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Commission Paints Bleak
Future; Funds For Wayne
Underwood Field Slashed
by Bill Bailey

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Calhoun county commission met Monday at 9 a.m. in the Calhoun Courthouse little courtroom.

A review of the budget control report for the period ending June 30 began a discussion of three or four items that appear to be consuming anywhere from $50,000 to as much as $100,000 of the county’s budget.

Commissioner Bob Weaver said, “With any new stuff or unexpected stuff, we are looking at a $100,000 to $200,000 shortfall in the coming year.”

Another budgetary concern is the possibility of a special election to determine who will fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Robert Byrd.

If the state does not pay for the election, it will be up to the counties to do so. The cost to the county for a special election is generally between $15,000 and $20,000.

To avoid the extra cost of programming the voting machines, paper ballots were discussed. They can be counted by hand and would cost the county less.

In order to avoid the possibility of deficit spending, which is illegal for a county commission, monies which had been promised to various elected officials for expenditures, and to organizations in the county like Calhoun County Park, WVU Extension office and Wood Festival Committee, were withheld.

Commissioner Chip Westfall said, “We had budgeted $20,000, but we don’t have the money now.”

Representatives of the Wood Festival Committee, who were at the meeting asking for funding, promised to pay for mowing that has already been done, and reiterated its need for immediate funding to keep summer youth workers supplied with materials.

The committee was told that no money was available at this time, but may be available in the future.

It was decided that the summer youth workers at Underwood Field would have to be placed in other programs in the county, since there would be no money for materials. The main concern was that parents of the workers, who provide transportation, could have problems getting their children to other sites.

Fred Rader of Parkersburg Area Community Foundation said that there could be a possibility of some emergency funding coming from PACF, if it is contacted and told of the impending possibility of teenagers losing their summer employment.

Wood Festival Committee president Judy Powell and treasurer Jim Sullivan said, that due to lack of funding and citizen participation, “We’re done; in more ways than one.” They also said that there may not be a Wood Festival in 2011.

OES director Kathy Wood asked for a fifty cent per hour raise, across the board, for 911 dispatchers. She said funding would be from 911 money.

Commissioners questioned the validity of the raise in regard to the guidelines in the employee handbook.

After county clerk Richard Kirby retrieved a copy of the handbook from his office for clarification, commissioners decided that all dispatchers, except for one, had enough service time to qualify.

Commissioners said they would have the handbook committee meet to review and revise some of the “vague wording” in the employee handbook to deal with the possibility of reductions in force that may be necessary due to budget cuts.

Janet Heiney, health and wellness coordinator for Mid-Ohio Valley Health Dept., introduced a new program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control, to increase access to physical activity in the county and to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The main focus of the program will be to form a coalition of county officials and concerned citizens to look into the availability of walking paths at public parks and other forms of exercise in the county, and see how improvements can be made to benefit citizens.

Diane Ludwig gave a report for Little Kanawha Area Development Corp. on changes being made at Calhoun Industrial Park.

Local business owner, Josh Burkett, is in the process of purchasing a three-acre lot for his expanding business. Ludwig said that interest has been expressed in all the other lots as well.

Julie Sears was approved to replace Janet Gherke as a Calhoun EMS representative on the 911 advisory board. Curtis Gregory was appointed to the Calhoun County Park board.

A six-week delay for the beginning of work on the Mt. Zion Public Service District’s waterline extension project was discussed and a drawdown, contingent on the construction invoices, was considered.

No extension of the current contract, which has the project finished by July 18, 2012, was considered.

A grant for air conditioning at the courthouse was discussed. Although paperwork has been submitted to the State, there has been no response concerning the matter.

Tim Meeks of Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council discussed the Hazardous Mitigation Grant and seven properties involved for buyout because of flooding problems.

The latest appraisals came back with a lower value than some property owners were expecting. It was decided that the property owners have until July 30 to respond as to whether or not they wish to accept the current offers or get an appraisal of their own.

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