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County Home Security Sought

By Staff | Mar 16, 2016

MIDDLEBOURNE – The Tyler County Commission approved a motion by Commissioner Charles Smith to take steps to secure the county home to prevent more vandalism, intrusion, and possible lawsuits if someone was to get injured at the March 8 meeting.

Smith said he believes they need to find ways to secure the property before someone gets hurt and the county gets sued. He said he doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt regardless of whether they get sued or not. He said he would like to get some no trespassing signs put up and some locks and whatever else needs to be done to keep the general public from running in and out of the building. The motion passed unanimously.

In a related matter to the county home, Chris Hoke from the Tyler County Restoration Committee addressed the commission with an update on the committee’s work to preserve the county home. Hoke said she wanted to let the commission know what they have done, where they are and where they want to go. As far as the fundraising, the group started in February with Tuesday luncheons at the Middlebourne fire hall. She said though there was some pretty bad weather in February, there was a decent turnout. Hoke said they are continuing the luncheons this month and she’s hoping that with the better weather and word of mouth, there will be an even attendance.

Hoke said on the first Tuesday of March, there were 62 people who came out for the luncheon, so she believes the word is getting out there. She said at the last meeting, many other fundraising ideas were presented and discussed that she believes will happen in the years to come. She mentioned the committee was getting a lot of offers from other organizations that when they do their fundraising, they will donate a certain percentage of their money to the cause.

She said small businesses have donated and the restoration committee has a bank account set up. Hoke said people and businesses are supporting the restoration of the county home. She mentioned that the Tyler restoration group’s Facebook site has more than 240 followers.

As far as renovations, Hoke said, the first thing the county home needs is a roof, windows and doors. About two months ago, a roofing company from Wheeling gave the restoration committee an estimate on the roof that was just for slate on the roof, which didn’t include soffit, fascia or gutter work or the wood under it. There is also another group that is interested in coming and giving an estimate. The restoration committee welcomes local and regional contractors to come in as well and give estimates.

Hoke said in April, the restoration committee will submit a grant seeking money to repair and replace the windows and doors. She said as far as the lease, they understand that the fair board has the lease for the building and the surrounding ground.

“We also understand your concern about the liability. We have a lawyer working on seeing that if we go into do volunteer work and use our workers – they would be covered,” she said.

Hoke said if when the fair board’s lease ends, if they would entertain another option as far as the lease. Hoke said as to security, she personally feels that a chain link fence would be ugly, expensive and not very effective because teenagers could climb up over it. She said the restoration committee would like to entertain some other ideas of securing the property like boarding up the windows and doors or maybe use cameras and lights, which would be less expensive. She said if the commission could provide these things, the committee would provide the labor to board up the windows and doors.

Hoke said the restoration committee would like to work with the commission because they realize the liability is critical. As far as the future, she said, they want to keep the commission informed on what they’re doing and certainly give updates on activities such as when they bring in people and get estimates. She said they were kind of concerned that the commission might put a deadline on them, and with a building that has stood for a 100 years it’s going to take a while to restore it. They want to let the commission know they are actively getting bids on it and it’s going to take time.

“We don’t want to be pressured under any deadline,” she said.

Hoke said they had heard from knowledgeable contractors and from people who do historical restoration that the building was built solid.

“It’s well built and it’s certainly well worth restoring. It’s worth putting the money into,” she said.

Hoke said the building is full of potential for use as perhaps an auxiliary building for the campground. She said other uses for the space include a game room, office space, a store or maybe space for people coming into the fair, or for oil and gas workers, a place for small businesses, classrooms for the community college, space for exhibits for the fair board like in the past.

Hoke said during the restoration process, it might be a neat way for apprentices, to give young people skills in carpentry as they work with experienced people. She said it could also be a place for a commercial kitchen for local farmers. She said we are very lacking in this area when it comes to food hubs. A food hub she said is where farmers bring in their raw food to be processed. She also envisions a place on the grounds for gardens. Once it is restored she said it will bring people into the area, bringing in tourists and it would bring in money and create jobs.

“If we are shortsighted and tear it down, we will lose an important part of Tyler County history,” she said.

Hoke told the commission, over the past year she has set in many meetings with Peggy George, an active member of the Tyler community who wants to restore the county home.

“She has such a great love for that county home,” Hoke said. “Peggy has such enthusiasm and positive outlook about restoring it.”

Commissioner Smith told Hoke that she needed to understand that any work that would be done out there would need to go out for bid. Hoke said they understand, but right now they’re just trying to get estimates to find out what the costs will be.

George, a prominent member of the restoration committee, said they had been in contact with the Amish, who are interested in coming to look at it and give an estimate.

Commission President Eric Vincent said ultimately once it goes out for bid the commission would be the one to decide who works on it. He said it’s our property. George said they understand that and they are just trying to supply the money. Hoke and George thanked the commission for allowing them to speak.

Diana Mace presented the commission with the 2016 VOCA grant for approval. The commission voted unanimously to approve the grant application.

Tom Cooper, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, informed the commission there would be a special weather class held at his office March 12. He also said he would like to proceed with the renting of space in the old corning building at the Paden City Industrial Park. He said he had toured the facility and he found it suitable to store equipment. The cost would be $350 per month and there is more than enough room for what he has.

The commission also addressed the WV Division of Justice and Community Services and WV Supreme Court of Appeals-Court Security Grant. County Clerk Teresa Hamilton said they would need to set up a meeting with county officials, Chief Circuit Court Judge David W. Hummel, Judge Robert Hicks, Sheriff Bob Kendle, Prosecutor Luke Furbee and they would also need letters of recommendations from each to get the grants. The commission asked Hamilton send out emails to everyone asking for their letter.

Budget revisions were also approved, as were exonerations from the assessors office. Hamilton gave the clerk’s fiduciary report, which was also approved.