Jackson County Health Department honored by County Commission

Suzette Lowe
Jackson County Health Department employees, pictured from left to right; Jonathan Graziani, Tena Casto, Carolyn Humphreys, Wendy Staats, and Amy Haskins, were honored by President Dick Waybright and Commissioners Mitch Morrison and Mike Randoph for their exemplary work. Not pictured is Jo Wilson.

Proclamations, petitions, and progress were all part of the Jackson County Commission meeting on Oct. 28.

Commissioners Dick Waybright, Mitch Morrison, and Mike Randolph honored the Jackson County Health Department with a formal proclamation. The six employees of the department were praised for their “laborious hours and tedious work” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration urged all citizens to support and assist the department during this health crisis.

“We are so proud of our health department,” Waybright said. “We appreciate everything they have done and continue to do.”

Two requests were presented, one for approval, the other for clarification.

The Fairplain Cemetery Association shared plans to purchase land from James Kirk to consolidate two cemeteries and allow for future growth. A survey will be completed. Once this is done and all the proper signatures are obtained, the matter will be placed on a future agenda.

The county’s attorney will present an order approving the action taken, with the Commission approving if there are no objections. The 1969 bylaws of the association require that the approval of the County Commission is required when more land is to be purchased.

“Most people don’t realize that there are two cemeteries there,” said Becky Mullins from the Association. “This will make it possible to add the possibility of more than 300 more burial plots.”

Concerns for the Little Sandy Community Building were brought by Loudonna and Gary Watkins. Both had questions concerning the future of the building and the change in polling location to Fannin Chapel.

“We don’t understand how the decision to move the polling place was made,” Loudonna said. “The Community Education Outreach Service (CEOS) have raised a lot of money over the years to support the community building and we don’t know where we stand right now. If it’s not used anymore, does it go back to the original owner?”

The building has been burglarized and damaged in the last few years said Gary Watkins.

“It still means a lot to the community,” he said. “If this COVID wasn’t going on, there would be children on the playground. But there was a lot of damage done.”

It was explained that to be a polling place, a location must reach standards mandated by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. The community building no longer met those standards, thus causing the change.

As for making repairs to the building, the cost is projected to be substantial.

“We really have to be aware of how we spend the public’s money,” Morrison said.

It was agreed that the Commission would research the needs of the building and address the issue at a future meeting.

A potential project for AEP was discussed via telephone. Courtney Mustard, outreach specialist, and Frank Jenkins, project manager, explained that the electric company plans to add 20 miles of transmission lines from Ripley to Sissonville.

“Kenna will be the central point where these lines meet,” Jenkins said. “We intend to put a substation in Kenna.”

The expansion will allow for increased capacity and reliability according to Jenkins and Mustard. Fewer outages are expected to be the result as well. This will also be a pilot project for providing an alternate form of access to construction. A small part of the construction will involve a helicopter.

To accomplish this project, rights-of-way will have to be obtained and landowners contacted and given information.

“The next step is to share this information with the public,” Mustard said. “There will be press releases, packets sent out, and virtual maps available on a website.”

The projected start will be in 2021, with completion taking two years.

Grants were the focus of the monthly report by Office of Emergency Services (OES) Director Walt Smittle.

“We’re still waiting on Emergency Management Planning Grant reimbursements,” Smittle said. “Part of the problem is the state’s documentation not being complete. But we are hopeful for Homeland Security grants we submitted for license plate readers for our police and sheriff departments, and an emergency generator for the Greene Center.”

Smittle informed Commissioners that he also has volunteered to do statewide documentation of issues raised by COVID-19.

In other business, Commissioners:

• Approved additional election workers for equipment delivery and pick up

• Approved the drug testing policy for election workers which waives the requirement for standard drug testing for those working in the polling locations on election day, during early voting, election night during tabulation, and those who deliver and pick up equipment

• Approved the transfer of part-time EMT Brandy Bunch to full-time effective Nov. 1, 2020

• Heard from Randolph that each VFW and American Legion was given $5,000 from the state and that inspection of the Site 13 dam had been completed

The next meeting of the Jackson County Commission will be at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at the county courthouse.