WILLIAMSON - A changing of the guard took place during the Wednesday meeting of the Mingo County Commission, with Greg “Hootie” Smith now serving as commission president and John Mark Hubbard filling the slot of president pro-tem.
Hubbard addressed the small crowd in attendance and said he wanted to thank everyone for the trust they had in him to lead the commission throughout the last year, and stated that, even with all the difficulties and the black clouds that have fallen upon the county, he felt Mingo was still blessed.
“I will assume the role of president if that is what you guys want,” said Smith. “President Hubbard, you have honorably led our county through the past year and I humbly accept the appointment to this position.”
After Hubbard was named president pro-tem, a motion was made and approved to allow Tina Lockard to continue serving as the county’s purchasing agent (a position formerly held by David Baisden). Lockard is allowed to make purchases up to, but not exceeding, $500 without the signature of a commissioner, but anything over that amount would have to be approved and signed by a second party.
“We decided to leave this plan in place to serve as a safeguard for any purchases made by the county, as well as delivering the message to the public that we are transparent with our business dealings and nothing is going on that we try to hide from the public,” Smith said. “Everything is on the up-and-up, and is of utmost importance and is our highest priority.”
Another substantial change was implemented during the meeting; that being that the commission will not meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. and on each third Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., to accommodate those who have expressed complaints of not being able to attend the meetings because of working daytime hours.
“The first 30 minutes of our meetings is spent going over things such as the minutes from the formal meeting and so forth, so business is not usually discussed until this time passes. That means that the portion of the meeting the public is typically interested in would not begin until 5 p.m. or later, which should allow for more people to arrive in time,” said Smith.
The reason the commissioners decided to not hold the meetings on the third Wednesday was because of worship services being held on that night at the majority of local churches.
The Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce requested financial assistance in the amount of $2,000 to help fund the payroll for Cecil Hatfield, the former director of the chamber, who has been working part-time at the chamber to fill in when needed. The request was approved.
A discussion was held concerning a security lot that would be built on property currently owned by the county that is located next to the Animal Control Facility on Buffalo Mountain. The lot will be utilized to hold vehicles that are seized or impounded by the sheriff’s department, and will save the county money that, in the past, has been spent to rent storage units to store them in.
Mike Carter, the new commissioner who was selected to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of David Baisden, was appointed to the Logan-Mingo Area Mental Health board of directors, effective immediately.
A request was granted from Chief Court Marshal Larry “Yogi” Croaff to hire two bailiffs on a temporary basis for a period of 90 days to fill positions currently open due to health problems with full-time employees. The appointment of the temporary replacements was approved, as was the pay raise and promotion from part-time to full-time for Bailiff Kyle Morrison, whose pay will increase from $8 an hour to $8.50.
Croaff also made a second request to purchase a Patrol Tour System that will allow him to see whether his bailiffs are completing their assigned duties. The chief marshal explained that a series of sensors will be installed throughout the courthouse, municipal building and the former Williamson High School, which are all guarded by the bailiffs, that would have to be scanned by a wand the security personnel would carry. Once the computer chip is taken out of the wand and downloaded, the chief would be able to see what sensors were scanned and at what time, allowing him to verify if job instructions and duties were being followed. The commission agreed with Croaff that it was a great investment, especially at the reasonable price of $220 a set and the request to order was granted.
The commissioners also spoke of the possibility of conducting Town Hall meetings throughout the county, allowing those who live in small communities that are not in close proximity to Williamson to attend. This would give the public an opportunity to express their concerns and voice their opinions without having to attend a commission meeting. More information on this suggestion will be released as it becomes available.
The next commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 4:30 p.m. in the 1st floor courtroom.