WILLIAMSON - On Wednesday morning, the Mingo County Commission met for their second regularly scheduled meeting for the month of October, and quickly addressed matters from a surprisingly short agenda.
Paul Pinson, representing the Tug Valley Arts Council, was the first person to request funding assistance he deemed as necessary to enable the group to continue bringing talented entertainers into the county. This evening at 7 p.m., one of those performances will take place at the Rose G. Smith Theatre located beside of the former Williamson High School, when “Elvis Impersonator Donny Edwards” takes the stage. Pinson requested a sponsorship for the civic group from the commission in the amount of $2,000, which was granted.
Reuben Mitchell, representing the organizers and volunteers who perform the ‘Skirmish on the River” Civil War Reenactment in the Town of Gilbert also appeared to ask for financial assistance, speaking of how the cast has grown in size within the last two years and of the large crowds who have attended the 2013 shows. Mitchell and several other volunteers also perform a scaled-down version of the play for the Town of Matewan, during one of their annual festivities.
Mitchell’s group was awarded $2,000 and were thanked for their dedication to this cause, as well as the historical value the reenactment brings to the county.
A written request was read from Williamson Police Chief Barry Blair and Sgt. John Hall, who asked for funding to help offset the price of a used, 2008 police cruiser with 31,000 miles on it, that his department is needing to purchase. The chief explained that two of their official vehicles had been totaled in accidents and blue-booked for a low amount, making it difficult to raise enough money to meet the price tag of $12,000, plus a $450 delivery charge, for a cruiser that is for sale from an agency in Orlando, Florida,who has furnished used cruisers to the police agency in the past. A motion was made and seconded to provide assistance to the Williamson department in the amount of $4,000.
A budget revision for the sheriff’s department was approved to allow funding to be in place for the addition of employee C.J. Sammons as a process server, as well as Dave Stratton, who was reclassified from an administrative assistant to a process server.
Arthur Farra, an eleven year veteran with the Sheriff’s Department who was terminated from his position by former Sheriff Eugene Crum, will be reinstated in his former Sgt. rank and will be awarded back pay as well as the cost for his attorney that he hired during the fight to regain his job. Farra’s case had been appealed following the civil service board’s ruling to uphold the firing.
The remainder of the items on the agenda were tabled until the next meeting, due to no representatives being present to voice their requests.
The commission asked to remind the public they are currently accepting resumes that must be accompanied by a mission statement from those people interested in applying for the positions of commissioner and county prosecutor.
To qualify for commissioner, you must be of the same political party as former commissioner David Baisden (Democrat), and you cannot reside in either of the districts as the two remaining commissioners, those being Tug Hardee and Williamson. There has been some confusion surrounding this rule, and anyone who has any questions or needs clarification is asked to call the commission office at 304-235-0380 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
In regards to applying for prosecutor, you must also be of the Democratic party and a WV licensed attorney in good standing with the Bar Association. There is more leniency with the residency requirements for this position, however, with rules stating that those who meet the criteria to apply who live outside of the county do qualify, as long as they they are WV residents. This position is the only elected office that carries these rules. The resumes of those wishing to apply for prosecutor must also contain a mission statement.
Resumes will be excepted for both positions until the close of business on November 1 through the commission office, and will be followed by an interview process with the remaining commissioners. A decision on who will be appointed will be announced at the Nov. 20 meeting. Thus far, three candidates have expressed their interest in becoming the next commissioner, those being Benjamin Cisco, Matthew Ramey and former sheriff and 2012 candidate for commissioner, Lonnie Hannah. No information had yet been released regarding the prosecutor’s position.
During the public portion of the commission meeting, Mike Baisden, a Williamson resident, requested to speak and asked the commission if he would be limited to only two minutes as he had been in a previous meeting, while others, according to the speaker, were allotted more time to express their opinions.
“Go ahead with whatever you wish to say Mr. Baisden,” said Commissioner Smith.
“I want to know if either you or Commissioner Hubbard is currently under investigation by the federal government,” enquired Baisden.
“Why is this so important to you Mr. Baisden?” asked Hubbard.
“It’s my right as a taxpayer to know what is taking place within our county government,” commented Baisden.
“To our best knowledge, we are not being investigated,” said Smith.
“Let’s discuss this scenario…if one or both of you would be indicted, would you resign from office or would you keep working and be paid like former Commissioner Baisden did?” asked Baisden.
“An indictment is simply an accusation of wrongdoing, Mr. Baisden and you are considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of law,” explained Smith. “I have represented many clients throughout the years who were indicted and found not guilty.”
“Frankly – I am insulted by your question.”
The next regular meeting of the commission is set for Wednesday, November 6, at 9 a.m.