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Commissioners Further Discuss County Home

By Staff | Apr 4, 2018

Steve Zechman, owner of Ridge 2 River Realty, spoke with the Tyler County commissioners March 28 to give his opinion about the County Home. Zechman strongly feels the property should remain owned by the county. He stated another land owner in the mix, between the grade school and fair grounds, would eventually complicate matters. He also added he feels the building should be carefully torn down and the land restored, adding that, “the real resource is the land.”

When asked if Zechman saw a use for the property, he responded by saying there could be a multipurpose building placed on the property, but “over time, opportunities can arise and we will regret losing that property.” Commissioner Eric Vincent added since the county owns the property, that creates limits on what the building can be used for. Zechman finished by adding, “Pleasants County tore down their old school building, and now they have a great spot.”

Local resident Chris Hoke asked the commissioners what the plan would be for the property if the County Home were torn down. She expressed she would hate to see the property turned into a gravel parking lot or an extension for campers. She also mentioned with the building being in a flood plain, it would be difficult to build another structure. Commissioner Vincent explained the county could purchase flood insurance if it came to that point, but the plans for the property are still being discussed.

Resident Vicki Keller said she is in favor of saving the building. She feels the community has finally come together on a topic for once, but the historical society hasn’t had a chance to carry out its plans for the building. She would like to see the building preserved and used in a way that can generate funds. Keller feels all of the options haven’t been examined, and she would like the issue added to the ballot to be voted upon.

Commissioner Vincent said the historical society has had years to work on the building, and there would be a resolution made in 2018. He reviewed minutes of a previous meeting when former Commissioner Charles Smith stated the historical society could have “a short period of time” in which to complete its task. Vincent also said no concrete plan for the building has been presented, and it was the responsibility of the historical society to provide that plan. Vincent also said when he attended the historical society meeting, he informed members their vision and the commissioners’ vision of the building do not match. He also mentioned a previous motion had passed allowing the historical society to make renovations to the building, not mothballing.

“I don’t want people to think that we are going in with a wrecking ball and knocking down the building,” stated Vincent. He continued, “It would be torn down piece by piece, and we would reuse whatever is possible.” Vincent continued, “If a single brick can be reused from the building, then the legacy of the building will carry on in another structure.” He also mentioned that his ancestors had worked in the building, and the commissioners are not insensitive to the importance of the building.

Prosecuting Attorney Luke stated the building would have to be used as a governmental agency since it is owned by the county. He added that unlike a general property owner, the commissioners are limited to what the building can be used for – such as jails, courthouses, hospitals, health clinics, etc. The commissioners added there are other buildings which are providing services, and those buildings need to be addressed. Furbee said the courthouse needs major work to be updated. He mentioned the courthouse does not have an elevator, which it is supposed to have, and there have been incidents of individuals falling in the courthouse. Furbee feels the upgrades are needed to protect the county from future lawsuits. He also added, “As a citizen, it is an embarrassment that we have a beautiful historic courthouse that hasn’t been painted in 40 years.” He also mentioned there is a trash can collecting rain water in the Prosecutor’s Office. “It’s embarrassing when people come in to do business with the county and see this,” added Furbee.

Commissioner David Kelly noted, “If we put $6 million into the County Home, then the courthouse project would stop… We can’t do both.”

In other news, Cathy Post of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary requested that the commissioners sponsor a young lady to participate at Girls State this year. The commissioners commented that Girls State is a well represented week of government and a life changing experience. Therefore, they agreed to sponsor three young ladies at the cost of $250 per person.

The commission also passed a motion announcing that March is National Red Cross Month. Sharron Kesselring of the American Red Cross reminded the commissioners that the American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by molding the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Kesselring announced that the American Red Cross responds to an event every eight minutes on average. She also expressed the importance of checking smoke alarm batteries and sensors. Kesselring stated that smoke alarms go bad every ten years and must be replaced to ensure the safety of the home. She added that the American Red Cross distributed more than 2,000 free smoke alarms in the northwestern region of the state in 2017. The Red Cross has also provided over 250 services to military families, enrolled almost 5,000 people in health and safety classes and collected over 7,000 units of blood in 2017. For Tyler County, the American Red Cross had four responses and assisted 10 people, 8 smoke alarms installed, and 14 pints of blood drawn in 2017. Kesselring also mentioned there are only three registered volunteer in Tyler County and so more volunteers would be greatly appreciated. She also mentioned the “Sound the Alarm” program would be held on the last week of April. Anyone interested can volunteer on the American Red Cross website.

Josh Fulks, director of Tyler County 911, informed the commissioners that the future 911 center would be located at the old Sheriff’s Office. The way that the 911 center is setup prevents the facility from performing a major move and so they are moving next door into the old Sheriff’s Office. This will allow the 911 Center to be in a better facility and will provide more room for expansion. He requested the windows be replaced before moving into the building. The commissioners stated they would have to put the project out to bid, but they would start the bidding process.

Commissioner David Kelly reported that the county is still searching for portable air conditioning units for use within the courthouse. He mentioned that the newly installed windows are holding the heat in, and with summer quickly approaching, he wants to make sure that all of the workers in the courthouse are comfortable. He also reported that he and Commissioner Vincent would be interviewing for the maintenance and custodial positions available at the courthouse.

Commissioner Vincent reported that Commissioner John Stender is doing well after his recent kidney replacement.

Vincent also reported there are plans in the making of holding a spring auction to auction off a surplus of old items. Prosecuting Attorney Furbee added the auction will have to be properly advertised for ,and there will need to be a record of what is sold and the price at which each item is sold to present to the state auditor.

Per WV Ethics and Open Meeting Act, agenda items for Tyler County Commission will be posted within two business days prior to meeting. Request for items requiring action should be submitted within that time frame.

The next Tyler County Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 11 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Tyler County Courthouse.