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Hears multiple requests for funding in the run up to budget planning period, approves PVFC request

The topic of transparency and multiple funding requests topped the agenda of last week’s meeting of the Grant County Commission.

During the meeting, the commission was addressed by community member J.W. Hyre, who attended the meeting with community member Jill Long.

Hyre spoke to the commission about transparency focusing on other

recent speakers, including Long, who previously appeared before the commission.

In his presentation, Hyre revisited questions asked concerning the employment of attorney William Ihlenfeld by the commission as representation and his concern with the responses given by the group concerning Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Mitch Carmichael at 2019 Legislative Breakfast
Mitch Carmichael at 2019 Legislative Breakfast

Comprehensive Education reform — Senate Bill 451 — was the primary topic of conversation Thursday during the West Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Breakfast.

During the legislative panel, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, took the opportunity to speak on the Senate’s recent passage of the bill, adding “education is among the most important functions of our state government.”

Video of the WV Press Association Legislative Breakfast featured at https://www.facebook.com/wvpress/videos/346504859405630/

Carmichael took a moment to personally thank Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, for her efforts regarding the bill before explaining why he feels it is best for the state of West Virginia, namely the implementation of charter schools, asking “why could anyone say it’s a bad idea to provide an option that’s enabled in 44 other states?”

He went on to point out that charter schools would not be mandatory, but it is important to give parents and students the option: “choice is good, options are healthy.” Carmichael said West Virginia should continue to invest in public schools and teachers.

Carmichael said data shows students drop in comparison to students in other states the longer they are in the school system. (The information Carmichael referenced is attached.)

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, Speaker of the W.Va. House of Delegates, who spoke before Carmichael, said the House appreciated the Senate's effort and were reviewing the bill. Hanshaw later Thursday called for a public hearing on the SB 451 for Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said, “What we do with our children reflects upon us as a state.” Prezioso shared his experiences as a former teacher and how much the school system has changed since he began his career in 1971.

Prezioso said he felt it was the responsibility of the legislators to point out how things could be better within the system.  Prezioso said the analysis and opinions based on of data on schools systems can be questioned.

House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, applauded Carmichael for trying to improve public schools in West Virginia, but said he did not totally agree with his methods.

“I do think there needed to be a little more effort to reach out to teachers and find out what their real problems were … that they observe being on the front lines,” Miley said.

Street Lights

Last week, the Petersburg City Council looked towards warmer weather while also reviewing the results of the town’s recent cold snap.

During the Feb. 4 meeting, the council heard an update on the water leaks being handled by city maintenance due to the freezing weather. According to the report, the maintenance crew has stayed on top of the issue and are still focusing on leaks caused earlier in the winter.

The council also talked about the upcoming 2019 Spring Mountain Festival, which will be held again in the Petersburg City Park.

Another important announcement made during the meeting was the approval of 56 new streetlights that will be installed around the city.

Needle

During the January meeting, the PITAR community based drug prevention and rehabilitation program heard updates about ongoing drug prevention and recovery programs, talked about prevention in schools, new medical programs available for those in recovery and health initiatives the county is participating in.

One topic covered during the meeting was the Grant County Harm Reduction Program (needle exchange) and its role in reducing disease, such as Hepatitis A.

Sandria Glasscock of the Grant County Health Department provided the group with information about Hepatitis A, saying the illness was usually food borne but in the substance use population, it results from the non-sterile mixing of drugs.

Glasscock explained that Hepatitis A is becoming an epidemic in Charleston and Huntington due to its spread in drug communities.

IRS SCAM

As tax season begins, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, as well as state and federal agencies, are working to increase public awareness of potential scams targeting citizens.

In a report provided by the GCSD, the West Virginia Intelligence/Fusion Center (WVIFC) explained that citizens should be wary of any contact made by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

filthy water

On Feb. 7, the Grant County Public Service District (GCPSD) lifted the boil and conserve water advisory in the Maysville area.

The advisory was caused by a damaged signal that caused a pump in that area to run low. The initial notice was given on Feb. 4.

The GCPSD explained that the boil warning was a precautionary action and was not cause for panic. The GCPSD said that the water quality was continuously tested through the replacement and it never fell outside of safety guidelines.

Melda Kesner, a board member of the GCPSD, said she was proud of how quickly the crew worked to fix the issue.

“I think all of the employees were very professional and quick in handling the issue,” Kesner said. “I know the office was swamped with calls and the crew making the repairs were very conscious about getting it fixed in a timely manner. We really appreciate all of their hard work.”

In their announcement of the issue’s resolve, the department apologized for any inconvenience the advisory had caused then thanked the community for their patience.

The Grant County Commission responded to two citizens last week about ongoing questions concerning the appointment of the Grant County Clerk, attorney usage, voting in the county and commission transparency.
Commissioners Doug Swick and Jeff Berg were in attendance at the meeting, which was held on Jan. 22.
The first citizen to appear before the commission was Jane Kite Keeling, who came to express multiple concerns.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a recording of a portion of the Grant County Commission meeting that was held on Dec. 22.
I generally record most of the public meetings I attend when a member of the community is set to speak or when an explanation of financials is on the agenda.
Generally, I do not record more mundane sections of these meetings as I am able to keep up with solely handwritten notes and often do not include quotes from general county/city/board business.
However, accuracy is very important to me, especially when it is a citizen there to speak - and this is often when I want to include as many quotes as possible to allow them to convey their message in their own words.
That being said, all the recordings are generally for my own use and had I known the complexity of this meeting, I absolutely would have recorded the meeting in its entirety, as opposed to starting at the first speaker.
Given the passionate tone this meeting took and the large amount of discussion and explanations that were presented during it, I feel it is best to make the recording available to our readers so they can review it themselves.
Listening to the meeting, as opposed to reading the words off the page (or screen) gives a much more accurate view of the tone of the meeting.

Prior to the first speaker on the recording (Alicia Reel, who is reporting the county finances through the county clerk’s office) the commission approved previous minutes, heard a simple budget request re Sandia Glasscock from the Health Department and spoke with JoAnn Harman about hiring an assistant librarian.

Approximate Time Stamps:

Alicia Reel speaks on the county budget until the 2:17:00 mark.
Jane Kite Keeling addresses the commission from 2:18:00 until 8:43:00
The commission (and later the County Clerk) responds to Keeling starting at 8:43:00
Jill Long addresses the commission at 17:42
The commission responds to Long at 20:00:00
Debbie Anderson speaks to the commission concern water clean-up at 29:30:00
The recording ends as Anderson finishes

 

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