By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON - The Mingo County Commission met for its first regularly scheduled meeting of the month on Wednesday. Several matters were discussed at the meeting, which lasted approximately two hours.
On the agenda was the certification of the May 13 primary election results, which was approved by the commission.
Notable from the meeting was the return of Rebecca Keatley on behalf of the Matewan National Junior Honor Society. Keatley had been denied financial assistance for the Honor Society’s upcoming King’s Island field trip at the last commission meeting due to lack of 501(c)(3) status.
Keatley made the commission aware that she did had the document in her possession, but it was currently located at Matewan Middle School, and that school had been called off for the day.
She stressed the importance of providing her pupils with this field trip, saying, “They (the kids) push you to be better and you push them to be better. They deserve rewards for the hard work they put in. I have worked diligently for these kids.”
She continued, “We have been raising money. We have kids who can’t afford to go to King’s Island.”
The commission did not give the Honor Society the full $1,500 that was requested, but did move to give them $1,000 to aid in their trip.
According to Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith, 80 cents of every tax dollar goes to the Board of Education, while 17 cents of every tax dollar goes to the commission, and the remaining 3 cents is divided among municipalities.
Smith said, “If we have an $8 million budget on 17 cents, what kind of budget of budget do they school board have on 80 cents?”
Smith went on to say, in regard to financial support for honors students, “There are children who should be awarded and encouraged.”
Also worth noting was the attendance of Executive Director Beth Cook and Medina Mahon, on behalf of the Logan County Child Advocacy Center, in regard to needed office space in the Mingo County area.
The Logan Child Advocacy Center’s mission is to “to provide a child-friendly safe location for the Multidisciplinary Team approach in the investigation of child abuse in Logan and Mingo counties,” according to their website.
The organization has been working with children in Mingo County for years, but as of right now those children must be transported to Logan County.
More children from Mingo County than Logan County have been sent to the Logan center over the past fiscal year. A location in Mingo County would make this process easier on everyone involved, but most importantly it would be better for the children.
The office space has been the subject of talks for the past six months. Cook made it clear to the commission that “the children need to feel secure within our space” in regard to one suggested building that failed to meet Fire Marshal’s approval.
This same space is the one being considered, providing that some structural issues can be corrected and some privacy concerns addressed. Another space that had been considered may be used for either the consolidation of Delbarton Christian School and Williamson Christian School or a Mingo County Museum with a simulator.
The space chosen will need to be private, secure, and provide the children with a sense of safety. The commission met with Cook after their meeting, and stressed that they are indeed working to choose a suitable location that will meet the Advocacy Center’s needs.
Cook is hopeful that the Mingo center will be decided upon by the end of June. She is more than ready to begin working on making the new space suitable for children, for the benefit of Mingo County.
The commission moved to accept the Williamson Wildwood Garden Club’s request for $1,000 to put toward flowers, pots and other equipment needed for the beautification of the courthouse grounds. The commission said that the Garden Club’s efforts in keeping the area beautiful and well maintained have worked for several years, which prompted their decision to continue such efforts.
Also approved was a request for financial backing for a summer employee to assist the Assessor’s Office. The request was for eight weeks during the summer, with a pay rate of $8 an hour. This request was approved as well.
A $2,500 contribution was approved for the town of Matewan for the upcoming Hatfield/McCoy Reunion. The commission let it be known that money is always budgeted for each area’s big festivities, to ensure these events can take place for everyone to enjoy.
It was announced that a meeting will be set up to accept the donation of Sprigg and Merrimac parks from Alpha Coal.
Alpha has been considering the donation of these parks ever since a 9-year-old child was injured when a swing she was playing on broke in May. The child sustained several injuries, including ones to her back and spine.
Regarding the Mingo County Abandoned Building/Dilapidated Structure Ordinance, it was decided that a qualified county employee would be chosen to serve on the enforcement agency, and the filling of this position would be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
The commission moved to extend the employment of 10-12 men working to keep the highways, cemeteries, and other areas clean with garbage pick-up, grass-cutting, and general labor to keep everything orderly. The extension is for 90 days, through the summer, at a pay rate of $8 an hour.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for June 17, at 9 a.m.