By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - Various topics were open for discussion during the last meeting of the Mingo County Commission for the month of March, as several groups and organizations addressed upcoming events, while others expressed the need for financial support from the county.
Amy Martin of the Williamson office of the state Department of Health and Human Resources was present for the meeting and asked that the month of April be proclaimed as Child Abuse Awareness Month. Martin asked that county officials also participate in the annual “Williamson Walk for Children” that is scheduled for noon April 9. The parade will begin in the parking lot of the DHHR building and will end at the courthouse, where children will plant a “pinwheel garden” in memory of the victims of child abuse. A flag will also be raised during the ceremony that will fly throughout the month, serving as a reminder of the seriousness of child abuse in the area.
Also scheduled for April will be the raising of the Autism Awareness flag that is scheduled for April 1, at 9:30 a.m.
Ruben Mitchell spoke to the commission, representing the “Skirmish on the River” Civil War Re-enactment that will take place in Gilbert on April 25-27. The commission agreed to once again assist with funding necessary for the performance. Mitchell also brought up the garbage problem in the Gilbert Creek area, and asked if he could get some assistance in planning a cleanup day before time for the re-enactment. The commission told Mitchell that they were hoping to utilize the Judge’s Work Program for such things, and said they would be speaking with Senior Status Judge John Cummings and the Home Confinement and Day Report officials about their plan.
Paul Price, event organizer for the “Rally in the Valley” and Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick attended the meeting to iron out some traffic-related issues with the commission for the May 1-4 event that will be held downtown.
Much work and planning has gone into the third annual motorcycle event that is drawing vendors from as far away as Las Vegas and entertainment groups from all over the U.S., including Los Angeles. Thousands of bikers from all walks of life have committed to attend and will be a shot in the arm to a declining local economy.
The biggest concern expressed by the commission was public access to the courthouse Thursday through Saturday for the purpose of early voting. Since the rally has now expanded from a two-day event to four, vendors will be arriving in town Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to set up and prepare their items for sale.
McCormick produced a map that he and Price, as well as law enforcement officials, had strategically planned, that outlined a visible through lane that would be open to the public down Second Avenue during the event. McCormick assured the commissioners that he was well aware of the early voting situation as well as the event being held during the busiest time of the month for the downtown area, displaying the map so they could see for themselves the issue had been properly addressed.
The mayor asked that the commission arrange for county workers to park in paid lots on Thursday and Friday while the event was taking place, saying that the city would pick up the tab for the meter charge. This would free up the county parking lot on Court Street that could easily accommodate those conducting business inside the courthouse or taking advantage of the opportunity to cast their vote prior to the primary election. Commission President Greg “Hootie” Smith said he would speak with county employees about the situation and would discuss this further with McCormick during a special commission meeting.
The Mingo County Public Service District discussed plans to break ground on the Naugatuck Water Project on April 2 at 1:30 p.m. The project, which will accommodate residents from Naugatuck to East Kermit, should be completed in about six months.
On Monday, the commission will conduct a special meeting at 9 a.m. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on April 2 at 9 a.m. To be placed on the agenda to speak, contact Tina Abbott at 304-235-0380.