By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - Funding requests were at the top of the agenda during the Wednesday meeting of the Mingo County Commission, with area Little League teams, along with oher agencies, asking for assistance.
The first item on the agenda was for the commission to share information about the new official Mingo County website that will provide information about various offices to the citizens of the county, including their personal and property taxes. The website address is mingocountywv.com. It was created by Richard Duncan, an instructor at Mingo Central High School.
American Electric Power representative Cindy Wiseman provided information on rate filings, explaining that AEP had asked for no fuel cost increases in the last three years and has now requested a 4 percent increase in customer bills that will go into effect in July, pending approval. She also said that tree trimming of all circuits and right-of-ways will be completed on a four-year cycle, and said that policy is expected to increase the reliability of the electric service.
A donation of $1,000 was granted by the commission to both the Matewan and Delbarton little leagues, which have more than 100 children on each league signed up to play ball. No child is turned away who wants to participate if they cannot pay the fee or for their uniforms, shoes, etc. The funding amount has decreased from $1,500 to $1,000 due to what the commission members say is the drop in coal severance taxes the county now receives, as opposed to past years.
“Our county commission has always fully supported the recreation of our youth,” said Mingo County Commission President Greg “Hootie” Smith. “This is a trend we want to continue.”
Local Attorney Robert Carlton, who is also a candidate for circuit judge on the May primary ballot, had contacted the commission with his objection to moving the voting precinct in Williamson city limits that had been located inside Goodman Manor in past years, and has now been moved to the former Williamson High School cafeteria, which is only a couple of blocks from the housing complex.
Smith asked that a letter be drafted to Carlton explaining that the county cannot have a precinct in a location where it is not invited to be, and explained that the commission had received a letter from Williamson Housing Authority Executive Director Pauline Sturgill, who said they no longer wanted the polling place to be located within their facility. This request created the need for another location, and the former school cafeteria was proposed and approved.
Mark Whitt, local director of the Mingo County West Virginia University 4-H Extension Office, addressed the commission with a funding request for the Energy Express program that feeds children during the summer months as well as provides education assistance.
According to Whitt, the program will operate six feeding sites within the county that will include two in Gilbert, and one each in the communities of Delbarton, Dingess, Williamson, Matewan and Kermit. The number of Energy Express programs will drop from six to five, due to a decrease in federal and state funding.
Whitt also spoke about the ATV safety program that was originated in Mingo County and is now taught in various locations across the state. In the 13 years the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System has been operational, four deaths have occurred.
A total of 19 ATV deaths occurred in the state in 2013, and Whitt used these numbers to support the importance of proper training. A funding request of $2,000 was tentatively approved to purchase an ATV that is suggested for riders in grade school. Whitt explained that the proper size is required during the instructional process.
Amy Martin of the West Virginia Health and Human Resources office approached the commission with a request to name Sister Janet Petersworth, formerly with ABLE Families and Christian Help in Kermit, as the “2014 Mingo County Champion for Children.” The award also will include April 8 being designated as “Sister Janet Petersworth Day.” The request was approved, and all three commissioners commented on what a fine job the recipient had done in the county, assisting all those in need to the best of her ability.
A request from the Williamson Police Department for a police cruiser owned by the county that had been taken out of service was approved, as Smith commented that the city wanted to use it for parts to assist in repairing a cruiser they have that has been wrecked.
A motion was made and approved to set aside the amount of $38,000 to be used toward replacing the roof on the Williamson Field House, that will require matching funds from the city of Williamson.
A request from Interim Mingo County 911 Director Loraine Vance to hire a part-time dispatcher (Stephen Marcum) at the rate of $8 per hour was approved. Another personnel request from Goolsby to hire a part-time paramedic (Tas Giadella) for the county-owned ambulance also was approved.
The next regular meeting of the commission is scheduled for April 15 at 4:30 p.m.