By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - Waterline projects, civil-war reenactments, school athletics requests, and ATV trail systems were among the many topics of discussion that took place during the recent meeting of the Mingo County Commission.
Commission President John Mark Hubbard and Commissioners David Baisden and Greg “Hootie” Smith were all present for the Wednesday morning scheduled meeting, and heard comments and updates from Jim Boggs, Project Administrator overseeing waterline projects in the Dingess community and those in the Ben Creek and Gilbert Creek area. The projects are being completed as scheduled, while yet another in the Marrowbone area near the Mingo/Wayne County line will bid in either May or June.
John Hall, Chief for the East Fork of 12 Pole Volunteer Fire Department, requested a copy of the paperwork from Boggs showing proof of the lines that have been installed in the Dingess community in order to hopefully assist homeowners in that location in acquiring lower insurance rates, since a viable source of water is now in place.
“Approximately 90 percent of the residents of Mingo County will have access to potable water after the Dingess and Ben Creek projects are completed,” said Boggs. The three commissioners voiced they were pleased with this update.
Two concerned mothers who have sons that play baseball for the Mingo Central High School, acting on behalf of the booster club for that sport, requested financial assistance to be used toward the purchase of sporting equipment that the team is in need of.
A $2,000 purchase order was allocated for the equipment, and President Hubbard stated that the same amount would be made available for Tug Valley High School’s baseball program as well.
“Out of every tax dollar that is collected in our county, 80 cents goes to the Board of Education, 3 cents goes to the municipalities and 17 cents is what the commission receives,” said Smith. “The majority, if not all of the funding for these teams needs to come through the board, especially since we now have only two high schools, instead of five.
“You would think their budget would allow for more funding due to this fact, but that is apparently not the case.”
“It bothers me that you have to ask the public for help with this funding,” said Hubbard. “I’m not being negative toward the BOE, I’m simply trying to grasp why this is happening.
“I want to know that the board is meeting their obligations to our youth.”
Paul Pinson attended the meeting to request $2,000 for the Tug Valley Arts Council to assist with their needs for the following year, and said they had experienced a $3,000 budget shortfall which could create financial problems. Pinson stated that the organization sponsored seven musical and theatrical performances to date for the year, and have already scheduled five for the next.
I applaud the Tug Valley Arts Council for their contribution to our county,” said Hubbard. “I attended two of the events last year and they were fantastic.
“Every penny we receive is spent on the performances,” Pinson said.
The $2,000 request was approved by the three commissioners.
Williamson City Police Department Chief Dave Rockel was next on the agenda, after his request for funding assistance at the last commission meeting had been tabled until the one that took place on Wednesday. The chief was asking for $3,500 that his department still needs to add to the amount of the insurance reimbursement they received after one of their police cruisers had been wrecked and totaled.
This funding would be utilized to purchase a previously owned cruiser to replace the one lost.
The commissioners asked the chief to give them a little more time to look at budget issues, to see what amount they may be able to provide. Rockel was asked if he had approached the city with his funding needs, and he replied yes, that he had spoke with the mayor and council.
“I’ve asked on more than one occasion and have been informed that the city does not have available funds at this time to help,” said the chief.
“We’re going to be speaking with Mayor McCormick in the near future about some projects we are wanting to join the city in accomplishing, and we we’ll also discuss this need,” said Hubbard. “Just give us a little more time Chief and we’ll try our best to provide assistance.”
Organizers with the “Skirmish on the River” Civil War reenactment that will be held in Gilbert on April 28 and 29 were present for the commission meeting, and said they didn’t want to ask for anything, but instead wanted to offer their appreciation.
“We’re not on a bumming mission – we’re on a thank-you mission,” said Ruben Mitchell, who is not only the organizer, but also participates in the performance. He was speaking of financial help the commission had supplied to begin the planning process of this endeavor.
“We’re going to be doing special performances on Friday, April 27, for the local students,” Mitchell said. “We’re especially targeting those who are middle school age who are at the age where learning the history of our state and nation is so important.
“We plan to begin at 9 a.m. with the kids, and parents are also invited to share.”
The scheduled performances for the general public are Saturday, April 28, will be 2 p.m., and the Sunday show, April 29, is scheduled at 1 p.m. The event will take place on the grounds of the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, and will include the troops setting up a replica of a civil war camp. Four original artillery pieces will be on display and will be used during the reenactment scenes. One of the artillery cannons dates back to 1837. Traditional period uniforms will be wore by those portraying soldiers and other roles, and a cannon firing will take place on Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m.
“We are really looking forward to attending this reenactment, and we congratulate all of you on making this dream come true,” said Commissioner Baisden. “I’m sure it will be a tremendous success.”
For more information on the reenactment, you are asked to contact the Gilbert City Hall at 304-664- 9625, or the Gilberts Visitors Center at 304-664-2500.
In another matter relating to the Town of Gilbert, a motion was made and approved to allow the ATV traffic with the Gilbert connector of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail System to be re-routed to use a portion of the Rt. 80 and Rt. 80/1 highway. This change became necessary because of a portion of the original trail no longer being accessible due to a new mining operation in the immediate proximity of the trail, which could create safety hazards for the riders.
“If we can’t get this proposal approved, Gilbert will be cut off from the trail system and that could prove to be financially devastating to the town,” said Hall, who also serves as a Ranger for the trail system.
“We don’t see any problems with the riders using the highways in this area,” said Smith, after consulting with commission legal counsel Glen Rutledge to clarify that the members had the legal rightto proceed with the order.
Other subjects discussed included grant updates from County Project Manager/Grant Writer Leann Ray, updates on the 911 towers undergoing improvements and relocations by Emergency Services Director Jarrod Fletcher and a funding request from the Williamson/Mingo Cal Ripken-Babe Ruth Little League for $1,500, which was approved to purchase a portable pitcher’s mound.