Commission hears updates and requests for funding

Suzette Lowe

Having not met for the past two weeks, the Jackson County Commission had a packed agenda at its May 26 meeting.

Many speakers, representing a variety of groups, approached the commission with updates on projects and requests for funding consideration.

Karl Vielhaber and Tim Bailey from the Southern Jackson Public Service District informed Commissioners Dick Waybright, Mike Randolph and Mitch Morrison that the bid for the water expansion project was $2 million over what was expected, due to the current high cost of supplies and a requirement from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“They are requiring a filtration system of the highest standards for five years,” Bailey said. “The engineers showed that this will cost a million dollars.”

Not requesting a specific amount, Vielhaber and Bailey said that any assistance would be appreciated. The service district is also seeking funding from other sources.

The impact of the project is not in doubt. Many county residents, particularly in the Fairplain area, that are under a DEP order which does not allow a hook up to the current system, will be given access.

“There’s no doubt that by the time this project is completed, it will be state of the art,” Veilhaber stated. “It will be the best in the state, perhaps the entire eastern United States.”

Cost of supplies may also impact the new terminal at the Jackson County Airport.

Ken Ross, of NGC Corporation, said that while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will provide $606,666 in grant funds, a re-bid may be considered for a scaled down building. The airport authority will contribute some funds to the project. Covid relief funds of $13,000 will also be applied.

“We hope to not ask for any of the American Recovery Act money that the county will receive,” Ross said. “But we wanted to put our possible need on your radar. The administration fees for the grant are being waived by NGC so that cost will not be a factor.”

Western Conservation District representatives Don Stephens and Judy Lyons presented the commission with an agreement that will serve as the master document for work to be done in the flood plain area.

Lyons, from the West Virginia Conservation Agency, explained that the commitment of the county to any flood work, blockage removal or natural stream resolution would be in-kind. The focus would be supplying a contractor, land rights and a dump site particularly for wood removal.

Drug use is on the rise both nationally and in Jackson County.

Members of the Broken Chains Ministries shared the goal of providing a place for those recovering from addiction.

Felicia Scott and Sarah Yoho spoke about the impact the organization has made on the community and the potential to continue offering support and services for those trying to overcome their addiction.

“We have just purchased a house on Virginia Street that will house 12 men,” Scott said. “Not long ago, there were few services to offer those in need. We’re trying to fill that void. Any financial support the county could give would go a long way in aiding our efforts.”

No action was taken on any requests, but commissioners said that each would be given consideration if funds are available.

The Sandyville broadband project is progressing with additional customers signing up for the service. Luke Peters, from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council which administers the grant, said an extension could be given for a year, allowing people to get internet service for no installation fee and $55 per month from the Route21 company.

In other business, commissioners approved:

  • Contract for Phase II HVAC renovation design services with Silling Architects not to exceed $20,000.
  •  Johnson Controls maintenance agreement for fiscal year 2021-22.
  • Financial aid agreement and rapid responder contracts for Ravenswood VFD for fiscal year 2021-22 and Silverton VFD for fiscal year 2020-2021, with each receiving $20,000 from the general fund and $6,000 from the emergency medical services budget.
  • Order creating new fund #29 for the Commission on Aging Levy and #103 for Community Development Block Grant for Southern Jackson water project.
  • Hazard mitigation lease with Michael Winter for Valley View Drive property in Sandyville.

After a closed-door executive session with WVU Extension agent John David Johnson for personnel issues, the meeting adjourned with no action taken.

The commission will meet next on Wednesday, June 2, at 9:30 a.m. at the courthouse.