. 14 meeting, the county clerk’s fiduciary report, the payment of county bills, and renewal with the W.Va. Counties Risk Pool.

The next commission meeting will be held Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. in the Tyler County Courthouse.